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Why The Wilds is One of the Best Survival Dramas Since Lost



The eight stranded teenage girls in the YA drama The Wilds

There have been a few solid attempts at survival dramas specifically around plane crashes, including 2018’s Manifest and 2019’s Departure. However, there are few that match up to the longevity and appeal of Jeffery Lieber, J.J. Abrams, and Damon Lindelof’s Lost. Sarah Streicher’s 2020 drama The Wilds, however, meets the same criteria and more.

The series follows eight teenage girls of diverse backgrounds who find themselves stranded on an island after their plane malfunctions and must put their differences aside to survive. The crash occurs while the group is on their way to a wellness retreat, which they are unaware is staged and in reality a part of a social experiment. The biggest appeal of the series is the unpacking of modern problems and fears in today’s youth. Streicher’s show tackles homophobia, religion, eating disorders, mental illness, and parental relationships. The inclusion of these problems makes the show highly believable and relatable to its audience.

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In an interview with LRM, creator Sarah Streicher explains that their goal was exactly this: “to tell the story authentically and honestly.” The creators manage to achieve this by deeply considering their characters’ motivations and perspectives of the modern world depending on their origins. The cast delivered talent in this area as well. Mia Healey, who plays Shelby Goodkind in the series, reveals in a Collider interview with Perry Nemiroff that the character taught her to play “the truth in the scenes that is unspoken”. Healey identifies something here that makes the show that much more captivating, that being the unspoken truth. Here’s why Amazon Prime Video’s The Wilds is one of the best survival dramas since Lost.

While Lost dabbled in addiction and betrayal, The Wilds confronts collective problems, not just for youth but for humanity. Each episode visits the main cause of each girl being sent to the retreat and gradually every character must face their particular issue on the island. Season one opens with Leah Rilke and her concerning relationship with an author much older than her. Although their relationship has ended, Leah continues to fixate on this man instead of on survival. Many of the characters behave similarly to Leah, putting their problems first.

Related: The Wilds Season 2 Trailer Introduces a New Group of Test Subjects

For example, Rachel Reid, a competitive swimmer, hangs onto her obsession with exercise and disordered eating rather than conserving energy. Throughout the first season, the girls untangle their problems as a collective and eventually develop a safe space for one another. This is exactly what the leader of the social experiment, Gretchen Klein, wants, to prove that the patriarchy is at fault for issues like Leah’s and Rachel’s. Gretchen’s point is explored further in the second season, which features a group of stranded boys who quickly reject each other and divide over toxic behavior.

Unlike Lost, whose adventures are mostly driven by male leads like Jack and Locke, The Wilds approaches survival from the female perspective. Not only is the audience presented with women solving problems, but they are also exposed to a female villain, Gretchen Klein, played by Rachel Griffiths. In a Collider conversation with co-creator Amy Harris, Harris confirms that while The Wilds has elements that are an homage to Lost and Cast Away, it is “inherently different” and unique due to “telling it through the lens of teenage girls.”