A plane crash. Some survivors stranded on a deserted island fighting for survival. Sounds familiar? Even though the premise is largely reminiscent of the popular show Lost, Amazon Prime Video‘s new series The Wilds has more to offer than that. For starters, the survivors are all young teenage girls, each more different than the other, coming from radically different backgrounds. The only thread that binds them together is the urge to survive and get back to the real world again. Also, as you dig deeper into the series you realise that the crash wasn’t just another accident, there was more to it than what meets the eye.
The show starts with one of the girls Leah Rilke (Sarah Pidgeon of Gotham) being interviewed by two investigators after being rescued from the island, weeks after their plane crash. When she is told that she can go back to her life after the investigation, she says, “What was so fucking great about the lives we left behind?” while adding, “Being a teenage girl in normal-ass America – that was the real living hell.” This dialogue really sets the premise of the show as montages in subsequent episodes reveal the lives of each of the girls before the plane crash. We see their struggles, ups and downs and what lead them to board that fateful plane that was supposed to take them to a retreat in Hawaii. This treatment isn’t new, we have seen this format before in shows like Orange Is The New Black or This Is Us, and it works very well for a show like The Wilds too. Every flashback gives a bit more clarity to the viewer about the psyche of the protagonists and what really makes them who they are.
Apart from Leah, there are other girls on the island – the rich, seemingly superficial fashionista Fatin Jadmani (Sophia Taylor Ali of Grey’s Anatomy), the lonely Martha Blackburn (Jenna Clause) who’s looking for love, her best friend and basket ball player Toni Shalifoe (Erana James), tomboy Dot Campbell (Shannon Berry) who’s the toughie of the group, Shelby Goodkind (Mia Healey), the All-American Jesus-loving beauty pageant winner, the overtly enthusiastic chatterbox Jeanette Dao (Chi Nguyen) and the polar opposite twins Nora Reid (Helena Howard of Madeleine’s Madeleine) and Rachel Reid (Reign Edwards of The Bold and the Beautiful). The makers of the show do a great job of giving each character a distinct characteristic and personality. Even though it’s an ensemble cast, each and every character stands out boldly.
The show touches upon various important subjects ranging from teenage suicides to ragging to struggling with one’s sexuality to bulimia, with sensitivity. But the show is much more than a mere projection of adolescent angst and teenage struggles – the twists in the plot and the unexpected surprises keep you engaged and guessing till the very end. Special mention should be given to the character of Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths) who’s the mastermind behind everything and her intentions are hard to read. It’s difficult to say anything more about her character without giving away spoilers, so we won’t!
Shot in picturesque New Zealand, this YA show should also focuses on diversity without making a big deal out of it. Divided into 10 episodes of around 45-minutes each, the first season is the ultimate binge fest. By the end of the season, you know too much about the lives of each of these girls and end up caring about their fates. The season ends with a major cliffhanger, keeping you on your toes for season two.
Recommendations in collaboration with Amazon Prime Video