Why The Wilds is more like My So-Called Life than Lost
On the surface, Amazon's newest TV series The Wilds has more than a few similarities to Lost. Both shows begin with a group of people realizing their plane crashed and they're stranded on a mysterious deserted island. Flashbacks tell the stories of how each person ended up on that fated plane. And they'll soon come to learn they didn't arrive on that island by accident. But according to The Wilds showrunner Amy B. Harris, the new YA drama has a lot more in common with iconic teen shows rather than that sci-fi series.
"We do stand on the shoulders of giants, for sure. Lost. We bow down to that show," Harris tells EW. "The technique of using flashbacks to flesh out people's lives pre-crash is obviously something they did so brilliantly. But we don't have any supernatural elements. This is really happening to the girls in this life. My So-Called Life, for everyone in the writers room, was a huge inspiration."
Harris says that the 1994 teen drama starring Claire Danes and Jared Leto is one of her favorite shows of all time. And she and the other writers relied on another fan-favorite teen drama for inspiration. "Strangely for me, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a major [inspiration] because of how it talked about the funny that is inside of difficult scary stories," she says. "That was really something that [The Wilds creator] Sarah [Streicher] does so beautifully in the pilot. Yes, they're in the middle of this traumatic experience, but life is funny and crazy and absurd and silly and we laugh in those moments. And sometimes that's what saves us."
Part survival drama, part dystopic slumber party, The Wilds follows a group of eight teenage girls who thought they were flying on a private jet to a tropical female empowerment retreat. But when they wake up stranded on an island after their plane crashes, they must learn to work together to survive despite coming from extremely different backgrounds and upbringings. "Tonally I really did want to live in a very grounded authentic experience of what these girls were going through but tinged with the funny, the sad, and the absurd, which I think is what life is," Harris says.
The Wilds marks new territory for the showrunner — who most notably produced Sex and the City and The Carrie Diaries — in that it's set out in ... well, the wild. But it's not the location that matters to Harris; it's the characters. "My career has been made writing about women and strong women or women who are feeling less strong but have resilience inside of them," Harris says. "This was a really exciting way to talk about coming of age. The line that really got me in the pilot and I celebrated is, 'Just try being a girl in normal-ass teenage America.'"
Adding in the stunt work and "exotic, challenging locations" of The Wilds was just the cherry on top of getting to continue to tell nuanced stories about women, something that Harris knows she's lucky she's gotten to do throughout her career. "I started in this business on Sex and the City and so I didn't even truly understand that writing authentic, complicated, and nuanced characters, particularly women characters, was a unique experience, and that it hadn't really happened before," she says. "I mean, I did once we were in it and I was like, 'Oh yeah, I don't really see this on TV.' Being able to do this with the teenage experience was pretty thrilling."
The Wilds season 1 is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.
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