By Lily Webber
When Amazon’s first young adult show hit the streaming platform in late December, it was quickly consumed and favourably reviewed. Having watched the first episode, it became apparent to me why this show is extremely bingeable and perfect for lockdown.
The Wilds depicts nine teenage girls stranded on an island, each episode slowly unwinding the mystery of how they came to be there. Although this premise has been done to death, and the dialogue occasionally cringey and forced (‘being a teenage girl, that was the real hell’ sounds straight out of a mediocre YA novel), the show is incredibly entertaining and easy to get lost in. There’s no character among the 9 main girls who you don’t care about, especially since these are great performances from a mostly unknown cast. Although there’s some lazy stereotyping, (the Texan beauty queen, the rich thin girl, and the whiny white protagonist) the characters are ultimately well formed and compelling.
The relationships between characters are well-paced and organically grown, which is a testament to the amazing writing of creator Sarah Streicher (of Daredevil fame). The show features three timelines – before the island, during the island, and after the island – which keeps the mystery all the more exciting. The show also features a strange mixture of genres (survival thriller and high-school drama all in one), but it somehow works really well. The Wilds never seems to lose itself or compromise its own integrity despite the outrageous premise and plot. What’s more, the show boasts a surprisingly well-chosen and comprehensive soundtrack, mixing indie classics like Elliot Smith, Radiohead and Nirvana with tunes from icons like Nicki Minaj, P!nk and Missy Elliott.
Amongst the nine girls, there are perhaps an improbably high number of tragic backgrounds – it’s almost incredulous that so much awful stuff can happen to one group of people. However, each character accurately demonstrates the essence of being a teenage girl struggling in society today. There’s discussion of several interesting and important topics which confront teenagers today, including but not limited to sexual identity, suicide, caring for sick parents, and bulimia.
‘The Wilds’ adeptly uses the desert island trope to give these girls (and the viewer) room to analyse their own lives with thoughtful introspection. A large component of the show is the simultaneous fear between an inability to resume a normal life, or a return to a reality exactly the same as it was. I think this is the same for those of us binge-watching the show from our bedrooms in lockdown. While most of us are desperate to ‘return to normal’, I think the same distance that the island affords The Wilds also helps us to question the legitimacies and failings of our society during the pandemic.
Since the first lockdown, there have been conversations about the prevalence of systemic racism, the defunding of the NHS, and the treatment of those below the breadline by the current government. We’re all clearly thinking about the changes we want for the society that we hope to return to at the end of this pandemic. The Wilds is not just an extremely fun, easy watch: it’s a reflection of our lives right now in a way we all need.
Image Credits: Rosehn via Wikimedia Commons