Thursday, January 27, 2022

Sting Like a Yellowjacket

Yellowjackets Hive, rise, RISE! So, unless you’ve been living under a rock or your plane crashed deep in the Canadian Rockies, you’ve probably heard about Showtime’s new cult-hit series “Yellowjackets.” The story of a championship high school soccer team who crash lands and then survives 19 months alone together in the wilderness is riveting to say the least. Also, there’s probably cannibalism. Think “Lord of the Flies” meets “Alive” meets “Jawbreaker/Mean Girls.”

Told in two concurrent timelines, directly after the crash and then 25 years later, the series has some of the best young actor to adult actor casting I’ve seen in quite some time. The adult cast includes a who’s who of Gen X actress excellence: Melanie Lynskey as adult Shauna, Juliette Lewis as adult Natalie, and Christina freaking Ricci as adult Misty. And their junior counterparts (Sophie Nélisse as young Shauna, Sophie Thatcher as young Natalie and Sammi Hanratty as young Misty) are no less impressive.

If you’ve watched you know the central mystery (well, mysteries) revolve around what actually happened out there in the woods. The repercussions of their survival still reverberate 25 years later. And, again, we haven’t even really gotten to the whole eating each other stuff yet.

In a way the frantic kinetic energy of “Yellowjackets” made the perfect foil to the raw pastoral calmness of “Station Eleven.” While their stories are clearly very different, their storytelling about the ending of the world — or at least the world as they knew it — both fall along Right After and Long After timelines. Both flash us to the present, while showing us how we got there. And both revolve around central female characters finding new ways to live amid unimaginable trauma.

Also, in another pleasantly unexpected parallel, Shauna from “Yellowjackets” and Kristen “Station Eleven” are perhaps the very definition of end-game Knife Girls. Like, it’d be a real competition to watch them field dress, say, a rabbit. Or an ex-lover.

The way their storytelling diverge also perfectly complements each series. “Station Eleven” is a limited series that ran just 10 episodes that told a carefully bookended apocalyptic tale about the power of art and the connections we make around it. “Yellowjackets” is a 10-episode-per-season series that has already been renewed for its sophomore turn and left us with so many tantalizing unanswered questions. Both those formats feel right. While obviously I would watch more “Station Eleven,” the symmetry of its beginning, middle and end (even through shifting timelines) feels right. Final. Whereas I can’t wait for more Yellowjackets madness, and the insane possibilities in this story.


Carmen San Diego said...

I love Yellowjackets and all but hey showtime how about renewing The L Word too? What’s the hold up?

citizen spot said...

I must say that Yellowjackets was a must watch for me. I look forward to the second season. Just started Station 11 and it is so far quite good, though somewhat depressing at the beginning ("end" of civilization due to a deadly pandemic).