Here’s What to Watch If You Liked Yellowjackets


Yellowjackets was a runaway hit this fall, becoming Showtime’s most-watched premiere season in six years. Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, the series takes a one-of-a-kind approach to what might otherwise have been a conventional survival story. It’s a successful exercise in genre-bending TV, striking just the right balance between horror, drama, and humor.

From its grungy VHS-style opening credits that look straight out of a Nirvana music video, to its nuanced handling of trauma, Yellowjackets ambitiously spans decades to tell a fascinating story that’s as emotionally engrossing as it is thrilling. It’s semi-recognizable at first, but the “90s soccer team plane crash” is only the beginning of this gripping show, which quickly becomes about more than survival, since the show simultaneously follows the survivors of the crash decades later, struggling under the weight of their past. The nostalgic period details, slow-burn, and gruesome central mystery as piercing as a yellow jacket sting had us all on the edges of our seats each week. Plus, there was fantastic acting from Juliette Lewis and Melanie Lynskey to back this all up.

The Yellowjackets ‘(the girls’ soccer team) time in the wilderness remains shrouded in mystery, though going off what we’ve seen so far – especially that shocking opening scene – we’re in for some more dark, twisted stuff in season two of “TV’s most f ** ked-up show“Maybe you’re still watching and want to line up your next thrilling series, or you’ve finished and there’s a Yellowjacketsshaped void in your heart. The good news is, there’s plenty to tide you over until next season. Stories of teenage survival, life-or-death high school social politics, and good old-fashioned thrills can be found elsewhere. Here are some places to start for those looking to feed their hunger.

11 Cruel Summer


Olivia Holt and Chiara Aurella Cruel Summer.
Freeform

Premiering last year and quickly becoming a popular and critical hit like Yellowjackets, this binge-worthy mystery-drama is also set in the 90s – so those looking for another dose of sundresses-over-t-shirts and The Cranberries are in for a treat. Beyond its kickass soundtrack and on-point fashion sense, Cruel Summer also injects its nostalgic setting with a dark story of abuse and betrayal. It alternates between the viewpoints of two girls, one who is accused of witnessing the other’s abduction and doing nothing. Cruel Summer transcends the typical teen drama trappings with a great premise and a well-crafted plot. It all pays off with a strong shocker of a finale. Now we just have to wait for Season 2.

Related: Cruel Summer Renewed for Second Season

10 The Wilds


Helena Howard in The Wilds.
Amazon Prime Video

It’s impossible to ignore the similarities between Yellowjackets and The Wilds, which hit Amazon Prime in 2020. Created by Sarah Streicher and centered around a plane crash like a surprising amount of other shows, The Wilds tells the story of a group of girls on their way to a special wellness retreat in Hawaii when their plane crashes and strands them on a deserted island. Much like in Yellowjackets, the girls come together as they struggle to survive, friendships and tensions developing along the way. However, the longer they stay on the island and work to get rescued, the less anything makes sense. Soon, the group begins to unravel shocking truths about the island they’ve found themselves on, and what (or who) really caused their plane to crash. Season 2 is likely to come with more answers, and surprises. It premieres May 6 on Prime.


9 American Horror Story


Evan Peters in a skeleton costume in American Horror Story.
FX

This one might seem a bit out-of-left-field, but Yellowjackets certainly had a scary side that set a new bar for goosebumps-inducing TV. American Horror Story brought genre-bending horror to TV first, and with considerable style (and camp). Ryan Murphy’s hit anthology series has been around since 2011, each of the 10 seasons taking on new settings and characters. Murphy pays homage to classic horror films and tropes, from 80s slasher films to the mockumentaries of the early 2000s. It all starts out with an unconventional twist on the haunted house story with Murder House. The seasons get increasingly wacky and imaginative, though they are often plagued by uneven storytelling that bites off more than it can chew (ahem, Double Feature). Coven or 1984 would be great follow-ups if you loved the horror and supernatural elements and woman-centric themes of Yellowjackets. Plus, Ryan Murphy serves up the scares of his spooky anthology series with a fair share of camp (and laughs).

Related: Endings of Every Season of American Horror Story Explained

8 Lord of the Flies


Boys in masks in Lord of the Flies
British Lion Films.

This film, the first adaptation of William Golding’s classic novel Lord of the Flies, remains the definitive plane crash story – and the reason the trope became so popular in the first place. Peter Brook’s 1963 film proves that there is a goldmine of commentary on human nature to be found in a relatively simple premise: children forming a society of their own in the aftermath of disaster. Viewers were gripped by the descent of a group of British schoolboys into savagery after they are stranded on an island. The novel became the story of the two warring elements of human nature, organized society versus base impulses. It was followed up by an inferior 1990 remake, and now director Luca Guadagnino has set his sights on a modern version of the book / film, though buzz has died down since 2020.


7 Riverdale


Riverdale CW season 6 Cole Sprouse KJ Apa Lili Rienhart Camila Mendes
The CW

This one is not exactly a prestige drama, but it certainly has many of the ingredients that made Yellowjackets such a hit. A spooky, ethereal wilderness setting! The (most likely) supernatural! Unhinged twists! Teen drama and love triangles! Expanding on the classic Archie comics it’s based on, Riverdale adds a few quirky elements of its own, including a gang war over a drug called “jingle jangle” and a possibly demonic board game. Throw in some off-the-wall writing and some well-placed musical episodes (chock-full of pop-culture references) and you have yourself a fun, if a bit ridiculous, show. It’s set to return for a 6th season on March 20th.

6 Manifesto


Manifesto
Warner Bros. / NBC

In an amazing twist on the usual premise, Manifesto is about a plane crash that did not happen. A plane presumed to have crashed five years ago suddenly reappears in New York with its crew and passengers completely unharmed. While the rest of the world has moved on, the passengers have not. In fact, they have not aged a day since the plane disappeared. As they struggle to integrate into a world that has gone on without them, they become enveloped in the mystery of what exactly happened on their flight from Jamaica, grappling with new, haunting visions and government conspiracies. Like Yellowjackets, it has a large dose of absurdity to swallow along with its emotional and family drama, though it veers into over-the-top territory far more frequently than Yellowjackets ever does. That does not mean Manifesto isn’t still watchable, though.


5 The Society


Toby Wallace in The Society.
Netflix

Touted as a modern take on Lord of the Flies, The Society follows a group of high school students from a wealthy town who return home from a trip to find everyone has vanished from their town, which has become blocked off and surrounded by an impenetrable forest. Forced to fend for themselves, the show follows the teens as they create their own rules, organize their own society, and try to unravel the mystery of what happened to their town. It was canceled after just one season, but it explored interesting ideas of how a society might be constructed once familiar worldly institutions fall away, even when all that’s left is a group of hormonal teenagers.

4 Lost


Lost
ABC

The OG plane crash show, Lost was a television event when it aired each week, racking up viewership as high as 23 million in the Season 2 premiere, as audiences tuned in to find out what would happen next to the plane crash survivors stranded on a mysterious pacific island. Strange noises, supernatural forces, timeline confusion, and flashbacks made this show a force to be reckoned with in the television landscape of the 2000s. With great character building and genius plotting, it’s easy to see the similarities to Yellowjackets. Unfortunately, its finale received a fair amount of blow back from frustrated viewers who expected a satisfying conclusion to years of complex mysteries and character development. Even so, some argue it remains misunderstood and worthy of respect nonetheless. Creator Damon Lindelof would go on to make the much more wrapped-up and satisfying The Leftovers on HBO.


3 The 100


Eliza Taylor in the 100.
The CW

Another gripping teen drama about building a society from the rubble of disaster, this post-apocalyptic story follows a group of juvenile delinquents who are sent to dystopian earth to see if it is habitable. As they confront the survivors and navigate a new, vicious world, teenage anxieties (and romances) mix with real danger and violence. Coming of age becomes a necessity of survival in The 100, as a group of outcasts struggles to unite humanity after it has shattered into warring factions. Do not expect too much highbrow commentary here, the thrills of the show hinge on some recognizable teen drama tropes, though the setting and premise alone are enough to make this a standout.

2 Twin peaks


Fire Walk With Me Scream
New Line Cinema

Twin peaks does not quite embody the “feel” of the 90s as much as Yellowjackets, but it was a direct product of the decade. Opening with the discovery of the body of the town homecoming queen, Laura Palmer, David Lynch’s masterpiece slowly reveals the dark depths of the quirky, idyllic town of Twin Peaks, Washington with his trademark style of humor, soapy drama, and unforgettable visuals. Watching Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) struggle against the dark, supernatural forces at work in this town was a fascinating wonder to behold, and thankfully we saw the sprawling continuation of the franchise with 2018’s The Return. Like Yellowjackets, this is a series that knows how to draw you in and make your skin crawl, all while loving and laughing with its central characters.

Related: Explained: How Twin Peaks Changed Television

1 Wayward Pines


Wayward Pines
Fox

Directed by the 21st century’s most notorious lover of cinematic twists, M. Night Shyamalan, it’s no surprise that this series was full of intrigue and mind-blowing reveals. It moved with a quick pace and a lot of style, directly referencing Twin peaks in a lot of ways. For one, Wayward Pines follows a Secret Service agent who arrives in a picturesque, isolated town to investigate a disappearance. It went a bit off the rails in its second season, but the fascinating mystery that deepens in the first season is worth a watch, and will certainly remind viewers of the strange, not-quite-as-it-seems wilderness setting the Yellowjackets soccer team find themselves in after the plane crash.



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