Ten days ago, I hadn’t seen a single episode of Yellowjackets. Ten days (and 10 episodes, including this Sunday’s excellent finale) later, I am all caught up, and it’s the only thing I want to talk about. I’m not the only one: Yellowjackets has become a word-of-mouth sensation for Showtime. It’s not bringing in the same number of viewers as Dexter, but did you know the Dexter finale was last week? There’s a good chance you didn’t (although you can read about it here — it’s better than the OG finale!). Meanwhile, Yellowjackets is all over Twitter, and Tumblr, and Reddit; there’s even a “which character are you?” BuzzFeed quiz, the true sign of a show’s success.
Since binging Yellowjackets, I’ve had multiple people ask me if they would like it, maybe more than any other show in recent memory. If you’re wondering the same thing, these 10 questions should help you decide whether to make it your next TV obsession.
(There will be some light spoilers, but I won’t discuss the juiciest details.)
1. “Should I watch Yellowjackets if… wait, what is Yellowjackets about?”
This is a good place to start. Yellowjackets takes place in 1996 and 2021. The 1996 section follows the members of a high school girl’s soccer team who get stranded in the woods when their plane crashes on the way to nationals. The show doesn’t specify exactly where they crash, but it’s somewhere in Canada. The 2021 portion of the show follows the survivors as adults, although not everyone makes it out of the woods.
2. “Should I watch Yellowjackets if I can’t handle gore?”
Yes, although, fair warning, it is extremely violent. Within the first two minutes of the premiere, you see someone get impaled by spikes in a pit. There’s also cannibalism, a bone poking through someone’s flesh, and so much blood. The violence can be upsetting, but it’s not exploitative; not under the guiding eyes of creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson and Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama, who helms the pilot.
3. Should I watch Yellowjackets if I’m trying to fill the Lost-shaped hole in my heart?”
Yes, because say what you will about the finale (I certainly have!), Lost is still one of the most compelling, exciting, and deeply weird shows to air on TV. It didn’t invent modern-day fandom, but it changed the way people engaged with shows, where every small detail, every twist and turn, was discussed among strangers on the internet; I’m still not sure whether I’m disappointed or relieved that it came out before Reddit culture was a thing. Yellowjackets isn’t a Lost clone, even with the plane crash and time-hopping framing, but it scratches the same fan theory itch. There are thousands of tweets and Reddit thread comments about the identity of the Antler Queen (a fan term that has become canon), an impressive achievement for a show that premiered two months ago.
Yellowjackets also smartly understands that for these kind of mystery shows with supernatural elements to work, they need memorable characters who are more than plot devices. As horror maestro Stephen King put it, “YELLOWJACKETS is a hell of a good survival story, a hell of a good mystery story, and has its fair share of horrifying moments. What it’s also got — so many current shows don’t — is sharp characterization and a mordant sense of humor.” That’s why generic Lost knock-offs like The Event and Flash Forward failed, and Yellowjackets is thriving.
It’s also worth mentioning that the creators have a multi-season plan. “When we were formulating and developing the idea, we always saw this as a multi-season story and our goal in the first season is to very much answer certain questions, because I personally get very irritated with shows that drag everything on forever and don’t give you any answers,” Lyle told E! Online. “So, we wanted to answers some questions and ask some new ones, so that is hopefully what we accomplished over the course of this season.”
4. “Should I watch Yellowjackets if I’m looking for a show with a dance sequence set to ‘This Is How We Do It’ by Montell Jordan?”
Yes, and buddy, you’re in for a treat. Other artists on the extremely mid-1990s soundtrack: Liz Phair, PJ Harvey, Belly, Collective Soul, Mazzy Star, the Prodigy, the Smashing Pumpkins, Hole, Salt-N-Pepa, Portishead, the Cranberries, Dinosaur Jr., and “Mr. Mistoffelees” from Cats (not the one with Taylor Swift). It’s an eclectic mix.
5. “Should I watch Yellowjackets if I like free trials?”
Yes, because Showtime offers a 30-day free trial. (This is not a paid promotion. I just like free stuff.) It will not take you 30 days to watch Yellowjackets. You will be tempted to watch the whole thing in a day (never skip the theme song), but I would suggest stretching it over a week. Maybe two episodes a night. And definitely don’t watch if you’re eating steak. Or chicken. Or any meat, really. Once you’re caught up, you’ll have time to watch other Showtime shows before the trial runs out.
And that gives me time to finish writing, “Everyone Won’t Shut Up About Californication, But Is It For You?” Finger on the pulse over here.
6. “Should I watch Yellowjackets if I’m sick of comparing myself and other people to Sex and the City characters?”
Yes, because “you’re such a Carrie” is out and “you’re such a Laura Lee” is in.
One tweet that I think about a lot is: “Part of the appeal of Succession is doing the math on which character you’d become if you gave your personality disorder a billion dollars.” The same goes for Yellowjackets, except instead of money, it’s stranding your personality disorder in the middle of the woods. Are you a love sick lone wolf? You’re Nat. Did you peak in high school? You’re Jackie. Do you still think the “sweet-ass butt cut” is a good look? I’m sorry, but you’re a Travis. Do you have upsetting premonitions? You’re Lottie. Also, you may want to seek some professional help.
7. “Should I watch Yellowjackets if there’s no book club?”
8. Should I watch Yellowjackets if my favorite movie is Addams Family Values?”
Yes, and it’s time for Christina Ricci to get the Emmys recognition she deserves. The Casper actress gives a delightfully unhinged performance as the grown-up version of the show’s most Ma-like character, Misty. She’s as smart as she is scary, and Ricci plays Misty as a chipper-but-dangerous weirdo with a pet bird named Caligula. Never trust anyone with a pet bird named Caligula — or maybe anyone with a pet bird, period.
The rest of the adult cast includes Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures), Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers), and Tawny Cypress (Heroes), while you may have seen the younger Yellowjackets in The Kid Detective (Sophie Nélisse, young Shauna), The Leftovers and Scream (Jasmin Savoy Brown, young Taissa), and The Book of Boba Fett (Sophie Thatcher, young Nat). Also, Lottie is played by Courtney Eaton, who was also one of Immortan Joe’s wives in Mad Max: Fury Road, along with Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Abbey Lee, Riley Keough, and Zoë Kravitz. The wives rule Hollywood.
9. “Should I watch Yellowjackets if I love horror movies, teen dramas, mysteries, survival thrillers, suspense, chaos, soccer, wolves, blackmail, While You Were Sleeping, Canada, orgies, drugs, eating dirt, and/or cult rituals?”
10. “Should I watch Yellowjackets…?”
That’s enough questions. Yes, for the love of god, watch Yellowjackets. You can start now.