Yellowjackets - tv series about surviving high school girls

Yellowjackets is a kind of remix of Lost and Lord of the Flies with Desperate Housewives. Storitelling the Yellowjackets.
One of Showtime's most poignant and thrilling series is Yellowjackets. What happens when you take a teenage female sports team and stick them on a desert island? What happens when you combine "Lost" "Lord of the Flies" and "Desperate Housewives"? All of these questions are answered in this dramatic thriller series.

"Yellowjackets" tells the story of a team of talented teenage female football players from Wiskayok High School. In 1996, the team travels to Seattle for national competition as champions of their home state of New Jersey. Although on the surface they appear to be a close-knit team, tensions are simmering and just waiting for the right spark to rise to the surface.
The team ends up getting that spark and more when the private plane they were flying to a national competition crashes in the dangerous wilds of Canada. At first they wait for rescue, but it doesn't come, and they end up having to scrounge for food and come up with survival options, and those who survive end up spending a total of 19 months in the woods before help arrives.

There is a second line here as well:

In 2021, 25 years after the disaster, the survivors are doing their best to move on with their lives, weighed down by their experiences in the forest. But the past doesn't leave the heroines, and several members of the team start receiving threatening notes.

The series is advertised as a mixture of different genres. These include survival horror, psychological horror, teen sports drama, adult drama, thriller, mystery and even dark comedy. As the series progresses, folk-horror is also added to the series. This technique is called genre mashup.

So far 2 seasons have been filmed and the first one is absolutely amazing, it has great pacing, tension and plot. The second one, unfortunately, is a bit weak, so we will only talk about the first one.

The main intrigue that keeps us in suspense is the constant question of what happened there, in the forests of Canada, that everyone wants to find out about, but the main characters do not tell. The very beginning of the series shows us cannibalism, which is severely frowned upon by society and the law, and literally every episode hints at the fact that one day it will all come to this.

All the characters are very ambiguous - there are no right and wrong girls here, they all do both good and bad things. This is one of the key features of modern TV series, but it is also what makes the series richer in interesting plot twists.
Of course, the series is built on the charisma of the main characters - team captain Jackie, her best friend Shawna, ambitious coloured Taissa, weird and creepy Misty, gloomy goth Natalie, rich and superstitious Lottie, a little boyish Vanessa, orthodox Laura Lee and other heroines. Interestingly, some of the girls aren't even shown or named - there are 16 members of the team and we don't see a good half of them, they're either called Yellowjacket #1 and Yellowjacket #2 or transformed in season two. YJ #1 becomes Jenna and YJ #2 becomes two characters, Melissa and Crystal. Aquilla and Marie also make their way from minor characters into the main cast.

So, what's so interesting about this series in terms of storytelling and screenwriting? Let's find out!
Beware of Spoilers!

Although, some of the events are not spoilers at all, but instead clues that help us understand what happened. For example, we know for sure that Shauna, Natalie, Taissa and Misty survived in the woods because they are in the second, "adult" timeline.

Jackie, on the other hand, is absolutely definitely dead, because it's highlighted many times. And Shauna's daughter Kelly is a schoolgirl, clearly under 25, which means something happened to the baby that Shauna was pregnant with at the time of the crash.
So what happens when teenage schoolgirls find themselves in the woods, outside of civilisation?
They will be deprived not only of shopping malls and the usual benefits of civilisation, but also of the conventions that society used to bind them with. This means that very different qualities will become important and significant, not like in real life. If in school soft-skills, the ability to negotiate and leadership skills were in demand, then in survival it is much more valuable to be able to build a fire, shoot and cut dinner. What is bad at school and considered a sign of a "gone" psyche, becomes good here, and can even save a life, such as visions.

And we see this contrast very much in Jackie and Lottie.

Jackie is the captain of the team, the leader, the most popular girl of the school, who has her own opinion on everything, but at the same time she is a very good and kind person. But after the crash, in the woods, she finds herself completely unsuited to this primitive life - she doesn't learn to survive, tries to cling to the past ("Don't walk away from the plane") and clashes with the whole team. Jackie's qualities are no longer needed by society, and she is not malleable enough to acquire new ones.

That's why Jackie is still wearing make-up and looking cleaner than everyone else to the last, even when the girls have stopped looking after themselves - she's trying to maintain the usual order of things, where she's in demand, where she's the queen, the Queen Bee (Like Regina in Mean Girls).
Jackie (and she wasn't the only one) failed to foresee the deadly cold snap coming when she chose to sleep outside rather than ask to be allowed back into the cabin. No one seems to have realised the seriousness of the consequences. However, the fact that Jackie had been refusing food and crossing items off her to-do list for the past few days suggests that she had given up hope of surviving, so perhaps the risk of freezing to death did cross her mind, but she just didn't give it much thought. She may have fallen into depression and even thought about suicide. In this way, her fall is presented even more vividly.
Lottie, on the contrary, starts out as the quiet daughter of rich parents with schizophrenia (as we can tell from her pills). This includes her aggressively reminding Travis of his nickname, for example, which doesn't sit well with her subsequent image, and so could be a consequence of the drugs she's taking. So, once she stops taking the pills, she starts having visions, which she begins to interpret. An animated forest appears, there is talk of sacrifice, and the girls are divided into two camps - believers and sceptics appear. Eventually, all this develops into a real cult, with its symbolism, rituals and other components.

Why do they need a cult?
Because people in such a situation need something to believe in. Looking at the wildness of the girls and how their minds are losing their habitual dogmas, giving way to primitive habits, it becomes clear why our ancestors believed in pagan gods and made offerings to them. This is an attempt to somehow control the nature around them and their own lives.

Among other things, the series shows that in order to resort to cannibalism, there must be a change of psyche, a change of consciousness. Man goes to the extreme, and only then does he fall to the bottom. He tries to survive - it is a basic instinct.
Including in the psyche, substitution occurs to cope with the all too brutal truth. When the hungry teens decide to eat Jackie, they imagine themselves as part of a Bacchic feast to deal with the trauma of what they're doing. In the present timeline, Shauna believes that the entire Wilderness cult was just that: they pretended to serve and appease a deity so they could then blame their cannibalism on something else. They justified themselves by saying that something had possessed them, but was that really the case?
"There is no it, okay?! It was just us!"
The series is based on a true story when a team of boy athletes were flying to a competition and crashed in the Andes. There they also ate each other, or rather, their frozen comrades. The Hornets reveals the psychological motivations behind these actions.
What storytelling techniques and screenwriting tricks are used to reveal the heroines better?
Meaningful Name: The Yellowjackets are named after a wasp. These wasps are aggressive if threatened. Each one is capable of stinging several times (honeybees sting only once). And they don't need to be provoked. This description can be a great personification of a team. They even buzz when they run to be more wasp-like.
The main characters are introduced to us through very eloquent scenes:
- Adult Shauna is first shown masturbating to a photograph of her teenage daughter Callie's boyfriend in Callie's bedroom, identifying how disillusioned and stuck in the past she is.

- The coach tells Jackie that she has influence over the team, and she later uses that influence to stop a fight and get her teammates to solve problems, which shows her good character and leadership.

- Taissa offers to "eliminate" the underperforming team member, demonstrating her ruthlessness.

- Natalie is shown drinking and throwing bottles at cars, yet she is the only one who is genuinely opposed to Allie's "elimination" and stands up for her, creating the image of a rude troublemaker who nevertheless has a good heart.

- When Allie is injured, Misty is the first to arrive on the scene and attempts to administer first aid, thus demonstrating her desire to be helpful and her interest in medicine. In doing so, Misty hurts Allie, demonstrating that she cares more about being a hero than actually helping.
Each of the girls in the adult timeline has a different "animal" motif, a particular animal that is constantly repeated in her arch.
- Misty: cats. In the past, she wore a hoodie with an adorable kitten on the front. In the present, for Halloween she wears scrubs with a cat print top and cat-themed accessories (cat ears and tail) - she loves cats.

- Taissa: Wolves. She makes shadow theatre for Sammy, but one of the figures turns into a realistic silhouette of a wolf. Then, at a party where she hopes to meet donors, she sees a wolf roaming the mansion. Later, she sees a wolf outside her own house, and when she goes to investigate, she discovers the word "SPILL" written in red paint on the door. The savage wolves show up later when they attack Van.

- Shauna: Rabbits. We see her collection of rabbit figurines in her kitchen, and she also wears rabbit-patterned pyjamas. But we also see what she does about the rabbits threatening her garden. Rabbits are often associated with sex. On the surface, Shauna looks like a shy athlete (1996) or suburban housewife (2021), but when we remember that she was the one who had sex with her best friend's boyfriend in high school, it becomes clear that all modesty is ostentatious, and this is exactly the kind of quiet maelstrom that attracts devils.

- Lottie has the motif of deer. She has visions of deer, is framed by antlers in her cabin, and becomes a cult medium, wearing a pair of antlers and a veil.
Also the treatment of the animals characterises the girls and gives hints to their behaviour after the crash:

- Misty calmly watching a rat drown before the plane has even taken off is an early indicator of her low empathy and willingness to resort to violence.
- In the present, Shauna beats a rabbit to death with a shovel and nonchalantly butchers it, reminiscent of the first scene where several Hornets kill, cook and eat one of their own. Perhaps this is an aberration.
- Biscuit, the Abara-Turner family's dog, goes missing and his head ends up on Tyssa's altar in the first season finale.

There's this trope - "Cheated death, but died anyway". That is, Laura Lee, Jackie, Crystal, and Javi survived a plane crash only to die afterwards.
The appearance of the girls as a characterisation of their characters is also important
Hornets don't look particularly dishevelled after weeks of living in the wilderness with very limited food. Apart from dirty hair and armpit hair, they all look like they've just spent a few days camping. Coach is suddenly the most glaring example. Despite his severe injury, he looks about the same as he did in high school. This is done to make it more enjoyable for us as viewers to watch the show.

Note that pairs of girls who are friends have contrasting hair:

- Pampered Jackie is blonde, while her best friend, the sullen and secretive Shona, has dark hair.

- Adult Misty is enthusiastic and creepy, with light grey curly hair, while sullen adult Natalie has long dark hair.

- Lottie is close friends with Laura Lee. Laura Lee has blonde hair, reflecting her angelic purity, while Lottie has dark hair and is more introverted and insecure.

After getting stuck in the woods with her teammates, Taissa ends up cutting her hair short to make it more manageable, since she can't wash it and had previously kept it under a scarf.

It shows that she has accepted the situation they are in and is ready to change something (otherwise she always has long hair). It is Taissa who becomes the real leader of the survivors.

Natalie has dark hair, favours dark clothing, and enjoys a more traditional rebellious culture. However, she is also presented as the more moral of the survivors, the most proactive and tough. She is rarely seen without heavy, sloppy eyeliner, while all other Hornets favour light make-up (or no make-up at all).
Even as a teenager, she has a low and husky voice. Natalie is a trope of tomboy, more boyish, she even befriends boys more. But at the same time, she is the kindest and most human inside, and because she is so tough, it makes for a very interesting contrast. It's very ironic that Natalie, a long-time drug addict, dies from an accidental lethal injection.
In part of 2021, Shauna has recovered but is still considered attractive enough for Adam to have an affair with her. Jeff also genuinely loves her and hasn't cheated on her. Melanie Lynskey even turned down a TV offer to lose weight to show that a larger woman can still be considered desirable. And it's great that more and more stories are showing desirable plus size women!

Shauna cares very little about anyone's feelings but her own. When she is confronted about sleeping with her best friend's boyfriend, she replies that it was Jackie's own fault and makes her look bad in the situation.

She is also willing to let an innocent 12-year-old child drown, manipulates her own daughter into keeping secret an affair she started only to spite her husband when she believed he was cheating on her. She has no qualms about killing an innocent man and has no problem dragging her husband and daughter into her misadventures.
Lottie is the most ambiguous character. In fact, she is the big bad in the story, the big evil that brings all the trouble.

These days, she still runs a cult, but it seems to be relatively peaceful rather than murderous, until Travis dies and she relapses, convinced that "it" has come back for them and they need to appease it with another human sacrifice. The adult Lottie (Charlotte) is almost always dressed in long, flowing silk dresses, usually kimono style, when she is in her commune. The fact that she dresses more simply when she is not there indicates that she is still playing a role.
She bears a striking resemblance to Simon, the epileptic seer from Lord of the Flies, though his quasi-religious experiences work against the emerging cult rather than create it. Simon is closest to the Big Good, while Lottie is implied as the Big Bad, and has elements of not only Simon but also Jack as the leader of the assassins.

Interestingly, in 1996 Lottie was only called by her nickname, but these days she's only called by her full name, Charlotte.
And Misty. If you too were wondering how she even ended up on the team in the first place, the answer is that she was the equipment manager for the Hornets team.

Misty tends to dress more conservatively and look older than her age, both as a teenager and as an adult, which is in stark contrast to the other survivors who have a more casual style of dress.

Christina Ricci is very attractive, so Misty's unflattering wardrobe and hairstyle are used to hide her looks and combined with her repulsive character to explain her difficulty in finding partners. Same with Samantha Hanratty as teenage Misty, who wears braces when portraying 13-year-old Misty in the flashback.

Misty and Natalie are among the most capable survivors in the woods, have romantic desires for a male survivor, and are outsiders in the core friendship group, which parallels them. But Natalie is a fighting girl and Misty is an evil genius, Natalie protects Travis and Misty torments Coach Scott. Natalie became a good hunter and ended up being a respected hero to the group, while Misty sabotaged their survival to stay important (just like in "Triangle of Dasness"), and they still dislike her.
Misty is a psychopath who commits most of the premeditated atrocities shown on screen.

Misty is the only one who can't fit into normal life even after being rescued. Even people who have no idea what she is capable of are wary of her and realise that she is "different" in a bad way.
While Shauna, Taissa, Natalie, and Misty have hairstyles as adults that are at least slightly different from those of their teenage years, Van's hair is exactly the same length and shape (albeit more groomed since she's no longer in the wild). This is justified since her character is shown to still be stuck in the past.
Although all adult survivors understand each other's pain and trauma and are unquestioningly loyal to each other, they have a strong herd mentality that prevents them from trusting outsiders, including members of their own families, and makes them dependent on each other to respond to trauma.

For example, Taissa, not knowing how to cope with sleepwalking and unwilling to go to therapy, leaves her family to visit Van, who helped her cope when they were teenagers. The group as a whole, because of their reluctance to go to therapy or open up for fear of revealing their secrets, inadvertently encourages each other's worst habits. For example, when adult Lottie calls for sacrifice in the present, the adult survivors automatically go to their old habits, instinctively wanting to kill Shauna, and only stopping when Callie shows up.

And here are some more interesting facts, storytelling devices and screenwriting tips:

Alternate History: The show features a fictional town: Wiscayoc, New Jersey, and the scenes with the adult actors take place in 2021, with no sign of a pandemic; however, the show is otherwise similar to our real lives.

The second episode ends with Misty finding the plane's flight recorder and breaking it so they won't be found right away, and when she tells Crystal about it, she is horrified and claims it's all Misty's fault. Except the flight recorder is used to determine why the plane crashed, and it doesn't transmit a location signal at all. Of course, the characters may not know that.

On the business card that Jessica Roberts hands to Shauna to supposedly prove that she is a Star-Ledger journalist, her number is listed as 555. Virtually all American phone numbers in fictional media consist of the following digits: The area code is 555 - four random digits.

In the forest, only Akila can be seen studying for exams - the only survivor who seems to be learning anything at all. She also seems to have the most practical knowledge of wilderness survival, as she was a girl scout.

Notice how adult Allie behaves at the reunion. It's not her reunion, as she was a freshman in 1996. But she comes in and talks non-stop about the Hornets' experience, their healing and "their" traumatic bond, even though she was a bad player and because of her injury couldn't get on the plane and go through all the trials her teammates went through.
Dramatic irony: young Shauna tells Jackie that she has reached her peak and will forever be an embittered housewife who will always look back on her high school years with longing. Hours later, Jackie dies. Meanwhile, Shauna has decided not to go to college, but to become a stay-at-home mother and fulfil the prophecy she made about Jackie.
- Arc Symbol (повторяющийся символ): Напоминает обезглавленную женскую фигуру с крюком, выходящим из нижней части. В 1996 году он появляется на дереве и на чердачном полу хижины. В 2021 году он появляется на открытках, которые рассылаются выжившим. Символ также появляется на стене у алтаря Таиссы и на медальоне, который носили похитители Натали. А потом выясняется, что этот символ сделала логотипом своей секты Шарлотта

- Arc Words (повторяющиеся слова): "Spill, spill, spill" для Таиссы.
In Lottie's vision, a glowing bright halo appears around Laura Lee's head, which comes from a fire in the sky. Later, Laura Lee dies in another plane crash while trying to save the girls. This is some kind of foreshadowing.

Taissa and Simone take Sammy for a walk. He is wearing a sandwich costume. They take their dog Biscuit, who is also wearing a hot dog costume.

Coach Martinez is caught in a tree branch, and after much debate about the safest thing to do and whether he is even alive, Travis decides to try to climb the tree and reach him. As he reaches the branch and begins to reach out to his father, the branch breaks and falls down, startling him even more. A brief shot shows Coach Martinez reaching out to Travis just before the branch comes down - suggesting that he was still alive before Travis accidentally broke the branch.
Well, obviously "Staying Alive" and "Lord of the Flies".

- In the episode "Without a Compass", Lottie runs in her nightgown through a series of candlelit underground passages. This footage looks almost identical to Tina's initial dream in which she is being chased by Freddy in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984).

- In the episode "Flight of the Bumblebee", Jessica grabs Misty's pet bird, Caligula, and threatens to snap her neck to convince Misty to let her go, which is a reference to what Katherine did to Buffalo Bill's pet dog in "Silence of the Lambs".

- In the credits of the second season, the older Misty is depicted laughing like Bob in the Red Room in "Twin Peaks". The scene is taken from the episode "Burial", where Misty had a vision of a singing and dancing Caligula during sensory deprivation.
The poster is almost identical to the first posters for "Euphoria": both show the left side of a distraught teenage girl's face and are heavily saturated in colour, in the first case blue and purple, in the second yellow.

A hornet with a deer silhouette is reflected in Jackie's eye, but Jackie dies before Lottie starts wearing the veil.
Girls often refer to the media of the 90s.

- The two Hornets discuss who their favourite Spice Girl is.
- Wang describes the plot of "While You Were Sleeping" as a campfire story. In the year 2021, Misty watches this film. When Taissa goes in search of Van, her vintage video shop is called While You Were Streaming.
- Shauna is leafing through Jackie's diary, which has lists of her favourite films and characters. Her favourite film is Fear (1996).
Casting gag (irony in the cast selection): Three of the four future survivors and protagonists in the adult version are played by young '90s stars, especially known for villainous roles:

- Melanie Lynskey, rose to fame in the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, where she played a psychotic teenager.

- Christina Ricci, who plays the adult Misty, the most obvious villain but also creepy fun, appeared in the 1990s as the young and impassioned creepy kid Wansday Addams in The Addams Family and Addams Family Values.

- Elijah Wood plays Misty's new "friend" and potential love interest, Walter. The two had previously played children in a pre-death relationship in the 1990s film The Ice Storm.

- Juliette Lewis, who plays the Goth rebel former drug addict Natalie, is best known for her role as the infamous killer Mallory in Natural Born Killers, as well as a series of films about rebellious teenage girls, such as her role in Cape Fear.

- Lauren Ambrose plays the adult Wang, continuing a trend - she appeared in the film Psycho Beach Party (among others).

- John Cameron Mitchell made a cameo as the human form of Misty's bird, Caligula. He is best known for playing the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
The Title Montage sequence does not begin to appear until the third episode. It is basically a montage of clips from the show itself. By the sixth episode, most of the clips could already be seen in the show itself, although viewers are still left puzzling over some of the clips and the meaning of some of them.

But the shot of Jackie threatening someone by faking a throat slash and then winking at the camera was taken from a video of Ella Pournelle goofing around on set. When she saw this footage in the credits, she didn't remember filming it and had to ask the makers when it was shot.

Unseemly Latin: The first season finale is called "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi", which translates to "Thus passes the worldly glory" or, in other words, "Thus passes the glory of the world". The phrase was once used in papal coronation ceremonies and is meant to serve as a reminder of the transitory nature of life and earthly honours. As expected, this doesn't bode well for the Hornets, particularly Jackie, who dies freezing in the woods and has a dream about being loved. The title may be a pun, as the episode also features the death and funeral of a woman named Gloria.
The entire main cast was given the script from episode to episode to avoid leaks. The only exception was made for Melanie Lynskey, as she convinced the producers that knowing what was going on was very important to her acting process, and even then she was only given a vague outline of the first season script.

And Ella Pournelle was the only one who was informed that Jackie would die in the first season finale.

Many of the actors influenced their characters:

- The idea that Misty was trained at the Red Cross for babysitters (twice!) comes from Samantha Hanratty, who plays her as a teenager. In the original backstory, Misty drew her knowledge from books, and her parents worked in the medical field. But Samantha felt that Misty should have been more active in self-education.

- Ella Pernell has decided thatJackie will continue to use make-up and will be the last of the girls to continue to do so, right up until the moment she reads Shauna's diary.

- Christina Ricci suggested that Misty would drink a chocolate martini instead of the Brandy Alexander she was supposed to drink in the script.

The actors playing the younger and older versions of the characters do bear a striking resemblance to each other, although this is partly due to make-up.

Sophie Thatcher, in particular, absolutely captures Juliette Lewis's famously husky voice.

- Laura Lee was originally supposed to die in the pilot episode, and she only had one or two lines. According to Melanie Lynskey, this changed because Jane Widdop made a strong impression on the show's writers during the audition.

- In the original script, Coach Scott has a brief affair with Cat Wheeler, who was written as a female football coach who was supposed to go on a flight, but was removed from the final version of the series.

- Adam was supposed to be an adult Xavi, but the writers took a different route.

- Vanessa Palmer was supposed to die in the woods in the first season. The writers were so impressed with Liv Hewson's performance that her character not only survived, but lived to adulthood.
This is such a great breakdown of the series "Hornets" I got - very much I liked it, and, I'm sure, will appeal to all fans of women's series and light thrilling horror films.

Did you enjoy the show?