On Screen: Yellowjackets Excites and Mystifies With Its Parallel Storylines

Digital illustration by Reid Alexander.

Welcome back to On Screen, The Augur Bit’s television and film review column! This time, I’ll be talking about Showtime’s new hit show, Yellowjackets.

Yellowjackets, set in the 1990s, follows a girls soccer team named—you guessed it—the Yellowjackets. The story begins when the team’s plane crashes in the middle of the Canadian wilderness on the way to a tournament. 

The first scene of the pilot jumps ahead to a few months after the crash: An unidentified member of the Yellowjackets is being chased through the woods and eventually falls into a spear-filled pit to her death. Her fellow teammates, now dressed in cult-esque garb and masks, retrieve her body and, alarmingly, cook and eat her flesh. 

Seeing cannibalism is a jarring way to start a show…. The scene tells the audience that the series won’t be an easy watch. 

The show cuts between the action in the wilderness and the present-day struggles of the grown-up survivors, including PTSD, stunted emotional maturity and the criminal implications of their actions.

The show’s forward flashes fill the audience with a sense of dread. When some of the standout characters from the ’90s haven’t yet appeared in the present-day plot line, the audience is forced to assume the worst about their fates. The parallel stories format lends suspense and an ominous aura to the show.

Though the constant cuts between time periods can sometimes feel break-neck and confusing, neither storyline would be as interesting without the other. Seeing the Yellowjackets navigate life not only as teens in the wilderness but also as traumatized adults enables a deeper understanding of the characters.

The central question of Yellowjackets is how a group of likable teen girls devolved into a cannibalistic clan and eventually made it back to the real world without being caught or convicted for their crimes. That puzzle is the crux of Yellowjackets, making it a mystery as well as a survival show.

Yellowjackets isn’t without its flaws. The show balances a lot between its two storylines, which makes certain plot points feel unfinished or ungrounded. The modern-day storyline also moves at a much slower pace than the ’90s one, which makes parts of the show feel uneven.

But all in all, Yellowjackets is worthwhile. Its mode of storytelling is hard to find in other shows, and the season finale sets up what is sure to be an action-packed second season.

My rating: 7/10

If you liked this show, you should watch: Lost, Station Eleven and Euphoria 

Sign up for our weekly newsletter!Current GDS high school students and teachers receive the newsletter automatically.