the wilds tv amazon prime women
Image: YouTube | Amazon Prime Video.
Entertainment, Opinion

Queerness, survival, and struggle: The Wilds

Amid endless television centring men, rare are shows like The Wilds that form their own identity and present real stories about diverse women.

Content that focuses on survival typically centres men, includes at least one straight white man trying to play hero, and or presents women as meek. 

What’s brilliant about this adventure drama is that every girl comes from a different background, allowing for conversations about intersections like race and sexual identity. 

Viewers should be hesitant with anything that could be labelled as feminist or empowering for women – telling stories from the perspectives of white cishet women isn’t revolutionary anymore. It never should have been. 

Long gone should be the days where white women were the faces of feminism, and thankfully, The Wilds reflects that. 

(Spoilers and potentially triggering material ahead.)

A group of teenage girls survive a plane crash while on en route to the Dawn of Eve young women’s empowerment retreat, but something deceptive is going on. 

It’s revealed early that they are enduring a social experiment and being watched at all times, with some of the survivors even being moles for the Dawn of Eve program. 

The purpose of the program is to allow young women to thrive and be free, which is exactly what some of the survivors take advantage of. 

Each of the girls have their own pasts and struggles. 

From fan perspectives, most if not all the girls can be seen as queer, though the only confirmed queer characters are Toni Shalifoe (Erana James) and Shelby Goodkind (Mia Healey), who end up in what is assumed a relationship.

Shelby is a Texan pageant queen from a conservative Christian family, not a unique story because many queer folks grow up in religious environments. 

She’s unfortunately unable to be herself, especially when her father actively does conversation therapy for kids in their community. 

Shelby’s world eventually comes tumbling down when she impulsively kisses her friend, Becca (Stefania LaVie Owen). 

After Shelby’s parents find out, she feels frightened and tells Becca to stay away from her. 

Later, she hears of Becca’s suicide, leaving Shelby internally distraught and ashamed. 

Toni’s story isn’t as typical and has a different tragic tone; she doesn’t come from a wealthy family and is in the foster system. 

Her anger issues are no mystery prior to learning more about her past, but to see the levels to which she sabotages her life and relationships because of her anger is awful. 

It’s clear Toni never had a chance given her unfortunate family situation, though her being a queer person of colour doesn’t help either. 

During the flashbacks to her life prior to the island, it’s revealed she had a relationship with a girl named Regan (Bella Shepard) until her anger issues drove Regan to gently break up with her. 

The girls’ struggles are not similar whatsoever, yet somehow, they are drawn together after a lot of tension between them. 

Shelby finally embraces being queer and forgetting the pain she experienced at home, and Toni lets herself get close to another person after Regan, their individual trauma finally not holding them back from leading different lives. 

Being forced to survive on an island is traumatic, but being there allows each of the girls to experience their feelings (negative, positive, or in between) without distraction and, more importantly, without the world weighing down on them. 

The Wilds is worth the hype and has the bonus of queer representation that’s not problematic. 

Season one is available on Amazon Prime.

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