By Sadie Dodds
The Wilds, released on Amazon Prime on December 11, 2020, has been a breath of fresh air in a medium usually dominated by stories of men and their struggles. This show tells the story of a group of teen girls as they uncover secrets about themselves, each other, and the island on which they find themselves stranded. This feminist breakdown of the Lord of the Flies is brilliant in many ways. From its characterization to its set design, this show immerses you in its characters and its world.
One of The Wilds’ main draws is its ability to acquaint the audience with its characters. Constant flashbacks to each of the girls’ lives before the island gives a view into their minds, allowing viewers to understand why each character reacts in a certain way. A shifting focus that changes the narrator each episode also delves deep into each character. With this tool, the show lets each girl shine on her own and gives the audience the time they need to understand her fully. These well-thought-out bits of the structure are pivotal to the show’s success and work to make it even more enjoyable.
More than just the show’s structure, The Wilds deserves vast amounts of credit for its representation and inclusivity. Five of the eight main girls are people of color. Two of these girls are indigenous, and two are black/biracial. Two are amongst the LGBTQ+ community (although they aren’t given labels in the show), and at least one of the girls deals with mental illness. And none of these attributes are token. Each bit of diversity is essential and not just mentioned and then ignored by the show. It does not feel like forced and unwanted inclusion. It feels like a realistic depiction of a random group of American teenagers. By treating these characters as actual people with real and diverse issues, The Wilds brings light to groups that most people never see in the media. That is a beautiful thing.
All this is not to say that this show doesn’t have its faults. The nefarious organization plot was pretty distracting, especially at first. Just as the viewer is beginning to connect with the characters, the show rips them away, reminding them that this is just a show and should not be taken seriously. On top of this, the tension gets spoiled right off the bat because of the flash-forwards. We already know who survived and, if you’re paying attention, betrayed them all.
Many critics have voiced concerns over whether this show is too unoriginal. We have seen many “trapped on a deserted island” stories, and the “ragtag bunch learns life lessons while stuck together” trope is certainly not unknown. Yes, The Wilds may not have a brand new plot, but its inclusivity and ability to create unforgettable characters have revitalized the classic tale.
Amazon has confirmed that The Wilds will be getting a season two. However, a date for release has not been set yet, so fans have something to look forward to and lots of time to speculate about what could come next.