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The Wilds is an American teen drama series created by Sarah Streicher for Amazon Studios, the first season released on December 11, 2020. The series is described as "equal parts angsty teen drama and survivalist adventure" by Refinery29 while fans compare it to a female-centric Lord of the Flies meets Lost.
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En route to Hawaii, nine teenage girls from different backgrounds suddenly find themselves fighting for survival when their plane fails and crashes on a deserted, remote island. Together, the castaways clash and bond as they learn more about each other, including the secrets they bear and the traumas they endured. Amongst them is Leah, who survives to share their story as evidence mounts that their crash was not an accident but by design...

The show was renewed for a second season on December 19, 2020, eight days after its premiere. It began airing on May 6, 2022.


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The Wilds contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: All of the girls to some degree by the end of the season learn how to fight for survival out of necessity due to being stuck on the island.
  • Action Survivor: None of the girls have any training in living off the land or surviving on their own, needing to rely on each other until rescue comes.
  • Always Identical Twins: Averted for Rachel and Nora, fraternal twin sisters who look quite distinct.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Rachel has lost a hand in the future (it's later revealed this was the result of a shark attack).
  • Bait-and-Switch: The season 1 finale has Leah escape from her room and an alarm sounds. Seemingly this is to search for Leah, but it turns out it was actually for Shelby, who was suffering from anaphylactic shock. However, this leads to Leah inadvertently discovering the "Twilight of Adam" group.
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  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Realistically averted, with the girls having mussy hair, sunburns and grimy skin after days living on the island. The lack of shampoo is even discussed at one point. They DO still have smoothed, shaved legs, however.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Toni and Shelby, although the "belligerent" part comes mostly before the "sexual tension" part.
  • Best Friend: Toni and Martha are best friends pre-island.
  • Birds of a Feather: Nora and Quinn were very much alike (they're implied to both have autism). She was instantly attracted to him on seeing he shared her difficulty with social interaction. They got into a relationship, but eventually broke up.
  • Breast Attack: Nora does this to Rachel when they fight.
    Fatin: "That was a knee to the tit, ladies and gentlemen.'
  • Brick Joke: In Fatin’s flashback, while wearing her ‘Le Trash’ shirt she complains to her parents that all the over working she’s been doing will give her a hunchback, and "not from something cool, like D-Cups." In the same episode, Rachel is wearing the ‘Le Trash’ shirt whilst the group looks for Fatin.
  • Cliffhanger: Season 2 ends on one: most of the girls and boys unite and try to escape to the roof, only to find themselves still stuck on an island miles away from civilization. Additionally, it is revealed that Gretchen and her team has yet another group lined up for their experiments with the implication that one of the previous group members (seemingly implied to be either Shelby or Josh) is still in on the whole thing.
  • The Conspiracy: The entire Eden program the girls and their families thought they were going on was a complete lie, as well as being stuck on a deserted island. The whole thing was a setup by Gretchen and her backers.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Albeit ones that contribute to foreshadowing later events.
    • Lampshaded by Leah how every girl seemed to have a working knowledge of CPR when they need to help Jeanette. It’s a subversion of the trope since the girls were likely selected, amongst many other reasons, based on this since Gretchen doesn’t want any of the girls to die on her watch.
    • Unstated, but it seems odd how none of the girls (barring Jeanette’s ultimately fatal stomach injury and Martha’s sprained ankle from the riptide) seem to have sustained any serious injuries despite surviving a plane crash. Of course, this is a hint that there’s more to the crash than it appears. Episode 7 reveals that the crash was indeed simulated, all the girls were knocked unconscious by gas and were transported to the island by boats, and Jeanette (secretly working with Gretchen) got her injury from an accidental fall off a dock.
    • As mentioned under Deus ex Machina below, Shelby finding several bags full of stuff the group needed is oddly suspicious, as Leah brings up. Of course, we learn that this was done on purpose by Gretchen’s team.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Almost all of the girls confess they'd done this while on the island or sometime past.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Each episode focuses on a different girl's interview post-island, and her life pre-island. Of course, there are two girls we have yet to actually see post-island, leaving their fates unclear.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much all the girls have their moments, but particularly Toni, Dot, and Fatin. The boys are no slouches in this category either.
  • Deserted Island: The setting of the series; the exact location is unclear.
  • Deus ex Machina: Said word for word by Leah when she questions why it is that Shelby seems to find so many washed up bags containing things they need.
  • Disposable Pilot: The plane’s pilot Michael Crane. However, since the plane crash was staged, this man likely never existed.
  • Does Not Like Men: Jeanette asks Gretchen, a feminist scholar, whether she hates men, and Gretchen says no, that in fact she's loved many. However Jeanette replies that she does hate them, due to being sexually assaulted by two men.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Averted. When Josh reveals to Kirin that Seth sexually assaulted him, Kirin is horrified and threatens to kill Seth then and there. The rest of the group is similarly horrified when they learn of the news, though some such as Raf (who views Seth as his closest ally) and Henry (Seth’s stepbrother), initially find it hard to believe that Seth would do something like that because of their previous relationship with Seth rather than the fact that a boy was assaulted by another boy. Heartbreakingly, Josh himself initially tries to minimize the rape by blaming himself, a common trait amongst victims of sexual abuse, but this proves to be damaging to his emotional state.
  • Due to the Dead: After they believe Nora's dead, the other girls all hold a funeral, with Toni performing an Ojibwe ritual for the dead to let her soul pass.
  • Ensemble Cast: Although Leah arguably has the most focus out of the girls, they are all a true ensemble at least in the island part of the timeline.
  • Fake American: In-universe. American Jeanette Dao turns out to be the Australian Linh Bach.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: We see one of Nora and Quinn, her boyfriend, in her flashbacks. First having a Meet Cute, awkwardly flirting, doing things together before they start to date and lose their virginities with each other.
  • Fish out of Water: The girls being stranded on a deserted island definitely counts.
  • Flashback: Each episode shows flashbacks of one of the girls' lives before she ended up on the island.
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: Episode 6 has almost all the girls succumb to food poisoning from eating shellfish, with the exception of Shelby, who claims to be allergic. Toni and Martha nearly die as a result.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Leah, one of the castaways, survived and was rescued from the island with flashforwards showing the aftermath and federal investigation into the crash. Throughout the season, we also learn that Rachel, Dot, Toni, Fatin, and Shelby make it off the island alive, with Nora and Martha's fates remaining unknown until the second season (they’re both alive, though the group assumes Nora is a case of Never Found the Body).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Four words: "Shark week for Rachel."
    • In episode 4, Shelby performs a monologue from Death of a Salesman, which she initially interprets as Biff calling out his boss. Then Nora points out the monologue is actually about him not wanting to live for his father anymore and wanting to live his own life. This foreshadows Shelby’s own internal conflict with being the perfect daughter to her father, at the expense of living freely and authentically as an out lesbian.
    • "Blame me, for fuck’s sake! I’m the reason we’re here!" said by Nora, who in fact is the reason they’re there, as she is The Mole.
    • Even prior to the Belligerent Sexual Tension becoming obvious, Shelby can be seen to flirt with Toni sometimes (albeit not consciously as she's still very repressed) acting more touchy-feely than she does with any other girl. In retrospect, it's clear that she found Toni attractive to begin with.
  • Game Changer: Episode 6, where the audience finds out that the "agents" are actually working with Gretchen, and the post-island interviews are all still part of the experiment.
  • Gayngst-Induced Suicide: Shelby's friend/love interest Becca's suicide seems to have resulted in part from her anxiety over their shared attraction after Shelby had rejected her.
  • Groin Attack: Rachel knees Nora in the pussy during their fight.
  • Hallucinations: Leah experiences a series of lengthy hallucinations featuring musician Ben Fold, who encourages her.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Dave Goodkind, Shelby's father, a vocally homophobic man who helps send gay teenagers to conversion therapy and implicitly threatens his own daughter with the same treatment.
    Dave: (to Shelby) I don't hate anyone. And I pray for everyone. Even if they don't deserve it.
    • Jeffrey Galanis-an author who was grooming Leah and gets angry when he finds out it worked all too well causing her to lie about turning 18 earlier than she actually was. When he has sex with her and finds out she’s still 16 he chastises her as if he wasn’t manipulating her. When she calls him from the island he tells her not to call and doesn’t even tell anyone when news breaks that she’s missing.
  • Headbutting Heroes: All of the girls butt heads at some point, but early on it's especially apparent between Toni and Shelby, as well as Leah and Fatin.
  • Hope Spot: At one point, a plane flies over the island that the girls try to flag down; unfortunately, Gretchen makes sure the pilot doesn't talk.
  • Hot-Blooded: Both Toni and Rachel might as well have lava running through their veins as they tend to react to most things with fury.
  • Hypocrite: Gretchen claims to be a feminist, but the entire premise of the series is that she's using the girls as unknowing lab rats. It's basically the opposite of feminist to run an experiment on people without their consent, even if it wasn't also regularly putting them in mortal danger.
    • While preparing a speech, Gretchen gripes about her heels, giving a diatribe about how patriarchy has told women to fit into narrow fashion standards in order to oppress them and the negative effects they have on the body. When asked why she still wears them, Gretchen replies that her legs look good in them.
    • By the end of Season Two, she’s also still choosing to work with Seth, even putting him in a position of control over the two groups, despite knowing that Seth physically abused his ex-girlfriend and sexually assaulted Josh.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Shelby pushes Toni’s buttons by saying some unintentionally offensive things (including asking Martha "How do you say 'thank you' in Native American?"), which drives their conflict for the first half of the season.
  • Internalized Categorism: Toni confesses to Martha that (seemingly due to her parents abandoning her) she doesn't feel worthy of love. Martha, despite having her parents, replies she feels the same.
  • Internal Reveal: In Season 2, Shelby tells Rachel about what happened with Becca and her guilt over it, something the audience saw before.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Martha unknowingly consumes a lot of edibles, leading almost all the other girls to eat some too in solidarity.
  • Island Help Message: One of the girls tries to make one on the island beach, but the black sand makes it difficult to see it even from a distance.
  • Jailbait Wait: The writer Leah develops a crush on drunkenly confesses (knowing she's in high school) that he wants to kiss her, and she tells him she's turning eighteen in two weeks. They meet up and do the deed after waiting. Subverted when it turns out she lied and is still shy of seventeen.
  • Lingerie Scene: Fatin is seen wearing only her underwear in flasbacks after having sex with a guy. Later all the girls are seen stripping down to underwear or in swimsuits when they frolic in the ocean and bathe.
  • Love Confession: Shelby tells Toni she loves her after they start dating. At first Toni is quite anxious over this and doesn't say it back, due to implied fear of abandonment by loved ones (since both her parents were AWOL). She masters her anxiety though and tells Shelby she does love her in turn later.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Mildly butch lesbian Toni and feminine Shelby officially get together in Season 2 once Shelby's admitted her attraction to women.
  • Matriarchy: Gretchen wants to create what she calls a "gynotopia", where women lead instead of men, as she thinks patriarchy is ruining human civilization. She placed the girls on the island to prove they were more capable, with a male control group that would show the opposite.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: Toni (who's Native American) says that as there are several wealthy white girls on the island, a rescue is certain.
  • Never My Fault: Fatin's parents were more angry with her for revealing her dad was cheating than his doing it. She's aghast, clearing feeling like they have this attitude. Her mom says marriages are more than one indiscretion though. It does hurt her business too, and the family's reputation. Even so, she gets all of the blame, though it was bound to get out sooner or later.
  • New Friend Envy: Toni is extremely resentful and jealous of Martha's friendship with Shelby for the first half of the season, the first hint of her abandonment issues.
  • Nobody Poops: Played with. Obviously relieving yourself outdoors is a reality of being castaways but Fatin promises herself she won't shit until they return to civilization. Needless to say, she does not keep this promise.
  • No Control Group: Downplayed. There is a control group in Gretchen's experiment, but they are rather obviously chosen in such a way as to bias the results.
  • Non-Nude Bathing: None of the girls ever fully strip naked while washing off in the ocean, instead stripping to their underwear. Taken to an extreme by Nora, who washes herself while wearing pants and a long-sleave shirt- even conservative Shelby is in a midrift-baring top.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. Fatin mentions wanting to be off the island before she gets her period, and Rachel later gets hers for the first time in 3 years.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Shelby, while comforting Rachel over losing Nora (so she thinks) empathizes with her guilt over this through relating how she lost her friend Becca to suicide, partly blaming herself over it.
  • Older Than They Look: Jeanette/Linh is actually in her twenties.
  • One Head Taller: Toni is the shortest among the island girls. Shelby by contrast is pretty tall. This becomes noticeable after they get involved, and especially while kissing.
  • Pants-Pulling Prank: Seth pulls down Kirk's pants down in front of the others. Kirin laughs it off and returns the favor. Seth is not amused. He later takes out his anger on Josh, for daring to compare himself to Seth.
  • Plot Immunity: Everyone we've seen in a post-island investigation interview at least has to make it off the island alive, even if there are still things that happened to them that the audience doesn't know about.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Rachel and Nora not only look quite distinct, but they have very different personalities. In Rachel's case she's a more outgoing athlete who's extremely focused on that, and seems neurotypical. Nora has social anxiety from implied autism and is a shy, quiet, bookish girl overall.
  • Precautionary Corpse Disposal: The girls bury Jeanette to keep any potential animals away. Of course, Gretchen's team dig her right back up again and take her away, leading to confusion when the girls go to move her further away from their camp and find her body missing...
  • Ragtag Band of Misfits: Deconstructed as the diverse group of girls come from different backgrounds and had little interactions before they ended up on the island. This leads to a number of moments where they clash.
  • Rape as Backstory:
    • Jeannette was sexually assaulted while incapacitated after being drugged.
    • Martha was sexually abused by a doctor who treated her, but at first denies it.
    • In her flashbacks, Becca tells Shelby her stepbrother groomed and abused her.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: At the start of the second season, Devon gives one to his mother Gretchen, saying that even though he will always regret being involved in a Deadly Prank and will acknowledge his own terrible behavior, Gretchen will always be a psychopath who ruined the lives of teenagers for her experiments.
  • Red Herring: Several girls are teased as being the other Operative. Nora is in fact The Mole.
    • Shelby is relentlessly optimistic about their situation, more than once miraculously discovers things that they need (such as Jeanette’s suitcase), and goes off on her own a lot.
    • Dot takes on a leadership role, is said by Gretchen to be her ‘favorite’, is shown asking Gretchen what is expected from her, and even Jeanette suspected Dot of being the other Operative.
    • Fatin is suspiciously cavalier about their situation, goes off on her own a lot, finds the water source unexpectedly, and is shown hiding something that was in her suitcase from the other girls.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Toni and Shelby in episode 10 become a couple. They date in the second season, and although they keep it secret first the rest soon learn.
  • Romance-Inducing Smudge: When Toni and Shelby find the Lychee tree after days of starvation and immediately begin to eat, Toni wipes away some of the fruit from Shelby's cheek, leading to their second kiss, as well as them spending the night together.
  • Sanity Slippage: Out of the girls, Leah and Shelby suffer from this the most.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Gretchen has cameras almost everywhere on the island as part of her experiment.
  • Skewed Priorities: Despite the fact that they and the rest of the girls are starving, and the fact that they've just found food, Toni and Shelby decide their priorities lie in, well, lying with each other, rather than getting the food back to the rest of the group. Their excuse is that they took a wrong turn and decided to camp out overnight instead of risking walking back in the dark.
  • Spanner in the Works: The first episode ends by revealing Jeanette, the girl who dies of complications from the crash, was secretly working for Gretchen. It's openly stated her dying throws many of the plans for the experiment completely off-kilter.
  • Spear Counterpart: “The Twilight of Adam” evidently functions as one to “The Dawn of Eve” as revealed in the first season finale.
  • Straw Feminist:
    • Dot starts out with shades of this, but loosens up as she grows closer to Fatin and the others.
    • Gretchen too, who appears not to see anything wrong with putting nine girls and nine boys through hell to prove a female-centric society is better.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: None of the girls know each other very well and the stress of their situation gets to them more than a few times...
  • Their First Time:
    • Shelby and Toni resolve their sexual tension offscreen by having sex (which is at least Shelby's first).
    • Her flashback has Nora and her boyfriend Quinn decide to lose their virginities together.
  • They Do: After much belligerent sexual tension, Shelby kisses Toni, and then has sex with her offscreen. Later it's shown the pair are a couple.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Leah and Fatin both display this at different times, while going to swim in the former's case or for the latter while having sex (during a flashback).
  • Troubled Teen: All of the girls, which may have factored into the reason why they were chosen for the experiment, due to them or their parents being easier to leverage.
  • Uncertain Doom: While most of the girls are seen in off-island interviews, Nora and Martha are noticeably missing from these scenes. In episode 2, the way Rachel and the “agents” talk about Nora indicates something happened to her, but it’s currently unclear what. Then the second season subverts this by revealing that both are still alive—Nora is revealed to have faked her death with the help of Dawn of Eve and Martha was rescued off the island in a catatonic state.
  • Unwanted Healing: Toni, at one point, would quite literally rather die than let Shelby give her a life-saving pill. Shelby's response? Push Toni down and straddle her so she can force-feed her the pill while keeping their faces very, very close together.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: Almost all of the girls are this, thinking they were going to a long-weekend retreat when in fact they were put on the island as part of Gretchen's experiment to prove the superiority of women over men.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Multiple times in episodes 1, 2 and especially 6.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Jeanette dies in the first episode. Subverted, however, in the reveal that "Jeanette" was working with Gretchen. We get to see more of her and her past in episode 7.
  • We Just Need to Wait for Rescue: A few of the girls are very confident that, given this is the 21st century, rescue will be swift. As it turns out, not so much...
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode Fourteen ends with Seth violently attacking and then sexually assaulting Josh, an event which completely changes the relationships between everyone.
  • Wham Shot:
    • The end of the first episode as Gretchen walks into a control center to view camera footage of the girls on the island, revealing the crash was all planned.
    • The end of the second episode, which reveals that at some point on the island, Rachel loses her right hand.
    • The end of episode 10 where, in the post-island timeline, Leah comes across footage of a control group of boys on another island, called "The Twilight of Adam."
    • In-universe: Leah reading the note given to her by Shelby reading "you were right"
    • In episode 15, after several episodes of being assumed dead due to a case of Never Found the Body, Nora is revealed to still be alive and in custody of the experimentation group.
    • The final scene of Season Two has three of these, in rapid succession. First, after Gretchen assures her cohorts that she now has two Operatives still involved, and the show then cuts to a close up of Shelby Goodkind, implying that Shelby is now working for Gretchen. Second, the group seemingly escapes for the bunker only to see that they’ve been on yet another island the entire time. Third and finally, an offscreen person starts a tape of music that begins playing on speakers next to the group, quickly revealed to be Seth who is visibly reveling in his new position of control over the group now at his mercy.
  • Women Are Wiser: Essentially what Gretchen is trying to prove.

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