To work, creator Sarah Streicher’s new series doesn’t need to be innovative, says Hillary Busis. "It just has to be propulsive, to feature actors skilled and game enough to sell even its more cliched elements, to establish a few tantalizing mysteries and mete out their answers at a satisfying pace," says Busis. "It has to balance trauma with moments of levity—to have a sense of humor, and at least a couple of legitimately surprising twists. On those levels, The Wilds delivers. Streicher’s show doesn’t have anything new to say about the pressures girls face, or the way their social dynamics are constantly shifting—even without the threats of quicksand and wild beasts. But it does have endless empathy for those girls, for their perseverance in the face of a cold and unforgiving world. The show’s earnest charge is a nice change of pace from the bleak, empty cynicism and snark that so often infuse contemporary young adult-aimed TV series. The Wilds has slyer elements as well, particularly a canny critique of hashtag-girlboss corporate feminism that unfolds throughout the season’s second half. It helps, too, that the show looks great—Amazon shot The Wilds on location in New Zealand (and on Kiwi soundstages), and it shows."
The Wilds makes a bold statement for a show that doesn't require any subtlety: "Even its premise isn't one that bothers with nuance, making it one of the easiest shows to describe in recent memory: 'teen girl Lost,' says Liz Shannon Miller. "But while the premise is easy to reduce down to simple terms, the Amazon Prime Video drama builds upon that to create a truly addictive blend of mystery, drama, comedy, and fear."
If picked up for a second season, The Wilds would be better off emphasizing the basics: "The new Amazon series, from Daredevil writer Sarah Streicher, works best ... letting its teens be recognizable teens," says Caroline Framke. "But when it broadens the story to include the nefarious forces that may have landed them on the island, The Wilds loses its focus almost entirely. It could have been enough to just watch these characters deal with the horror of being stranded without hope of rescue; throwing them into a messy corporate conspiracy thriller only serves to break up what makes the show most interesting."
Don't call The Wilds a "teen Lost": "Here, the mystery isn't so much why these girls are on the island as how being there will change them — and I, for one, want to go back," says Kristen Baldwin.