*This article contains spoilers*
Amazon Studios’ survival drama, The Wilds, follows the lives of nine teenage girls. These girls are stranded on a deserted island shortly after their private plane crashes into the ocean whilst en route to Dawn of Eve, an all-female wellness retreat in Hawaii. This series features 10 one-hour long episodes, where each episode delves into a different girl’s backstory as they narrate their personal trauma that led them to travel to the Dawn of Eve.
Featuring a diverse cast of mostly newcomers that includes Indigenous and queer characters we have: heartbroken Leah (Sarah Pidgeon), competitive diver Rachel (Reign Edwards) and her twin sister a quiet intellectual Nora (Helena Howard), survival expert Dot (Shannon Berry), an impulsive runaway Toni (Erana James) and her best friend, a caring optimist Martha (Jenna Clause), wild child cellist Fatin (Sophia Ali), beauty pageant queen Shelby (Mia Healey), and overly enthusiastic Jeanette (Chi Nguyen).
The series is told by alternating through three timelines. Before the island, during the island and after the island, where the girls are being interviewed one by one. It soon becomes clear to the viewers that the plane crash was in fact not an accident. Instead, the girls, unbeknownst to them, are subjects of a social experiment. An experiment led by scientist Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths). Who is able to watch and monitor the girls via the many hidden cameras on the island and by placing two moles amongst the group to gather more intel.
Behind the scenes
It’s common for most female-driven TV series and films to be created, directed, and written by men. However, The Wilds with its female-led cast created and executive produced by Sarah Streicher, boasts female directors, writers, executive producers, and stunt coordinators. With women in high levels of creative control behind the scenes, one thing is obvious. This is a series made for women by women. Thereby offering a refreshing and in-depth take on the female teenage experience not told through the male gaze.
Primarily shot in Auckland, New Zealand the series showcases breath-taking views of mountains and sunsets.
A trauma checklist?
Each passing day on the island tests the girls’ mental and physical strengths as they overcome their personal demons. Despite only having one trigger warning in episode eight, the series deals with many events in each episode that show severe psychological and physical trauma. Ranging from statutory rape, bulimia, and child molestation to name a few. This is certainly not an easy watch and should come with more trigger warnings.
The balance to tell these stories and avoid seeming like they’re simply checking off a trauma list is a very fine line. However, the series delivers a carefully thought out and well-structured viewing experience. With the timelines merging appropriately so each girl grows out of the stereotype they’re initially presented to us with.
There was trauma. But being a teenage girl. That was the real living hell.Leah
Leah sums this up in the first episode in her monologue. The trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl is in fact the most painful aspect of it all.
Absence of patriarchy
As the series plays out, Gretchen’s motives become clearer; that women would make better leaders than men. Furthermore, the effects of toxic masculinity, a by-product of the patriarchy, has only caused disturbing damage that she has personally been affected by. Motivating her to create the Dawn of Eve experiment to prove her hypothesis. To provide her with a solution that she hopes to implement into the current world: a matriarchy.
Patriarchy is our system of society in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from. Toxic masculinity is the cultural pressure for men to behave in a certain way that exudes aggression, violence, and status. Gretchen’s disapproval of the patriarchy is fuelled by the chaos seen so far in regard to war and destruction, as well as her personal experience of what it did to her son or rather what it made him do.
At surface level, The Wilds appears to be Lost meets a gender-swapped Lord of the Flies but it is much more than that. It offers a compelling and thought-provoking watch with a promising future. Each episode features shocking revelations and provides many twists at a strong pace that makes the series bingeable and leaves us wanting more. With series one ending on a cliff-hanger for both the present and future timelines, series two has been confirmed and is now in production.
So, how do young women grow in a world without being confined in a patriarchy? Watch to find out.