Ever since December 2020, whenever anyone asked me for a TV show recommendation I immediately said The Wilds. The Prime Video survival thriller series slipped under the radar in the holiday rush, but it’s one of the most baffling and fascinating series I’ve ever seen. Now, in a post-Yellowjackets world, this show is overdue for a re-examination, and the second season only proves that this hidden gem is ready to be mined.
If you’re one of the many people who missed out on The Wilds the first time, it has a straightforward premise. After a plane crash, a ragtag group of girls are stranded on a deserted island. We see them on the island, in flashbacks to their earlier lives, and in flashforwards to them being interviewed right after rescue. Over the course of Season 1 each girl was revealed to have her own tragic backstory, ranging from a dying dad to an abusive relationship to an eating disorder, all given the gravity they deserved.
In Season 2, every aspect I loved about Season 1 is amplified. The teen drama feels real, the survival is gripping, and the plot both pays off the previous cliffhanger and sets up an equally intriguing one. Then there’s the big selling point: This season has boys, who are stranded on a different island as a “control group” for the experiment.
When I described The Wilds to people, I compared it to shows like Lost, Riverdale, and Yellowjackets. But, in a way, it improves on each of these. Like Lost, there’s a vast conspiracy, but The Wilds doesn’t waste time getting to the meat of it. It’s established from the get-go that the plane crash is manufactured and the girls are being monitored to see how they handle a crisis. This conspiracy is revisited in Season 2, with more scenes in the research facility where everyone is kept post-rescue.
Like Riverdale, there’s melodrama, but Season 2 moves the angst from backstories to the current interactions between the castaways. The girls deepen their relationships with each other for good and bad, and the boys have a tumultuous dynamic from the start. There are teen drama mainstays, but there are also characters that could only work in a show like this.
Then, there’s Yellowjackets. The Showtime series is practically synonymous with “female-led survival thriller,” but it’s made for adults. The Wilds is a show about teens, for teens, albeit played by characters who are all in their 20s, as is the teen drama way. There’s messy infighting, romance, stupid jokes, and absolutely baffling singalongs that wouldn’t be out of place in any cafeteria, with the only difference being that those involved are in much more dire need of sunscreen.
After watching Season 2, it’s clear to me that The Wilds will remain my go-to TV recommendation. It’s the kind of show that’s just outrageous enough with its story choices, cameos, and dialogue to make you laugh at how teens act, but real enough to remind you how serious the most minute issues were at that age.
Yes, the problems these kids are facing are a matter of life or death. But when you were 16, what wasn’t life or death?
The Wilds Season 2 premieres May 6, 2022. on Prime Video.