The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I was sitting in my dad’s house one evening in Manhattan New York, specifically the West Village, having a casual conversation with him and his girlfriend, Jamie. We were talking about new TV shows we were watching and while I had nothing to contribute, Jamie was quick and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Watch The Wilds on Amazon Prime! I really enjoyed it.” After hearing her recommendation, I did more research on the show to see what the plot was, and I decided to give it a watch. And as the old saying goes, the rest is history.
The main plot of the show is that there are eight girls that either decide to or are forced to go on what is supposed to be a weekend retreat in paradise. After being served a decadent chocolate cake mid-flight on their way, their fancy private jet that is taking them to Hawai’i begins to have severe turbulence. The plane ends up crashing into the ocean. The girls manage to swim to a nearby island and the show centers around what the girls do after this point: how they interact, conflicts they have, and flashbacks into the individual pasts of each of the girls.
Each episode is around fifty minutes in length and there are ten in total. Eight of the ten episodes toggle between present day, life on the island after the crash, and back into the past of the lives of each of the eight girls; so, one episode per character. I found this format incredible because my interest was always peaked. It also created incredibly rich character backstories for all eight characters. The only common thread connecting the young women was quite honestly only that they were American, the same age, and that they were women. Everything else between them was very different.
Another positive of this episode format was that there was no main character. Somehow, the creators of the show managed to put the same amount of emphasis on all eight characters with their respective episodes. While this is great, it put more responsibility on the show’s creators to make diverse and realistic backstories for each girl. Even though it was most likely a challenge, they pulled this off excellently. Rachel and Nora are sisters; Rachel is a diver who competes in highly competitive competitions and Nora is an introverted bookworm. Martha and Toni (Toni being my roommate’s favorite character) are best friends; Martha loves dancing and Toni plays basketball. Shelby and Dot are from Texas and are classmates from school; Shelby is a pageant queen and Dot is a survival TV show enthusiast. And lastly, there’s Leah and Fatin who are also acquaintances from school.
One of the things that makes this show so special is the diversity and representation it has. Martha and Toni happen to be Native American, Rachel and Nora are biracial, and Fatin is of South Asian descent. In addition, Toni is openly lesbian. What’s even better, is that the identities they play in the show are their real identities (or very similar to them) outside of the show. This is particularly noteworthy for the two Native characters because of the complete absence of representation typically given to this community in films/TV. Jenna Clause, who plays Martha, is actually Native American, and Erana James, who plays Toni, is an indigenous New Zealander.
Enough about representation ON screen, what about OFF screen? Behind the scenes, there is also lots of diversity. Four out of the six executive producers are women and the show itself was created by a woman named Sarah Streicher. I believe the reason that the on screen representation is so believable is because there is also diversity off screen, and because the people behind the scenes are passionate about accurately representing underrepresented groups. This isn’t white men writing these characters; it’s women and men who have various unique backgrounds doing so.
Although the eight main actresses in the film are incredibly young and don’t have much professional acting experience, they absolutely killed it with the acting. This shocked my roommate and I. These roles and this type of show are intense, and the acting isn’t easy at all. Each of the women took on this challenge with everything they had and did a terrific job. The fights, the crying, the happiness, the injuries, and the pain were all acted beautifly.
This show doesn’t just have solid characters and an intriguing plot, it also has a strong artistic backing that makes it visually beautiful. Because of the premise of the series, cinematography, costume, makeup, hair, and props are also majorly important. They film on an uninhabited island in New Zealand which works perfectly as their setting. The cinematography team did a great job capturing the landscape and the way the girls interacted with it. The special FX makeup was outstanding, as it beautifully captured sunburns, cuts, and scrapes. It was one of the many aspects that made the show feel and look real.
This wouldn’t be a proper review unless I gave it a score out of ten, right? In all seriousness, because of the on and off screen representation, the plot, the acting, and the visuals such as cinematography and makeup, I would give this show a 9.5 out of 10. It is a must watch especially for young women.