Here’s What ‘The Wilds’ Season 2 Got Right (& One Thing It Got Wrong)

*Warning: Spoilers ahead*

I'm a sucker for coming-of-age shows that explore feminist themes, so when I first heard about The Wilds, I just couldn't resist checking it out.

With such a compelling premise and honest portrayals of the female experience, it was virtually impossible to not devour each episode of season one. The Prime Video series, which feels like a cross between Yellowjackets and Lord of the Flies, is equal parts bizarre and thought-provoking. It not only tackles timely themes, but it also reminds viewers that navigating your teenage years can be just as hellish as trying to survive on a remote island. In case you haven't seen the first season, it follows a group of girls who are led to believe that they're going on a retreat called the "Dawn of Eve," when in reality, each of them are being observed as part of an elaborate experiment. But now, in season two, which premieres May 6, the show follows a second control group of teenage boys who suffer the same fate. Meanwhile, the girls continue to fight for survival as they get one step closer to being rescued.

Judging by the first episode, which jumps ahead seven days after the finale in season one, there's plenty more drama to come. In addition to following the girls' journey, the show also examines the teenage boys' psyche as they struggle to fend for themselves, touching on themes like identity, gender stereotypes, mental health and acceptance. All this makes for a riveting watch.

To quickly recap the end of season one, Shelby had a medical emergency while Leah snuck out of her room and discovered footage of young boys on an island. Now, for those who are itching to find out what happened next, you should know that the series is in no rush to reveal these details. A lot is still kept hidden throughout the first episode, which shifts most of the focus to the new subjects. Without revealing too many details, the first few moments are almost too painful to watch, offering glimpses of one particular traumatic event from the island before cutting to a montage of teen boys, who appear to be filming their applications for a special retreat.

It becomes clear right off the bat that puppet master Gretchen Klein (Rachel Griffiths) has orchestrated her own twisted version of a battle of the sexes with these experiments—and this makes the series doubly intriguing. Seeing the girls' behavior and interactions juxtaposed with those of their male counterparts is fascinating, especially when it comes to how they respond to trauma. For instance, Rafael Garcia (Zack Calderon), a soft-spoken high schooler who survived on the island, informs two men claiming to be FBI agents that the incident brought out the worst in him and his peers. Meanwhile, we hear Leah (Sarah Pidgeon) confessing to those same men that this experience turned the girls into a family.

the wilds boys
Kane Skennar

As expected, the performances are phenomenal all around. Calderon is easily likable as the shy and quiet Raf, Nicholas Coombe is delightful as the emotionally mature Josh and Charles Alexander commands the screen as narcissistic pretty boy Kirin, who quickly proves to be a natural born leader. The character development of the girls and the representation of LGBTQ relationships also make this series stand out. Still, I have a small bone to pick.

While it gets so many things right in terms of diversity and timely themes, the series could've benefited from casting more people of color with darker skin tones. Perhaps it's not that big of a deal to most, considering that the characters are already so varied. But as someone who's acutely aware of Hollywood's history of colorism—especially when it comes to Black women with darker tones—it's hard to ignore the fact that the only Black teens happen to be mixed and fair-skinned. This isn't to say that the lack of dark skin tones automatically makes this show unwatchable, but it would've been so rewarding to see at least one darker-skinned Black teenager take on a nuanced role.

Still, the show's strengths clearly outweigh its drawbacks. Aside from balancing mature themes with lightness and humor, it never fails to keep viewers guessing.

Purewow Rating: 4 Out Of 5 Stars

Season two of The Wilds continues to reel viewers in with new twists, compelling new characters and timely themes that are sure to resonate with different age groups—especially fans of Lost or Yellowjackets.

For a full breakdown of PureWow's entertainment rating system, click here.

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nakeisha campbell bio

Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...