Crash landing on-screen with Yellowjackets

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A photograph of a crashed plane. The plane is damaged and abandoned, there is nothing around for miles except a mountain range in the background.
Reminds me of that time I had to read Hatchet for English class… osrever via Pixabay

Have you run out of things to watch? Here’s a new one!

Are you the type of person to promise that you’ll watch that show your friend recommends but you never do? Or are you the type of person to never start watching anything new, always rewatching the things you know you love? Avoiding anything that’s not already finished? 

Me too. 

But, after a solid two years of only Hell’s Kitchen, I branched out. And I found something new that I haven’t been able to move on from. 

Yellowjackets

The story follows a high school girls’ soccer team from New Jersey. On their way to the National Championship, their plane crashes. The team ends up stranded in the wilderness, forced to do whatever they can to survive. 

You might be asking yourself, “But Will, how is that any different from The Wilds or Lost?” And that’s a great question! 

The answer is my favorite part about Yellowjackets: consequences. 

The show flips between the girls as teenagers in the wilderness and them as adults, living with the repercussions of their actions and everything they were forced to do to survive. The way their relationships have been shaped, the way they live their lives because of the past. 

The way they can never truly escape their past. 

The main character of the first season (of which there are currently two with a third on its way for 2025) is arguably Jackie Taylor. Jackie is simply doomed by the narrative from the first episode. She’s the team captain. That pressure rests on her shoulders and becomes tenfold when they crash.  

Typically when TV shows present us with leader characters – think Rick Grimes or Captain America – no matter what happens, they lead. They lead their people out of the darkness.  

That’s not Jackie. Jackie struggles deeply with the wilderness, she doesn’t adapt like the others do. It creates this imbalance that is beautiful tension for the viewer. 

Jackie is the other side of Shauna Shipman’s coin. Shauna has been Jackie’s best friend since childhood. She is the one who does what needs to be done for them to survive. As an adult, it almost feels like she’s haunted by the wilderness.  

Patterns appear, taking actions she would’ve done as a teenager, she seems drawn to them. It creates a compelling character that you want to root for, no matter the bad things she does. 

My personal favorite character is Lottie Matthews. She has diagnosed schizophrenia, which becomes a bit of a problem being crashed in the wilderness for several months once she runs out of her meds.  

Lottie creates this back and forth of the wilderness as its own entity within the show. She sees the wilderness as a living thing through visions and it becomes this thing that holds power over them. The question is always held over the girls, “how much of this is the wilderness as supernatural and how much of it is trauma?” 

How can you go from a battle to survive every moment of every day to simply home? How do you leave the wilderness, this living, wild, all-consuming thing, to streets, sidewalks, shops? How can you exist through all of that and be expected to be who you used to be? 

Those are the questions Yellowjackets forces you to ask yourself. Who do you become without the things that happened to you? Who are you if not trauma reincarnated? When the wilderness is the very earth of you, what do you become without it? 

If you want a show that forces you to confront yourself in a way that feels disjointed, out of your control, something you can’t control, like the wilderness, Yellowjackets is for you. 

Or if you’re simply an English major like me who loves to pour over the details, Yellowjackets is for you. 

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