Now that I’ve seen the pilot of Yellowjackets, I can tell you a variety of ways you could have sold me on giving this show a try. Queer actress Jasmin Savoy Brown! One of my childhood crushes, Christina Ricci! Queer female main character! Big Little Lies meets The Wilds! Those all would have hooked me, easily. But I was sold by learning it also features Sarah Desjardin, who first charmed me in her queer role on the devastatingly underappreciated show Impulse and then later as a deliciously malicious prep school teen on Riverdale. And if it’s any indication how much I enjoyed this first episode, by the time Sarah’s character appeared on screen, I was so invested that I had completely forgotten why I started it in the first place, yelping with joy when I saw her.
All I knew about this show going into it was that it would toe the line between standard Showtime drama and thriller, and honestly I’m glad I didn’t really know anything else. That said, I’m about to spill some pilot spoilers on you to try to get you to watch, so if you’re already sold, now’s the time to jump ship.
For those of you who want to know more, let’s get into it.
Yellowjackets is the story of a high school girls soccer team, their mascot being the titular role, whose plane goes down on their way to a championship game, forcing them to do whatever it takes to survive for 18 months until they’re rescued. The show jumps between present day and the 90s, a popular trend in TV lately, probably partially due to the average age of TV writers, 90s nostalgia being hot right now, and teen dramas being easier to manipulate without the interference of smartphones.
The Yellowjackets pilot comes in hot, dropping huge reveals right off the bat, including but not limited to, a) exactly how long the girls were stranded for, b) at least four girls who survive into adulthood, c) that the girls resorted to cannibalism and other cult-like activity while stranded. These big reveals dropping in episode one makes me think there are a lot more secrets yet to be revealed.
One of the survivors in question is Taissa, who is our as-of-yet only queer player. We haven’t spent quite enough time with Teen Taissa (Jasmine Savoy Brown) to know if she came out before the crash (just that she’s fiercely competitive and a wee bit manipulative). But Adult Taissa (Tawny Cypress) is shown with her wife and son. An overeager, borderline insensitive photographer brings up her childhood trauma with an off-handed remark and calls her the Queer Kamala, which feels…reductive. But she holds her head high and smiles for the camera, her wife supporting her all the while.
As of right now, Taissa and her wife are the only confirmed queer characters, but we’re only one episode in, and I have some Opinions about the way Teen Shauna was looking at her friend Jackie and an alternate theory about why she did the things she did, but that’s a discussion for a later date. There are other teens on the island with the four survivors, and there could be more survivors we don’t know about. Plus, there’s still more pre-crash backstory to delve into, so it’s quite possible Teen Taissa has more queer peers. Only time will tell! But it’s a soccer team, so I feel good about our odds.
Also, this is neither here nor there, but the casting for the Teen and Adult versions of these characters are spot-on. There was a point that I fully thought they, for some reason, chose to use the same actor for both versions of the character of Misty, because Christina Ricci was almost unrecognizable and looked so much like Sammi Hanratty that I was totally thrown. Anyway!
I know that “Lord of the Flies but with girls” is also the concept for The Wilds, but honestly? I’m here for it. There are 8 billion Batman movies, why not a whole slew of different takes of how teen girls would act if left to their own devices? Because the truth is, this concept can play out in a thousand different ways depending on the situation, resources, and the particular teens. It’s such a fascinating character study, and as someone who has tried to mentally anxiety-prep what I would do in the unlikely event I was stranded in the wilderness, I find shows like this fascinating. And having been a teen girl who was friends with mostly only other teen girls, this particular aspect of the concept intrigues me the most. Hell, while I WAS a teen girl, desperately trying to keep my closet door closed, sometimes “well we’re alone on a deserted island” was the only way I could even allow myself to *imagine* kissing a girl. (Thanks, Catholic guilt!) All this to say, for this particular genre of show, I say the more the merrier.
One difference between these two shows that seems small on paper but I think will make a huge impact is that, on The Wilds, they were largely strangers, with only two or three pairings who knew each other before the crash. The Yellowjackets are already a team, albeit one with some cohesion issues, so whether that helps them stick together or is the thing that drives them apart is anyone’s guess. Will the captain of the team end up the de facto leader or will she get the Scar treatment and get eaten by the hyenas she thought she had a handle on? Will the most ruthless among them take charge or will she hold back for fear of hurting someone (again)? What is going ON behind Misty the Mascot’s wild and terrifying eyes?
New episodes of Yellowjackets air Sundays on Showtime, and the show’s #1 fan Kayla will be making sure to keep us apprised of the gay goings-on in Boobs on Your Tube every week henceforth! Until then… Buzz! Buzz! Buzz! BUZZ! BUZZ!