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Yellowjackets’ Popularity Is So Exciting, on So Many Levels

Four women stand side by side posing for a camera, wearing fancy dresses, in a scene from Yellowjackets

Now that Yellowjackets has wrapped its first season, Showtime has been sharing some of its ratings numbers for the show and they are out of this world.

To start, S1 of Yellowjackets was the network’s most-watched freshman season of television in nearly six years, since Billions premiered in 2016. It was also Showtime’s second-most streamed series, behind last year’s Dexter: New Blood—an especially impressive feat given that Yellowjackets didn’t have eight seasons of lore and a nearly decade-long buildup leading up to its release.

In that same vein, Yellowjackets premiered strong and its ratings only continued to climb as word of mouth praising the series took off—to the point that its finale, which aired a week after Dexter’s finale and was, therefore, the only episode not to have its massively beneficial Dexter lead-in, came in just barely shy of the previous week’s ratings (1.3 million vs 1.4 million, according to Deadline).

Yellowjackets’ popularity is so exciting, on so many different levels. This is the kind of show that was always going to be a critical darling (it’s sitting at a sweet 100% on Rotten Tomatoes) but it seemed more likely to be a slow burn cult favorite than a freshman season phenomenon.

As Showtime Networks president of entertainment Gary Levine told Vulture in a recent interview: “In the past, we have sometimes rationalized keeping a show because it had buzz even if it didn’t have numbers. The beauty of Yellowjackets is, Yellowjackets has numbers.”

According to Showtime, those numbers are also skewing younger and more female than it sees on average, and it’s always exciting to see that sort of audience driving trends.

Also, we as audiences are constantly saying we want more original content, and yet numbers-wise, it’s clear that will more consistently flock to blockbusters than to scrappy indies. And that’s not a judgment! There’s a whole host of reasons for that, from a lack of availability to our own apathy to the fact that a comic book movie is both super enjoyable and far less of an emotional investment than, say, an A24 indie. And in recent years, we’ve all had to be rightfully frugal with our emotional currency.

That’s all just to say that it’s really satisfying to see so many people resonate so deeply with an original women-led series.

Also exciting? The fact that these ratings all but guarantee more of this show and more like it. Yellowjackets has already been renewed for a second season but the writers have said that there is ultimately a five-season plan for the show. I honestly have no idea how to even begin to comprehend that idea but the extreme success of the first season means they might have decent shot at seeing that out, and that’s absolutely worth celebrating.

(via Deadline, Vulture, image: Kailey Schwerman/Showtime)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.