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Spark Newsmagazine


Spark Newsmagazine


Edible Complex

With a horrifying tale of survival, Showtime’s Yellowjackets returns for a second season.
story by Allie Haucke | art by Will Huelskamp
The antler queen, pictured, leads the cult of teenage girls. (Will Huelskamp)

With themes of cannibalism, murder, and betrayal, Showtime’s seven-time Emmy-nominated series Yellowjackets, with its sinister tale of how a group of teenage girls survived unfathomable conditions, begs the question of what it would take to survive over a year stranded in the Canadian wilderness.

The newly-popular show has returned for a second season. The series follows a girls high school soccer team in 1996 after their plane crashed in the Canadian wilderness on their way to nationals. The story flashes back and forth between the horrors the girls faced in the wilderness and the survivors’ lives in 2021.

The series features a large cast, but there is no standout performance – as every actor is equally spectacular.  Melanie Lynskey, from HBO’s The Last Of Us, plays the adult version of Shauna, one of the few survivors. Lynskey does a phenomenal job portraying her trauma, even 25 years later. She brilliantly shows Shauna as a meek character while slowly revealing her brutal and cunning nature that lies within.

Christina Ricci, from The Addams Family, plays the adult Misty, one of the remaining survivors alongside Shauna. Ricci portrays a different side of surviving the wilderness. Ricci plays a seemingly crazy woman who loves the attention she gets from what she went through. She is able to portray multiple layers to Misty while garnering sympathy from viewers by showing how desperately Misty just wants to be accepted by everyone in her life.

Though with much less acting experience, the young cast is just as amazing as their older counterparts. Sophie Thatcher, from Star Wars’ The Book of Boba Fett, plays teenage Natalie, a rebellious member of the group. Thatcher convincingly plays a powerful, confident young woman, while also being able to show glimpses of her emotional trauma hiding underneath the strong exterior. Scream V and Scream VI’s Jasmin Savoy Brown plays young Taissa Turner, the star of the Yellowjackets soccer team. All of the girls have secrets, slowly being revealed throughout their time in the woods, but Taissa’s has yet to be found out by her teammates. Brown gives an emotional performance as a queer young woman, not able to express who she is to others, an experience that many teenage girls can relate to, even in modern times. 

The show holds a grand sense of mystery from the very first scene. The first episode opens with a girl whose face can’t be seen running through the woods, being hunted by her teammates. The hunting leader is referred to as the “antler queen”. It is shown from the very first scene what the girls will devolve into: one girl leading the rest in a cannibalistic, cult-like structure. It leaves the viewers wondering how they got to that point, who was being hunted, and the identity of the antler queen.

Yellowjackets takes inspiration from William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. The show’s title is a nod to the novel, because while flies may be a fitting analogy for the boys, the girls in Yellowjackets are much more comparable to the wasps. The girls have the ferocity and intelligence of yellowjacket wasps, with their venomous stingers. Like yellowjackets, the girls are violent, aggressive, astute, and just like the namesake insects, they are willing to turn to cannibalism.

Not for viewers with weak stomachs, Yellowjackets, creates some truly horrifying images. A rotating roster of directors and executive producer Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body) don’t shy away from showing gore and blood – never cutting away from the most brutal and vile of scenes. The show effectively balances the horror and drama in the girls’ lives. There are moments of normalcy mixed in as adolescent drama plays as much of a role in the plot as the horrifying details of their survival. 

Don’t be fooled by the outward appearance of the show; it’s not all dreary. The show is devastating, with characters constantly being lost to truly disturbing deaths, but humor is expertly worked in. The young girls are in a nightmarish scenario, but they are still friends, they have been for years. They have a natural banter and humor. Their older counterparts garner numerous laughs from viewers as well. With comical misunderstandings and one character’s strange obsession with birds, the old friends create many good moments for viewers. It’s no comedy, but the show will manage some chuckles.

Though nominated for many awards, the first season gained much less traction in comparison to the second. As the second season has begun airing, viewership has skyrocketed as the show has gained popularity on TikTok. It picks up where the first season left off, in the winter months, immediately a more sinister setting than the first season. The show successfully leaves wondering what these girls will do to survive.

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