I cannot stress this enough: Go watch Yellowjackets. Immediately.
Look, I’m guilty of waiting for season two to tune into a TV series. I say “guilty,” because I don’t necessarily think it’s a great habit. Delaying until the full-season reviews are in, until my friends and Twitter follows have consistently sung a series’ praises is a bit of a calculated, A/B tested approach to consuming entertainment. But I don’t seem to be alone in doing it—lots of shows like Succession, What We Do in the Shadows, and The Other Two now truly take off when they’re circling around for their sophomore run. Whenever a show isn’t a practical clown car of celebrity names (Nine Perfect Strangers), an adaptation of a celebrated work (The Underground Railroad), or an instant critically-acclaimed hit (The White Lotus), I’m tempted to wait and see if it gathers buzz in the off season before giving it an hour of my time.
But with Yellowjackets, which premiered on Showtime this week, I’m diving right in. The show’s two-timeline premise is irresistible: In 1996, a high school girls’ soccer team from New Jersey is en route to nationals when their plane, driven off course by a storm, goes down in the wilderness. For the 19 months until their rescue, those who lived through the crash “starved, and scavenged and prayed,” as one present-day survivor tells a reporter in the premiere. But judging by the gory flashbacks, that’s not all they did—the episode also suggests that the kids hunted, killed and cooked up at least one of their pals BBQ-style in a cannibalistic ritual that’s heavy on QAnon Shaman drag. In 2021, those who made it out of the woods reunite to ensure that their secret (which, again, seems highly likely to involve people-eating) doesn’t get out. The cast of grown-ups is stellar, and includes ‘90s idols Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, and Juliette Lewis, and boasts a pilot directed by Jennifer’s Body helmer Karyn Kusama, who definitely knows a thing or two about bloodthirsty teens.
Is it a lot like Alive? Very much so, yes. Lord of the Flies? Naturally. Judging by the preview for the rest of the season, which appears to be pretty heavy on some sort of “mysterious symbols” plotline, we’re also almost certainly in for some Lost-style weirdness in the wilds, too. But Yellowjackets appears to be more than just Now & Then with a taste for human flesh—it confidently flaunts its influences because it builds a bloody, grim world of teen girl brutality that’s very much its own.
Yes, the fact that the show’s currently sitting pretty at 100% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes made it easier to take the leap. But who can say where the season goes? Will this be one I’m hyping to friends for months, then sitting back in smug, resentment-tinged satisfaction as the buzz builds? Or will the show fumble its final episodes, leaving me indifferent to whether it even gets renewed? For now, I’m along for the ride, onboard the train just as it leaves the station and ready to head into the unknown.