The Noughties are firmly back into fashion and while Depop and TikTok are full of Y2K inspired outfits that would make Paris Hilton proud, there’s another trend returning that we’re excited to revisit: the plane crash-island survival-mystery show.
If you, like us, also spent too much of the 00s trying to get to the bottom of what really happened to Oceanic Flight 815, you’re going to love Amazon’s new teen drama series, The Wilds.
It’s Amazon’s first ever young adult series – and combining masterly crafted teen angst with dark cliffhanger mystery, whether you are currently a teenager or have ever been one, this is about to become your new binge watch.
As showrunner Amy B. Harris summed it up when we sat down with her via Zoom, it’s “an exciting, dystopian slumber party, wrapped up in a conspiracy.” And if that alone doesn’t sound like the most intriguing show of 2020, we don’t know what would.
The survival drama follows a group of teen girls stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash – and revealing any more than that would ruin the fun. Think The Hunger Games meets Castaway – with a cargo full of twists, teen loves, and losses.
NME sat down with Amy B. Harris and one the show’s stars, Rachel Griffiths, to uncover the secrets behind why we’re all going to be finding ourselves obsessed with the island, and what the mystery is really all about…
The Wilds is going to change how Hollywood casts female characters
The cast’s ensemble teen cast are unlike what you’d usually see in an American drama, says star Rachel Griffiths. “To see these young actors, who are mostly not already known to global audiences, be so brave and raw, and authentic – I mean, these girls are not in makeup for six months for it – and I think it’s just gonna bust apart the idea of what a girl has to look like on television,” Griffiths tells NME.
“Particularly on American television, girls traditionally have been so packaged I think this is going to blow up that central casting model and it’s going to be thrilling and exhilarating,” adds Griffiths, “It’s going to make people think – if these girls are extraordinary, there must be thousands more strong young women who are able to tackle this ambitious material – so why aren’t we writing this kind of content for young women?”
The island is really a metaphor to examine teenage life through
On the themes examined in The Wilds, showrunner Amy B. Harris tells us, “I think one of the biggest ones is our desire to be loved, and what love looks like for a teenager – and for an adult, for that matter – and how challenging coming of age is.”
“It really is like a life or death experience,” explains Harris of the teenage angst the show is dripping in, “The island is a metaphor for adolescence: some people don’t survive it. At the end of the day, I think we’re hoping people will see it as resilience. These girls are fighting their way through this horrific experience with a lot of grace and humour, and we hope teenagers and adults will watch and see that it’s a celebration of resilience.”
It’s so spoiler-ific, it’s difficult to even describe the characters
“It’s a tricky one,” says Griffiths, tentatively, who plays business leader Gretchen Klein. ”She’s a professor of sociology, who has become tired of how slow the world is moving in terms of embracing female leadership, and so she is working with young women to empower the next generation of female leaders to make girls own their power.”
“But she’s also been frustrated and limited within the system that she’s working with, so she may or may not be doing things by the book,” teases Griffiths. #Girlboss she is not.
If you like My So Called Life and Lost, you’ll love this
“My So Called Life was a big inspiration for us,” explains Harris, “Those character-driven, relatable and authentic teenage girl experiences. What we really wanted to do was create a show that didn’t just do that for one suburban, white girl but we with a lot of different perspectives, both in terms of ethnic diversity and socio economically. Exploring that was a very exciting piece of the puzzle for us.”
“And then Lost, Lord of the Flies, Castaway – Marcus is our Wilson,” says Harris, of the inspirations on this series, “ we wanted to secretly tell a character-driven show about what it’s like to be a teenager, with the exciting swizzle of conspiracy, which allowed us to give you those bingeable ‘what-happens-next?!’ moments, while really caring about what happens to the characters.”
You’ll come for the twists – but stay for the cast
“Hopefully the twists and turns in the show will grab people – and there are some big surprises there to keep watching for that I think are wonderful, and will change where you think the show’s going,” says Harris, “but those women are spectacular and getting to write for them was thrilling because you didn’t have to worry about writing to their strengths, because they were just strength after strength.”
The Wilds is co-produced by Amazon Studios and ABC Signature Studios, and launches on Amazon Prime Video on 11 December 2020.