Express News Service
There’s a moment towards the end of the first episode of The Wilds that sold me on the show. A group of teenage girls start singing a Pink song as they bury a peer on a deserted island that they’ve all washed up on after a plane crash — it was… unexpected.
That is the very word to describe this Amazon Original series created by Sarah Streicher: unexpected. While it can be broadly described as a teen drama meets survival thriller, The Wilds surprises us often through the course of its 10-episode first season.
Comparisons to Lost are inevitable and even justified. Here too there are indications that the crash and this group’s stranding is not an accident.
And the narrative of The Wilds follows the same pattern of giving us a look at the survivor’s lives before the crash — generally focusing on one individual per episode — and what’s happening on the island in parallel.
There is a difference though. The why behind what’s happening to girls is not kept as mysterious. We get to see the orchestrations of the ones who have put them in this situation right from the first episode. Not all at once.
This too is revealed slowly, in spurts. We also see some of the girls being individually interviewed by an investigator duo after their rescue.
So there are a couple more layers here. And full credit to the filmmaking, particularly the editing, for keeping things coherent between all these varied threads in each episode.
The cast is quite diverse and the diversity doesn’t feel like tokenism since there’s a narrative reason for it in this small group of fewer than 10 girls.
Their issues range the spectrum as well — showcasing what teenage girls in America go through is one of the show’s avowed intentions (“Being a teenage girl in normal- ass America, that was the real living hell,” says Leah, the protagonist of sorts).
Eating disorder, heartbreak, parental pressure, abuse — these are all dealt with. But rather than coming off as trauma porn, they help flesh out the characters.
And again, there’s a reasonable explanation storywise for everyone in such a small group having some issue or the other.
The casting is near perfect and the actors playing the girls are a joy to watch, with the performances of Sophia Ali and Helena Howard as Fatin and Nora, respectively, deserving particular praise. If there is one underwhelming aspect, it’s the portions of the people behind the scenes.
Their motivations and machinations dip into the fantastical a tad too much (Rachel Griffiths who plays their head calls herself “Napoleon with a c*nt” at one point). However, they also provide a lot of the twists in the tale. Suspension of disbelief takes a little bit of effort in these parts but is essential to enjoying the show, which leans heavily on this part of the story towards the end.
The Wilds is clearly targeted at the young adult segment of the audience but provides enough to amuse older audiences too.
It’s very much a bingeable show too, what with all the suspense and the twists. Season 1 leaves a lot of questions and story threads unresolved and ends on quite a cliffhanger. Season 2 has already been commissioned and will hopefully be out before too long to resolve much of this.
The story has been set up nicely and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.
Home theatreA fortnightly column that focuses on notable content available on the streaming platforms around you