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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Daybreak is a series about high schoolers struggling to survive among the murderous gangs and rampaging zombies left over after a nuclear explosion. Violence is nonstop and bloody, even if the tone is light. Expect lopped-off body parts that fly into the camera, sudden deaths, bloody zombie bites, and other over-the-top visuals, including a 10-year-old girl who dispatches zombies with a flamethrower. We also see the immediate aftermath of a nuclear bomb, scary mutated animals, and teenagers trying to kill each other in various colorful ways. Sexual content is less frequent, but a romance anchors the action, so expect lots of talk about "true love" and romantic complications. Language is mature -- along with the usual curse words ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole"), language can have a sexual edge ("t-ts," "boobs," "hard-on," "pr--k," etc). Angelica, age 10, is particularly apt to use profane insults, calling others things like "s--t dips." A teen boy declines to call a girl a "bitch," saying he's "part of the solution." At other moments, gender stereotypes predominate, like when it's implied that the school golf team isn't really tough because "golfers have tiny balls." Teens also drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. Communication and teamwork are visible in characters' actions, but violence from heroes and villains alike muddles the messages.
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What's the story?
Based on the graphic novel series of the same name by Brian Ralph, DAYBREAK takes place in Glendale, California, a few months after a nuclear bomb has turned everyone over 18 into either "goo" or ravenous zombies known as "Ghoulies." But an army of teens remain, and what were once the cliques of Glendale High have solidified into murderous street gangs, intent on wiping out rival survivors. Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford) survives by keeping to himself, until one day when he runs afoul of Glendale's former golf team and gains two companions: his former bully Wesley (Austin Crute) and go-for-broke tween terror Angelica (Alyvia Alyn Lind). Can this team of three make it through Glendale's wasteland, avoid the gangs, and find Josh's missing main squeeze, Sam (Sophie Simnett)?
Is it any good?
Like a post-apocalyptic Ferris Bueller's Day Off, this energetic series is overflowing with verve, charm, and quotable lines, but it's too bloody for preteens. Colin Ford makes a likable every-guy hero, greeting menace with quips and a broad smile, skating (literally) on the borders between the now-armed cliques of Glendale. Really, the zombies and gang conflicts are just a backdrop for the kinds of hijinks viewers will recognize from other high school-set movies: obstacle-beset romance, pranks, chase scenes, and big showdowns -- though these showdowns are likelier to end with hacked-off limbs and dead bodies.
The tone is light enough that the mayhem isn't a big bummer, and Josh's heroes' journey is easy to follow and relate to, particularly with his two sworn companions Wesley and Angelica in tow. Intent on moral redemption after a regretful high school bully stage, Wesley is positively huggable, while tough-as-nails Angelica feels like a riff on Kick-Ass's Hit Girl but is fun to watch anyway: How many 10-year-olds get to wield a flamethrower and spit four-letter words? And how many action shows make room for a tween girl, anyway? If Daybreak is humanity's last stand, we could have a worse epitaph.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the level of violence in Daybreak. Is it more or less violent than you expected? More or less violent than other shows or movies set after an apocalyptic event? How can you tell the difference between the "good" and "bad" characters on this show? Is the violence in this show enjoyable? What impact does media violence have on kids?
Families can also talk about the character of Angelica. Was the idea of a skilled, confident 10-year-old girl hero cool, or disturbing? Or both? Why? Is she a role model, or a cautionary tale? What responsibility do the movie studio and the filmmakers have to the young actress involved in a mature show like this?
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