Here's yet another entry to add to the ever-growing list of canceled TV shows. According to a report from Deadline (opens in new tab), young adult survival drama The Wilds has been axed after its second season.
The show was part of Amazon’s expansion in the young adult genre, which also included the likes of The Summer I Turned Pretty and Invincible. The Wilds was the first of these shows to get a second season, which debuted on May 6, and now it’s become the first to be canceled.
There's no word from Deadline as to why it might have been killed off, but it clearly wasn't due to poor reviews: it was well received by audiences and critics alike, to the extent that it has an 88% score on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab).
What is The Wilds about?
The Wilds follows a group of eight teenage girls, all from different backgrounds, as their plane crash lands in the ocean on their way to a young women’s empowerment retreat called Dawn of Eve. Finding themselves stranded on a desert island, the girls have to figure out how to survive as castaways.
The twist is that the whole ordeal has been staged by Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths), the head of the Dawn of Eve program. So rather than being stranded, the girls are actually part of an elaborate social experiment. The first season is intertwined with flashbacks exploring the characters' lives before the crash, and flashforwards that see the girls interrogated by federal agents after their apparent rescue.
The second season throws a spanner into the works, with a second staged plane crash — this time introducing eight teenage boys to the Island.
It all sounds very ‘Lost’ to me, albeit with a group of teenage girls and none of the supernatural elements that confused so many people in that show. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if early fan theories claimed the Lost cast were all part of a similar social experiment.
The show has also drawn comparisons to Showtime’s Yellowjackets, which features a similar premise of teenage girls stranded in the wilderness struggling to survive.
What do critics think of The Wilds?
The Wilds currently holds an 88% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab), with an 83% audience score. However, season 1 was better received than season 2, with an average score of 92% compared to 85% for the latter. That said, 85% is far from bad, and it's still enough to gain S2 a "Certified Fresh” rating. Over on IMDb, The Wilds holds a score of 7.2 out of 10, based on 20K ratings.
Of the second season, Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com (opens in new tab) wrote that “There’s still enough to like here, but the parallels to Lost are strangely more prominent than ever.” The Wrap’s Karama Horne (opens in new tab), meanwhile, called it “an intense but enjoyable watch that feels crowded at times with eight new characters.“
AV Club’s Laura Chval (opens in new tab)gave the season a B-, praising the returning cast. “The women of The Wilds are still intriguing, dynamic, frustrating, and accessible. The bad news is we get way less time with them.”
Kristen Baldwin of Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab) praised the addition of new characters, and gave a score of B+. “Dropping eight new characters into an already sprawling ensemble is a bold move, but just as it did in season 1, 'The Wilds' draws multiple narrative threads into a taut and twisty rope that pulls viewers along.”
Of course, not all critics were overtly positive. Daniel Hart of Ready Steady Cut (opens in new tab) gave the season 2/5, saying that “the introduction of the boys is a failed experiment, and unfortunately, apart from a few good moments and an interesting finale, season 2 is a wasted continuation that offers very little.”
Meanwhile Chase Hutchinson of Collider (opens in new tab) gave season 2 a D rating, noting that “starting from scratch with a whole new group of characters, The Wilds bifurcates its focus and renders everything more shallow as a result.”
Bottom line: Should you watch The Wilds?
It’s difficult to invest in a canceled show, because you know it’s likely going to end without any sort of satisfying conclusion. That said, 18 episodes isn’t a particularly big investment, and The Wilds could be an option if you can’t find anything else to watch.
The parallels to Lost are pretty apparent, so if you like that sort of concept (and young adult drama) then The Wilds should be on your watch list. If you don’t like either, then this is definitely one to avoid. Personally, I’d watch it just to see how easily the two groups of teenagers descend into a Lord of the Flies-type situation.
Next: Check out the best new shows and movies to watch this weekend on Netflix, HBO Max and more. But also pour one out for Gordita Chronicles as HBO has canceled it after only one month.