10 Shows To Watch if You Love ‘Yellowjackets’
Hell is a teenage girl, remember?
Shows that explore the intricacies of transitioning from girlhood to womanhood are usually dark, especially when they feature women who belong to one or more marginalized groups. Though the word “dark” is usually perceived as negative (try to unpack that on your own), this brand of darkness is very comforting. Yellowjackets‘ first season gave us young women fully losing their shit on screen. (And adult women, for that matter.) Women who don’t have it all together, but also women who don’t exist just to be saved by men. It captured just how messy surviving in this world is for some of us—especially when also grappling with past traumas.
The show wasn’t afraid to show women at their best and worst, and to show women being complicated; being fucked up and kind and scared and brutal and smart and loving—all at once. Yellowjackets refused to put their characters into an easily definable box or category. And that was a breath of fresh air.
Now, have there been many shows that mimic the events of Yellowjackets? Not entirely. But exploring girlhood and/or womanhood through a dark lens? Not unheard of whatsoever. If you love Yellowjackets, chances are there’s a show on this list you’ll also enjoy. Here are 10 shows to watch while you wait for the next season of Yellowjackets.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy, as a show and character, will forever remain iconic. Not only was Buffy the Vampire Slayer monumentally important for horror on TV, but without Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar), pop culture wouldn’t be the same. Forget Joss Whedon, he doesn’t get to define the series (though, of course, separating the creator from the art is a whole other nuanced conversation).
Buffy was truly the evolution of a young girl. Gellar’s hero went through trials and tribulations on both a supernatural and regular-life scale. She was deprived of a proper childhood and experienced coming of age in a different way than her peers. While she is a cis white woman, she wasn’t allowed to kick back or be worried about meaningless shit. And that’s where the darkness comes in. Buffy didn’t get to choose her life as a slayer. She witnessed death, died more than once, experienced multiple forms of violence, and yet she still grew into a brave and strong adult. She’s a personal hero of mine, honestly.
Content warning: Self-harm
Talk about shows with a really dark tone. If a cake could be awarded to such shows, Sharp Objects would get a HUGE slice. When you have dysfunctional teenage girls and women at the forefront, it’s bound to get very dark, especially when your source material comes from Gillian Flynn. Camille (Amy Adams) is the obvious point of discussion for this series. Camille is a journalist who goes back home to investigate disturbing crimes, only to have past trauma and ugly memories flood back in. She struggles with alcohol addiction, self-harm, and has extreme issues with intimacy—mainly due to her mother. But when talking about girlhood, Amma (Eliza Scanlen) is also important. Sharp Objects plays games with your head and the revelations that are uncovered are twisted. It’s tough to watch at times but will draw you in.
A show that revolves around the lives of cheerleaders and their chaotic new cheer coach? How dark can that possibly get? The answer is very. Much like the drama in Yellowjackets regarding competition among their own teammates, Dare Me—based on the novel by Megan Abbott—goes a step further and shows just how capable these young women are of destroying each other. The complex relationship between Beth (Marlo Kelly) and Addy (Herizen F. Guardiola) taps into something that many people have experienced—how feelings can develop for your best friend and the complications that follow (of course, that relationship has other issues, as well). This show touches base on so many situations that plague teenage girls.
Content warning: Mentions of intimate partner violence
Netflix’s The Society may not have been a perfect show, but the short-lived series was pretty unique. A bunch of teenagers being left to form their own rules and come together as a group is a recipe for disaster (especially for the more vulnerable among them), and an opportunity for those who thrive on chaos. The focus isn’t solely on teen girls for this series, however some of the storylines highlight the troubles that young women might face in that scenario. There are also realistic scenes of intimate partner violence involving one of the girls, which are hard to watch.
Teen dramas can sometimes be a bit much, and not always in an interesting way. In the case of Grand Army, it’s interesting because of its realism. The teens in Grand Army are grappling with identity, racism, sexual violence, and myriad other issues. It’s uncomfortable to see the characters unravel the way they do and the performances are very on-point. Sure, it’s not a mesh of genres like Yellowjackets, but it’s dark and goes to some disturbing places.
Little Fires Everywhere
It’s not an exaggeration when I say that Kerry Washington killed it in Little Fires Everywhere, the Hulu series based on Celeste Ng’s novel of the same name. Yes, Reese Witherspoon’s performance was also great, as were many of their co-stars. However, there’s something about Washington’s intensity that makes the show so memorable. The series explores the complicated nature of Blackness, Black womanhood, queerness, suburban privileges, white women and their privileges, and other topics that are very real. It’s not a series for anyone who dislikes drama. Personally, I would recommend this to someone looking for a show more grounded in reality.
If you’re looking for another mystery-drama about stranded teenage girls, then look no further than The Wilds. Season 1 was perfect (no point revisiting the mistakes of season 2) and intensely explored the lives of every single one of the girls. Their individual issues (on and off the island) contribute to the dynamics of the group in crisis. Each girl having different struggles (notably, five of the girls are POC) added more diversity to the story. And the first season had barely any men in it—which, honestly, is a delight.
Content warning: Grooming
If you love a dark mystery (that’s why you’re here, yes?), the one in Cruel Summer is so twisted and horrible. Without spoiling anything, the girls and women in this show (which is set across two timelines) are all tortured by secrets and lies. They’re confronted by regrets and past choices, and Cruel Summer actually captures the insidious nature of how we, as a society, treat teenage girls—constantly telling them that they should be mature and “grown-up,” equating appearance with value, and sexualizing them—and how predators tap into this to take advantage of them. The show is consistent in its dark tone and, though upsetting at times, really great.
I’ve never personally seen Panic and I’m not entirely sure if it’s a show I’d be able to get into. But from what I can tell, the series—based on the Lauren Oliver novel of the same name—belongs on this list. Panic follows a group of teens trying to escape their circumstances by risking their lives for a cash prize. That sounds like a pretty intense time for a teen drama! It’s an Amazon Prime Original, so you should go into it with lower expectations and maybe just enjoy it for Olivia Scott Welch.
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
Content warning: Mention of sexual violence
I’ve written about this show so many times and there should be no question why it’s on this list. Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin is everything my horror-loving heart could ask for: a slasher series that’s set in the universe of Pretty Little Liars and isn’t problematic like the original series. The topics tackled in this popular sequel series are teen pregnancy, sexual violence, and bullying, among others. It’s relatively dark like Yellowjackets and has a fair amount of camp. The members of the core Gen Z friend group come across as real friends, something that’s not as common as it should be.
(featured image: Showtime)
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