- Brian Donaldson
- 11 December 2020
Secrets and lies drive a well-acted but baggy tale of young women marooned on a deserted island
The comparisons to Lord Of The Flies and Lost are inevitable, but teen survival drama The Wilds deserves to stand on its own two feet. That's something which most of the characters are barely able to do by the end of this series' ten episodes and much of the audience might share in that fatigue for a show which would have benefitted from some judicial episode-chopping (two or three, maybe).
Admittedly, The Wilds does set itself up for a lot of backstory and exposition, given that it revolves around nine 17-year-olds (many of whom have never met each other) whose plane has crash-landed on an island on their way to a Hawaii summer camp entitled The Dawn Of Eve. Except maybe the flight's freefall was no accident, and that they were all destined to wind up cut off from civilisation as part of a grotesque social experiment. Adding to the narrative pile-up is the fact that the story occurs in three time zones: being debriefed by two authoritative-looking suits after their rescue; their lives before which largely explains why they needed a summer retreat; and their struggles on the island itself.
Among the crew of young women is a Christian prom queen (Mia Healey), a big-hearted drug dealer with a big heart (Shannon Berry), a set of very different twins (non-siblings Reign Edwards and Helena Howard), an appearance-obsessed cellist (Sophia Ali), and a schoolgirl (Sarah Pidgeon) recovering from an inappropriate fling with a bestselling author. As you barely need to be told, all of them have a hint of darkness in their lives and go through physical and psychological alterations while on the island. Watching events develop and studying the group's behaviour on surveillance screens from afar are members of a shady organisation, helmed by Rachel Griffiths (Hilary and Jackie, Six Feet Under), whose real motivations are not exactly crystal in their clarity.
Conceived by Sarah Streicher (whose TV writing credits include Daredevil), The Wilds features strong performances from a cast of actresses mainly in their early twenties, and the episodes will either zip or drag by, depending on how much you invest in the backstory which drives that particular 50 minutes. If you need to know beforehand whether the story is all wrapped up by the finale or if it's left open for a possible second season, well, that would be telling. After all, this is a show mainly about secrets.
Amazon Prime Video, Friday 11 December.