The Wilds television show, created by Sarah Streicher, is a new series on Prime Video. (Photo Courtesy of Gretchen Stern)
The Wilds, released in December of last year, is a thrilling story about eight teenage girls who find themselves stranded on a remote island after a plane crash with no idea that they are subjects of an intense social experiment.
As the first episode introduces each girl, viewers can see how they all have vastly different backgrounds and very different personalities. They immediately have to face the reality of their situation when one girl, Jeanette (Chi Nguyen), dies shortly after making it to the island. The girls fight to survive against not only nature but their past traumas that haunt them. They clash many times but also come to realize, whether they admit it or not, that they need each other.
From the very beginning, it is clear that this is more than just an unfortunate incident, but something deeper and more sinister.
The story begins with Leah (Sarah Pidgeon) telling her story to federal agents, so people know from the beginning they eventually make it out somehow. As she and others recount their stories throughout the episodes, you learn more and more about what is really going on — Gretchen Klien (Rachel Griffiths), head of this secret operation, has put them on the island to see if women are better off living in a world with no patriarchal oppression and modern distractions.
Gretchen also constantly watches the girls and manipulates their environment to see how they deal with difficult situations. Viewers learn that Jeanette was actually an agent for Gretchen’s team, and that one other girl on the island knows what is really going on.
As a teenage drama, it follows many recognizable plotlines as the characters deal with issues seen in many other books, shows, and movies.
However, The Wilds really is better than one might expect. Learning more and more intriguing details about each girl’s past life as the show progresses, viewers can not help but feel captivated by the thickening character development. Here is a little bit about a few of the “unsinkable eight:”
First, there is Leah Rilke, a 17-year-old girl dealing with extreme heartbreak after falling in love with an author much older than she who suddenly cuts contact after someone sent him her birth certificate, proving she lied about her age.
As Shelby Goodkind (Mia Healey) says in the first episode, “I do real. I do family, I do Jesus, I do pageants.” She has a seemingly perfect life until you find out she is hiding insecurity and secrets behind her smile. The insecurity? Her fake teeth. The secret? She likes girls, and in a family morally opposed to homosexuality, she does everything she can to fight it. Her desperation to keep herself out of trouble even contributes to her best friend’s suicide, deeply traumatizing her.
Fatin Jadmani (Sophia Taylor Ali) is, in simple terms, a diva. While she seems unwilling to do any work on the island, we learn that an effort to be the best dominates her real life. She is an extremely talented cellist in a rich family, but after learning about and exposing her father’s multiple affairs, her life turns upside down.
The diversity of the characters’ backgrounds interests people and makes them feel connected to each girl and her struggles. Before getting involved with Gretchen’s experiment, all the girls dealt with real-life issues — issues that may be familiar to some viewers. The expectations and pressure of families and society make their lives much harder than they should be — another concept many people may be familiar with.
Another big factor to the show’s success is how, instead of watching from the moment the girls crash straight through until they get off the island and “federal agents” — really members of Gretchen’s operation — interview them, you see flashbacks and interviews from many people’s perspectives as you gradually uncover answers to the mystery along with even more questions. This creates a story much more engaging for the audience, their attention captured as they try to follow along and put the pieces together.
There are already numerous theories and rumors surrounding all the characters and what the next season will look like — yes, in fact, there will be a next season.
Creator Sarah Streicher confirmed this shortly after season 1 released, but there is no telling yet exactly when fans will get to watch more of the story. With season 1 ending with such a cliffhanger, Leah discovering another subject group called “The Twilight of Adam,” there are sure to be many more twists and turns.