IIt is lost to teenagers. It’s Lord of the Flies with girls. It’s the Breakfast Club with an apocalyptic touch. It’s Mean Girls meets Pretty Little Liars and The Society meets all those post-Twilight, sub-Buffy, Gen Z vampire shows you never got the names of, but without, until now, vampires. It is the first YA offering from Amazon Prime that is not based on an existing IP, it is a 10 part series called The Wilds and resistance is useless.
Although, to be fair, you may not feel that way right away. When we first meet the group of disgruntled 17-year-olds as they board a chartered plane heading to a women-only retreat in Hawaii (called, to foreshadow the fans, The Dawn of Eve) well, my gosh – don’t they seem like the most charmless group of mardy babies you could hope to meet? Chief among them is book-goer Leah (Sarah Pidgeon), who just broke up with her boyfriend and says things to her parents like, “Please don’t refer to my emotional devastation as ‘a funk.’ Then there’s Rachel (Reign Edwards), aggressively sulking about something and dragging her sister Nora (Helena Howard) down with her, the bellicose Dot (Shannon Berry), the permanently-furious-and-any-other-kind-of-kind. -Warrior Toni (Erana James) and her shy friend Martha (Jenna Clause), and hot and snooty girl Fatin (Sophia Ali). Lightening the mood of the show, if not the passengers on the plane to Hawaii, are the pathologically vivacious Texan Shelby (Mia Healey) and the talkative Jeanette (Chi Nguyen).
The airplane scenes, however, are a flashback. In the present, an investigator and a psychologist interrogate Leah, and in subsequent episodes, each surviving girl in turn, how they survived. You see, the plane suddenly crashed and the girls went to an island together with no memory of how they got there, but an inexplicable, practical knowledge of how to perform CPR when a semi-drowned partner requires it. From there, the narrative grappling hooks start to sink in and even though the plot occasionally wobbles for the next nine hours, it never really stops.
The intertwined stories of the girls on the island unfold as they explain their lives before, during and after to researchers. The theme of The Wilds is pointed out almost painfully in an obvious way (even considering the fact that it is aimed at a younger demographic) at first. “There was trauma,” Leah agrees at first when asked by the therapist about the life that awaits rescue on the island. “But being a teenager in normalized America? That was the real hell. “But once that point is voiced out loud, the story itself continues, rapidly deepening and broadening to provide insight into today’s young female life experience as It becomes panoramic, detailed, silly and moving at the same time.
Leah’s boyfriend turns out to be an older man, who thought she was 18 when he took her virginity, and then left when he found out she wasn’t. Dot was her high school’s oxygen dealer: she sold her terminally ill father’s basic medications to buy the best things he needed and could not otherwise afford, and she cared for him up to and including the very moment he died. . Rachel’s backstory unfolds in the second episode and we see how bitter disappointment and identity crisis are influencing her life on the island and her treatment of Nora. Relationships between all survivors evolve organically and credibly as they struggle not only with their situation, even as they increasingly lean towards their freedoms, but also with their sexualities, insecurities, jealousy, and the various legacies of their experiences in The real world. Although the writer does not quite capture the power and enthusiasm of authentic adolescent speech, especially feminine, at least he does not have it communicating in overwritten zingers. A near flawless range of performances sells it well and generally you buy it.
Behind the scenes, a mystery awaits. The organizer of the retreat is a woman named Gretchen (Rachel Griffiths), who intently watches the girls on a wall of monitors as they go about their business. She talks about secret operations between them and it seems that the girls could be the unfortunate victims of an obscene social science experiment. Or something else and something worse. We don’t know yet, but I bet you’ll stick around until the end to find out. If nothing else, like with Leah, it will get you out of whatever slump you find yourself in.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.