Don’t sleep on Showtime’s survival thriller, Yellowjackets. If you haven’t started the weekly episodic yet (now in its second season), the good news is that it’s all available for you to devour. Yellowjackets delivers a variety of genres, perfect casting and storytelling that will breed theory after theory as your brain feasts on each installment. It’s both a thrilling ’90s-set teen horror story and a twisty present-day mystery that offers fascinating character studies of women navigating the traumas of their then and now.
Here’s what you need to know (note: there are some basic plot spoilers ahead): a high school girls’ soccer team survives a plane crash on their way to nationals, and the teen players find themselves stranded in the Ontario wilderness (we know how cold it gets here). Tensions among the crash survivors grow as quickly as hunger, and some of them die — but others scavenge and fight to survive out there for 19 months. The mystery starts to unfold and audiences desperately hang on to each reveal as the present-day Yellowjackets get blackmailed and are forced to face their horrifying pasts (that may or may not involve cannibalism).
As one of the best television series to hit screens in recent years, Yellowjackets is wildly entertaining and unlike anything else on TV right now. Watching relatively normal teens descend into ritualistic cannibalism has never been so fun to watch — and somehow it all makes sense as the stories unfold before us. What did they do out there? What are they up to now? Validating your desire to check out the A++ pilot, here are 10 reasons Yellowjackets is absolutely worth watching.
Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis are just some of the incredible cast
Melanie Lynskey’s (adult) Shauna can only get hard for her husband after murdering rodents in the yard, and she masturbates to photos of her teen daughter’s boyfriend in her bedroom between loads of laundry. Christina Ricci, in one of the strongest performances in her recent career, lights up the screen portraying unhinged sociopathic (adult) Misty Quigley — and her buddy-cop chemistry with Juliette Lewis’ (adult) Nat brings intrigue and adventure to the small screen. Lewis, of course, captures her character’s de-evolution perfectly while still inspiring viewers to root for her. Tawny Cypress brings a chill to the screen with her (adult) Taissa — who is a powerful politician by day with a mystery unfolding around her at night.
The young talent who play the teen versions of these survivors were also cast exactly right. Though these performers don’t share a nostalgia for the ’90s, they certainly channel the vibe of the decade and convince us it’s 1996 — oh, and vaginas, like, have monologs now. The rising stars include Ella Purnell, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Nélisse, Samantha Hanratty, Sophie Thatcher and Courtney Eaton.
It’s a survival show that finally addresses what happens when you get your period in the wild
While Yellowjackets isn’t the first survival show (we’re looking at you, The Last of Us), it’s the only that actually addresses what can happen if you get your period out in the wilderness. Though shows like The 100, The Wilds and Lost explored survival themes and include female characters in their plotlines, none touched on what happens when the female survivors sync up cycles — and what they have to do if they run out of disposable, first-world feminine hygiene.
Female friendships get complicated — and Yellowjackets explores it
Craving some quality teen angst with complicated relationships? Yellowjackets brings us juicy drama, palpable tension and solid dialogue as it navigates the push and pull and nuances of young female friendships. The Shauna (Lynskey) and Jackie (Purnell) dynamic is such a relatable toxic friendship model that’ll inevitably trigger thoughts and feelings within the viewer, leaving them to wonder if they have been either of the flawed characters.
Never forget, social currency is not the same in the wilderness as it is in high school. Like most survival shows, watching a social shakeup and the new world order falling into place makes for good television. Buckle up as these hormonal, unhinged teens adapt to their new lives in the Ontario wild — cue hunting, seances, DIY surgeries and more. In a survival setting, the skills and ways of thinking that are overlooked in a New Jersey high school environment become essential to live, and popularity and influence come to mean nothing. Oh, the way teen girls can freeze each other out.
It will breadcrumb your curiosity and spark theory after theory in your brain
The show’s early synopsis spoke to a varsity soccer team turning into two warring cannibalistic clans — the series opens with a brunette running through the snow before falling to her death in a spiked pit. A teen in pink Converse shoes looks down from the opening. Every few scenes, viewers will find themselves searching the screen for meaning — the foreshadowing is so clear and satisfying. But with every answer Yellowjackets gives you, six more questions are born. Who else survived those 19 months? Who eats who first?
The Yellowjackets soundtrack is banger after banger
When was the last time a show offered ’90s hit after hit across multiple genres of music? From ’90s hip hop to grunge tracks to pop hits, the Yellowjackets team did not cut corners when it came to optimal song selects. The music team did the work, after all, the show creator reached out to Enya so they could get “Only Time” in the finale. Other notable artists heard on the show include Alanis Morissette, Salt-N-Pepa, Hole, PJ Harvey, Portishead, Andrew Lloyd Webber (lol), The Prodigy and so many more.
They tease at cannibalism
But don’t worry, the vegans and vegetarian cast members were provided with Beyond Meat, magnetic props and alternatives.
It’s creepy AF, but the horror won’t break you
Don’t like gore or typical horror? The Yellowjackets official Twitter offers gore timestamps to shield your eyes if you’re squeamish like me and enjoy, y’know, sleeping.
But real talk: the show doesn’t rely on jump scares to get its kicks — it’s psychologically chilling and randomly hilarious. Without spoiling you, I will promise the dynamic of Lewis and Ricci will deliver comedy gold. Lynskey also hogs much of the funny, and it’s a delight to watch.
You may also like: 10 best rom coms to make your partner watch with you.
Experts agree the portrayals of trauma are on point
At the heart of the show, Yellowjackets is about trauma, survival and the bonds and experiences it can breed. The series attracts mental health experts and psychiatrists as viewers — and even they agree that the portrayals of PTSD are especially well done. Each character experiences their trauma differently: Nat flails while Shauna simmers with rage beneath the surface. Collective trauma unites and you can’t help but watch.
The excellent storytelling will leave you crying for more
This dramedy can get as horrifying as it is funny. The diverse representation is done well (yay to queer women of colour representation done right), and the great storytelling will inevitably hook the curious viewer sniffing out the compelling. The pacing always feels good — never moving too quickly while also never dragging on. Every scene serves a purpose and the meticulous viewer will catch on to the foreshadowing, clever devices used and deliberate dialogue. This being said, get ready for some plot twists. And get ready to want more.
The Yellowjackets online community is clever, hilarious and will keep you company until season two
If you’re like me, aching to talk about the unhinged amazing chaos of Yellowjackets, you’ll be glad to know that the fan communities across the web grow with each passing day. The tags are active, the theories are wild and the fanbase is devoted. Get excited.