Girls Vs Wild: A Review of The Wilds

Every now and then a show comes out that isn’t explicitly about lesbians, but it sets off my lesbian spidey sense. The Wilds is one of those shows. So what’s it about? A group of teen girls from very different backgrounds become stranded on a deserted island after their plane crashes. They fight, they bond, they reflect on past traumas. But, it soon becomes clear that they didn’t wind up on that island by accident.

We were especially glad for the lesbian representation, since obviously you can’t have a girls-only island without at least one lesbian, and ideally at least two, purely for the makeout factor. But is this show worth watching? Read on to find out. 

The Bad

As with most teenage coming of age dramas, you’ll get hyper-sexualization. Of course teens talk about sex, that can’t be avoided. But is it necessary to show it? Absolutely not. This trend drives younger girls to do things they’re not mentally or even physically ready for because they’re bombarded with these images.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, there is storyline about one of the girls, who was 16 at the time, having an affair with a grown man. They go so far as to show us their night together. It was truly disgusting. It felt at times that the show was trying to make us sympathize with the man by reminding us that the girl lied about turning 18 when in reality she turned 17. As though that makes it any better. This show’s primary audience is younger women and they painted this grown man as sympathetic, even attractive, in spite of him being a predator.

The So-So

There is blatant product placement. And somehow this is funnier than most of the jokes. Additionally, once you realize the whole point of stranding these girls on this island is to prove that women and girls thrive in single-sex environments, you start wondering if that was entirely too much. In real life, there have been several studies that proved this. Like this one that found that female students perform better in math when in single-sex classes or this one that found that teenaged girls go better in single-sex schools, especially when they have high achieving girls in their class.

So was it really necessary to put the girls through immense trauma to prove a point? I guess having them in a classroom wouldn’t be as… well… wild. Another thing that might get under your skin is the fact that the so-called survival expert, Dot, who claims to watch a lot of Man Vs Wild, doesn’t act like it.

The girls spend a lot of time sitting around before getting anything done. And anyone who has watched Man Vs Wild knows the first thing Mr. Grylls tells you to do is find water. Then find or build shelter. And finally get yourself food. But of course, this can be forgiven when you remember teenaged brains haven’t finished developing yet. And lastly, we get to the lesbian storyline. One of the girls, Shelby, starts off being pretty homophobic. As it turns out she has a bad case of internalized homophobia. The trope of “the homophobe was actually gay the whole time” is getting a little tired, but in Shelby’s case it could be forgiven once you learn about her life before the island.  

The Good

Once you get far enough into the season, the relationship between Toni, the other lesbian, and Shelby is cute. You’ll root for them, hoping they can keep this up once they’re off the island.

But one unique aspect of this show does serves as an important reminder to all the women and girls watching: in The Wilds, eight girls from different backgrounds, with vastly different life experiences are forced to interact in a situation they cannot immediately leave. A bit like high school in a sense.

Eventually they realize they aren’t so different. They begin to understand each other through shared experiences. Because there is just so much trauma in girlhood on its own without having to Bear Grylls it on a deserted island. We are reminded that we are like other girls. And that’s okay. Toni struggles to process her anger. Shelby cuts her hair when she feels she has no control over anything. We see the other girls struggle with eating disorders, living up to expectations, and shouldering much more responsibility than a girl should have to. The Wilds reminds us that these shared experiences will help us survive.

Should I Watch It?

You might be wondering how it stacks up to arguably the greatest teen coming of age show of all time, Derry Girls. It isn’t really fair to compare the two, seeing as how The Wilds is much more of a drama. But right now, nothing can touch Derry Girls. Having said that, it’s still worth checking out. It’s a show you can easily binge, that sets up the intrigue well enough to keep you going onto the next episode. The entire first season is available now on Amazon Prime. 

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