'Yellowjackets' Stars on What They Love About Showtime's Breakout Survival Series (Exclusive)

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Not since Lost has a show captured the attention of TV fans with its theory-filled, time-jumping, interweaving storytelling about a high school soccer team that survives a 1996 plane crash and is stranded in the mountains while also telling the story of several of the survivors trying to keep what happened during those months a secret 25 years later.  

Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, Yellowjackets draws inspiration from multiple real-life accounts of groups of people resorting to cannibalism and the classic novel, Lord of the Flies, while injecting the survival story with mystery, suspense and supernatural elements as it follows several characters, Shauna (Melanie Lynskey and Sophie Nélisse), Taissa (Tawny Cypress and Jasmin Savoy Brown), Natalie (Juliette Lewis and Sophie Thatcher) and Misty (Christina Ricci and Sammi Hanratty), across multiple timelines.  

Not only has it drawn comparisons to Lost (and other YA-themed series like The Wilds and Panic) with its puzzle-box narrative, but its focus on a group of teenage girls discovering themselves amid their struggle to survive an increasingly more mysterious landscape makes Ricci recall some of Stephen King’s classic work. “This reminds of a coming-of-age story meets Stephen King. It feels very Stephen King to me [with the] young-adult element. But then you also get total weirdness with the adults,” says the 41-year-old actress who plays the team’s equipment manager who turns out to be wildly misunderstood and a master manipulator.  

Yellowjackets
Showtime

She adds, “It’s scary. There’s mystery. Everyone’s trying to figure something out. But at the same time, I think what’s unique about the show is that we have a really incredible group of female characters that don’t pander and don’t need to be liked. [They’re not] like anything you’ve seen before.”  

Among them are fellow players and initial survivors of the crash, Akilah (Keeya King), Jackie (Ella Purnell), Laura Lee (Jane Widdop), Lottie (Courtney Eaton), Mari (Alexa Barajas) and Van (Liv Hewson), whose fates are slowly revealed throughout season 1, which draws to a close with its 10th episode on Jan. 16. (The series itself has already been renewed for a second season, while the creators pitched a five-year plan to Showtime.) 

“It’s truly female driven,” says Lynskey, whose character, Shauna, finds herself trying to keep her secrets from spilling out as she struggles to keep her affairs in order. “The characters are really specific and interesting... I also love that it’s kind of a psychological thriller about your own trauma. Like, traumas that have come back to haunt you, which I think is something a lot of people can relate to.” 

Yellowjackets
Showtime

Ricci adds that the series shows what kind of extreme reactions come out of having to survive these terrible situations. 

And it’s what happens to all of them, particularly who leads the eventual cannibalistic tribe and who among them gets eaten, that remains to be seen -- and is something that seems to be fiercely guarded among the adults who learn that someone is bent on uncovering the truth.  

“I just love it how it’s all intertwined,” says Lewis, whose character, Natalie, was the anti-social one of the bunch with a deeply defiant personality and later struggles with addiction. As one of several surviving adults, Natalie finds herself begrudgingly turning to Taissa, Shauna and Misty to figure out who is digging into their past.  

Yellowjackets
Showtime

“What brings them back together is that the events start happening again,” says Brown, who appears as the younger version of Taissa, who later grows up to be married mother and aspiring local politician. “There is a lull in contact between the adult women. Things have been quiet and then when things start happening, they know what they need [to do]. The only people they can count on is the ones who they went through this initial trauma with.”   

Over the course of their mini reunion, it's eventually learned they all have different motivations for keeping the past buried in the mountains. “Then you learn through the writing little bits of history,” Lewis says of the show’s slow reveal of the many unexpected and sometimes shocking twists and turns that led them to where they are now. “I just love that about the writing that it’s sort of like breadcrumbs dropping out.”  

Fittingly, she adds, “It’s quite delicious.”  


Yellowjackets airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. 

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