‘The Wilds’ review: Gripping from the get-go

The Wilds is what happens if the British boys from William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies are replaced by American teenage girls. Golding wrote The Lord of the Flies as a counter to RM Ballantyne's 1857 novel, The Coral Island. All who had read Enid Blyton’s many adventure stories of children managing exceedingly well on deserted islands were in for a huge shock at how quickly things got ugly on the deserted island in Golding’s 1954 novel.

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With Golding’s novel and the excellent television show, Lost, at the back of the mind, the sight of teenagers setting off on a chartered flight for Hawaii for a woman-empowerment program called Dawn of Eve, set off various alarms. The flight turbulence and the young women finding themselves on a remote, deserted island followed on cue.

As the girls set to find out more about each other and grapple with their situation, we learn that their situation is not calamitous bad luck but has been engineered. The show is gripping from the get-go as we are immediately drawn into the stories of the diverse group, played by an excellent ensemble cast.

The girls are from different social backgrounds and bring with them their particular problems. We first meet Leah (Sarah Pidgeon), who seems a YA prototype — a voracious reader, a loner and an aspiring writer. Coming out of a disastrous relationship with a much older man, Leah’s parents think the Dawn of Eve would be the right thing to help Leah heal. Leah’s conviction that nothing is as it seems, might look like paranoia to the other girls, but could there be something in it?

There is Fatin (Sophia Ali), the typical good-time girl, whose $1,000 airtight suitcase initially provides the group with dry things. We learn that apart from partying hard, in her other life, Fatin was a brilliant cellist, who realises to her dismay that in the real world, there are different rules for her father and herself.

Tough Texan, Dot (Shannon Berry) has watched every survival show on telly and seems to be the right person to lead the group to the light. There is however a darkness in Dot as she had to take a call on a loved one that no one should have to take.

The Wilds
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 10
  • Run time: 42–61 minutes
  • Creator: Sarah Streicher
  • Starring: Sophia Ali, Shannon Berry, Jenna Clause, Reign Edwards, Mia Healey, Helena Howard, Erana James, Sarah Pidgeon, David Sullivan, Troy Winbush, Rachel Griffiths
  • Storyline: A plane crash strands a group of teenage girls on a deserted island leading them to discover things about themselves

Sweet Martha (Jenna Clause), a Native American who believes the best in everybody, hides a terrible secret of her own. An animal lover, she would prefer it if the group forages and fishes rather than hunt. Her queer best friend Toni (Erana James) has lived a tough life and is suspicious of Bible-thumping beauty queen Shelby’s (Mia Healey) eternal optimism and helpfulness. Shelby with her blonde hair, flawless skin and perfect figure seems to be the epitome of wholesome American beauty, but naturally there are dark spots and imperfections in the flawlessness of the closeted pageant princess.

Fraternal twins Rachel (Reign Edwards) and Nora (Helena Howard) are a study in opposites. Rachel is the high-achieving diver with an eating disorder, while the quieter Nora is the studious one, always with her nose in a book. A collector of odd facts, Nora has put her life on hold to be with Rachel on her many dive meets and to bail her out of the different messes she gets herself into. However, does Rachel need constant monitoring or is Nora using Rachel as an excuse to avoid striking out on her own?

We learn of the girls’ pre-island life through the interrogation by FBI trauma specialist Daniel (David Sullivan) and Agent Dean (Troy Winbush), after the girls are rescued from the island. Early on, we get to know the Dawn of Eve is an elaborate social experiment run by Gretchen (Rachel Griffiths) to see how a group of young women react to extreme circumstances. Gretchen, we learn has trauma of her own.

Season 1 ended answering some, not all questions and throwing up several more. The obligatory cliff-hanger ending ensured we would like to spend more time with these girls in this part-survival drama, part-YA thriller and wholly enjoyable show.

The Wilds is presently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 4:28:21 AM |

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