Yellowjackets – The 2021 Drama You Should All Be Watching

Yellowjackets promotional poster. | Source: Sky Showtime

Cannibalism, cults, teen angst, and the brutality of friendship merge in a way never seen before in the 2021 drama: Yellowjackets. It’s a show centered around a high school girls’ soccer team who find themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere after their plane crashes. The show, currently two seasons long and renewed for a third, is incredibly violent, with no scenes holding back their full, gruesome potential. A unique exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the show divides into two timelines: the past, which takes place in 1996 and follows the group directly after the crash, and the present, set in 2021, as the surviving members of the team attempt to continue their lives after the crash, all while a blackmailer threatens to reveal their secrets. 

The highlight of Yellowjackets is the dynamics between the teenage characters in the 1996 timeline, with every character on the verge of kissing or killing another. Within the first few episodes alone, the show manages to build up an equal amount of tension with opposite moments – like a girl choosing to sleep away from her friend and a homicide. The trials of teenage friendship are portrayed as a cause of death more often than the more realistic deaths that you’d expect from a show set in the wilderness, showing how the average struggles of teenagers can easily escalate to life and death in the right circumstances. 

The ruthlessness of these relationships is shown in the finale of season one, where the character Jackie, the captain of the team, dies due to exposure after an argument with her best friend. The cause of death isn’t centered around her freezing – her final scene alive shows her being rejected by her former teammates, the girls she led throughout high school, as they all decide to turn their back on her in a moment of recklessness after the argument. This leads to the decision that she should sleep outdoors, causing her to freeze to death after being iced out by the girls she called her closest friends. 

Throughout Yellowjackets, there are many showings of dramatized betrayals that would hurt a regular person emotionally, but due to the conditions, end in death. This is one of the main appeals of the show. Managing teenage friendships feels like life or death at times, and Yellowjackets takes these feelings and turns them literally, forcing characters’ insecurities and relationships to drastically affect their future and the lives of those around them. 

Yellowjackets takes the average high school hierarchy and flips it upside down, forcing characters to readjust to their new surroundings and dynamics. The character Misty, an eccentric, bullied kid who never made many friends is suddenly one of the most powerful of the group, with her usually useless knowledge causing her to feel like she has value for the first time in her life. In contrast, the character Jackie loses all her footing, going from the most influential to practically incompetent in the new setting. Rather than supernatural activity, the fragility of this hierarchy is the catalyst of the group’s descent into madness. 

The teen timeline unfolds, showing the barbarism of teen angst all the while contrasting it with a future timeline where the characters as adults are still attempting to find their footing. This is something that reviewers either tend to see as the highlight or the pitfall of Yellowjackets. As the show reveals what happened in 1996, it also shows how characters in the present timeline deal with it, without revealing any of the reasons that they act the way they do. The characters in the show are actively suppressing everything they can about their past, causing the reveals that happen to hit twice as hard as you’re seeing it affect multiple versions of them at once. 

The way that Yellowjackets is structured forces the viewer to pay attention to both timelines because it’s impossible to understand anyone’s motivations and rationale otherwise. The show refuses to deliver a clear outline and paralleled storyline between the two timelines, instead choosing to show quick bursts of flashbacks and slowly follow up on them. This is the unique perspective on PTSD that’s rarely been shown in media in this manner. Audiences recover repressed memories faster than the characters themselves, causing them to feel like they’re experiencing the traumatic recovery with the character due to the lack of context that’s been provided beforehand. 

Yellowjackets showcases the bloodthirstiness of adolescence, dramatizing teenage experiences and forcing them to be seen from the perspective of life or death. It explores every side of friendship, from the heartwarming and sentimental to the gory and ferocious. The show reimagines the traditional portrayal of trauma, allowing audiences to experience it in real-time. Overall, Yellowjackets is a show that’s changing the game for portrayals of teenagers and PTSD everywhere.

About the Author

Mason Pattanaik
Mason Pattanaik is currently a sophomore at IMSA and a staff writer for The Acronym.

Be the first to comment on "Yellowjackets – The 2021 Drama You Should All Be Watching"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.