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Take a bite out of them
There's no buzz like Yellowjackets buzz. The drama — about a high school girls' soccer team that gets stranded in the woods in the 1990s and the fallout that continues in the present day — makes a strong case that water cooler TV is nowhere close to being on its way out. The mysteries within the series are exciting to theorize about, but there are just enough answers to keep you coming back for more. The cast is great. And it doesn't hurt that the show is full of compelling characters in both timelines. Also, cannibalism! We're devouring Season 2, but in the long wait for a new episode each week, why not watch another show like Yellowjackets to keep the thrill alive?
The world of Yellowjackets is a thing unto itself, but there are certainly other TV shows out there that might scratch a similar itch. On the hunt for more thrilling mysteries, unsettling survival stories, prickly teens, and/or '90s nostalgia? You'll find all that right here.
From the pilot episode of Yellowjackets, it's clear this is a show descended from seminal mystery-box series Lost — and not just because both kick-off with a plane crash that sends a group of people on a wild journey while fighting for their lives. Over six seasons, Lost was a masterclass in how to use multiple timelines to not only surprise and make major plot reveals, but also to develop character. While not every piece of the puzzle worked completely (the godforsaken tattoos!), surely this show endures because of how much we got to know and love the group of castaways tossed on an island with more secrets than anyone could have anticipated. Once the series was given a firm end date, it only got tighter and bolder — time travel anyone? — with its mysteries and reveals, while always remembering that the heart of the show is the characters who populate it.
A private plane carrying a group of teen girls crashes in the wilderness and they are left to fend for themselves. The premise of this Amazon Original might sound familiar to any Yellowjackets fan — and the multiple timeline format, too — but the women on The Wilds are facing a different type of obstacle: Early on, we learn that their plane crash was staged and they were stranded on this island on purpose; they are in some sort of social experiment run by mysterious "Dawn of Eve" founder Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths) and their every move is being watched. The teen angst is dialed way up in this one — thematically, The Wilds is about the struggles all teen girls face — and unlike Yellowjackets, since this group of girls are, for the most part, strangers when the show begins, much of the tension is built up around people from very different backgrounds trying to come together in order to stay alive. While the twist of the premise is revealed in the pilot, there are still lots of mysteries to mull over. Mainly: What the hell happened out there on that island? It got canceled after two seasons, unfortunately, but it's still worth watching.
For a little twist on the-teens-are-in-charge, Lord of the Flies scenario, watch The Society. Here, a few buses full of high-school students head out of town on a field trip, only to find that everyone has vanished upon their return to town. Once they discover that their town is encircled in a never-ending forest and the outside world seemingly does not exist, well, things get even weirder. Is this purgatory? Some sort of rapture situation? Was this done to them on purpose? While those questions beg for answers, more pressing in The Society's first and, most unfortunately, only season, is how these teens will survive on their own. It's interesting to watch as the high stakes force alliances, people step into surprising roles in this new world order, and teens get super into managing grocery store inventories. At the outset, things may seem a little more civilized than it does over with the Yellowjackets contingent, but it doesn't take long for things to devolve in violent and heartbreaking ways. Plus, teens just really love to throw school dances when faced with their own mortality. Who knew?
Maybe you got into Yellowjackets for the promise of cannibalism. If you're looking for something where you can actually watch a person chomp down on another person, try Santa Clarita Diet. It follows the very normal Hammond family — dad Joel (Timothy Olyphant), mom Sheila (Drew Barrymore), and their teenager, Abby (Yellowjackets' Liv Hewson) — whose quiet life is turned upside down after Sheila turns into a zombie. The show is a true comedy of errors, full of cartoonish violence and fast-paced, shamelessly silly plots. It's a lovable, laugh-out-loud series that is at its best when it really leans into the genuine bewilderment of its overwhelmed characters who are just trying to keep themselves going as they figure out what to do with a loved one who has suddenly started craving the taste of human flesh. It tragically was canceled before it really got the chance to wrap everything up, but the three seasons it did get were gleeful, gory fun. -Allison Picurro
Looking for more mean girls and murder? You'll like Dare Me, the TV series based on Meg Abbott's novel about the less-than-cheery side of high school cheerleading. One of the most compelling aspects of the first season of Yellowjackets has been watching Jackie (Ella Purnell) realize that her queen bee (pun so intended) status has no use out in the woods and seeing the shift in power dynamics between Jackie and best friend Shauna (Sophie Nélisse). This sort of toxic friendship is at the heart of Dare Me, too, with top girl and expert manipulator Beth (Marlo Kelly) and her BFF Addy (Herizen Guardiola). When a new, mysterious coach (Willa Fitzgerald) shakes things up both on the squad and within Beth and Addy's relationship, Beth's worst instincts only grow sharper. The series only lasted one season, but that's enough for a satisfying and shocking dismount (again, intended, you're welcome).
Two of the most fun elements of Yellowjackets are its mystery-box framing and the '90s nostalgia. There are heaps of both in Freeform's surprise hit Cruel Summer. The teen thriller (which will tell a new story in Season 2) is told across multiple timelines; Season 1 jumps between 1993, 1994, and 1995 and slowly unfurls the story of two girls, Kate (Olivia Holt) and Jeanette (Chiara Aurelia), connected by Kate's kidnapping and the possibility that Jeanette might have known something about it and did nothing. The show is full of twists and turns and will keep you guessing as to who to trust until the very end (and then some). Revel in the surprising reveals, teen angst, and chokers. There are so many chokers.
Oh, so you want a story played out over multiple timelines, characters that you follow throughout adolescence and adulthood, and shocking reveals that will keep you up at night? Be careful what you wish for. The German Netflix series Dark begins in a present-day fictional German town called Winden, when a young boy goes missing the search for answers to what happened to him lead into an insane time-travel journey — no, seriously, you will need a visual aid to keep track of who and when everyone is (but, like, in a good, fun way). The series is about time itself, the impending apocalypse, and the wildest family tree you will ever feast your eyes upon. It is a mystery show on steroids and worth every headache it might give you while you try to piece its very complicated puzzle together.
God bless Misty Quigley, the little psycho who gets things done on Yellowjackets. Are some of those things horrible and deeply unsettling? Yes, of course. But Misty is productive nonetheless. Samantha Hanratty, who plays Misty as a teen, somehow finds a way to make her sympathetic even when, again, doing some truly psychotic things, but it's Christina Ricci's unhinged adult version of Misty that will stay with you. For more unhinged Christina Ricci, watch The Lizzie Borden Chronicles. The Lifetime series is a continuation of the TV movie Lizzie Borden Took an Ax, in which Ricci plays the titular Lizzie, a woman who was put on trial and then acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother in the late 1800s. The show follows Lizzie's life after the trial, where she remains an outcast and her guilt is constantly in question. The series itself has some things left to be desired, but Ricci is a delight. You don't mess with Misty Quigley, and you certainly don't mess with Lizzie Borden.