By Mollie Campbell
Show: The Wilds
Network: Amazon Prime Video
Cast: Helena Howard, Reign Edwards, Elena James, Sophia Ali, Rachel Griffiths, Mia Healey, Sarah Pidgeon, Shannon Berry, Jenna Clause
Contains mild spoilers
The Wilds, released in December 2020, is an Amazon Original Drama focusing on a group of teenage girls who end up stranded on a deserted island after their plane goes down. The trailer for The Wilds evokes memories of Lost, Castaway or maybe a mild Hunger Games, but as we delve into the show we discover it is much more aligned with Lost or an extreme Stanford Prison Experiment hybrid. Currently we seem to be living in a sci-fi/drama/thriller saturated entertainment industry, with only a handful of shows actually being made well, so the idea of another attempt in this genre was off-putting, but the more I watched, the more I realised it is far more layered than the trailer gives it credit for, and it is one of the most interesting shows I have watched in a while.
The first episode introduces us to nine girls, 4 pairs come from their own separate towns across the US, with varying degrees of friendship, and one girl, Jeanette is on her own. In the opening scenes, their plane crashes on a deserted island, there’s not really an initial in-depth introduction to these characters, the first time we really get pick them apart is when they realise they are stuck on a random island in an unknown location. Slowly we see that each character is very different, covering a broad scope of traits and roles within society, but there is a twist in the way they are presented to us.
Each character is portrayed with the intention as being perceived in the same way they would be if viewed upon within society, but each of these stereotypes slowly starts decaying throughout each episode, delving into much more serious issues and secrets we wouldn’t initially have expected these characters to be carrying around with them e.g. mental health issues, drug abuse, self-image, homophobia, sexual abuse etc.… this teaches the audience a very valuable lesson in not judging a book by its cover, which is reinforced throughout. This is the most important aspect of the show because it portrays just how multi-layered humans are, how much more empathy is needed within society, and reflects major issues within society that we need to have more open dialogues about, and The Wilds doesn’t shy away from facing up to the task of talking about these topics.
In terms of the plot, the story is thrilling despite its fairly slow pace, and it’s not always easy to predict (which is the opposite of other series in this genre). And just when you think you’ve pinned a genre to it, it morphs into something else, it is polished in terms of its setup, and they get the crescendo of suspense throughout each episode just right, not too steady, but not so fast-moving that it feels rushed. The show essentially turns into a horror plot, as soon as the characters realise that they may not survive. But the true horror is that, for some of them, the idea of being abandoned on a deserted island, is freeing. Their lives or images within society had become so difficult to live up to that the notion of being on a deserted island was more comforting than returning to their normal lives. As the episodes continue, they start to find more meaningful interactions with each other on the island than they managed to at home, which poses a lot of questions about society and teenagers in 2021, the idea that societal pressure, mostly ignited by social media, is putting a strain on teenagers mental health like we have never seen before. This is something the show covers very well, providing the space to discuss these issues whilst being able to relate to original and realistic characters.
The Wilds is a surprisingly necessary, impactful and emotionally-complex journey that gracefully bobs along waves as deep as the waters that surround them. It presents us with a modern portrayal of rich and layered characters, it is a paragon in the way it handles serious topics with such integrity, and it is utterly indispensable in terms of the messages and ideals it is depicting, all whilst keeping us on the edge of our seats until the final credits. I can’t wait for season 2!
Thanks for reading.