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Yellowjackets is a collective fever dream, presenting a much-needed deliriously unhinged version of the 1990s

  • "Unfettered nostalgia for the ’90s — especially among elder millennials and Gen-X folks — has been a part of our cultural consciousness for decades, and the Yellowjackets team knows it," says Alexis Ong. "On the surface, the ’90s setting is its most effective weapon. It was a “simpler time” full of iconic albums and movies and catchphrases and band T-shirts that remain living parts of our memories. But it was also a time when being openly queer / gay wasn’t accepted, when cloying stereotypes had a much stronger hand in shaping teen social dynamics, when things were awkward and grungy. All of this ‘90s catnip is a rose-colored yearning for how we communicated before smartphones and TikTok, and for high school girls, a huge part of this is a violent opera of hormones and a lot of spontaneous psychic damage to the people around them. The show’s creators, Amy Lyle and Bart Nickerson, are really, really good at wielding this brand of emotional nostalgia, and as a result, the way we talk about Yellowjackets is ultimately, for me, a delightful regression back to my high-school self. It really is like riding a fucked-up bike. A few critics have pointed out, rightly so, that all the speculating and all the theories ultimately don’t mean anything. The real beating heart of Yellowjackets isn’t really about picking apart Jackie’s temporally questionable diary entries or the casual Hole song designed to send me straight back to puberty. That’s all set dressing and theatre. And as fun as it is pointing out when Shauna rocks a Yo La Tengo shirt, my takeaway from this whole experience is far more masochistic...Yellowjackets is a collective fever dream, a streamed microdose to bring out the best and worst of our past selves. It’s a meticulously-designed mirror that reproduces the neuroses of high-school teenhood: the small, fierce insecurities; the volcanic outbursts; the shifting alliances. When we see Jackie staring daggers at Shauna getting close to other girls, I can remember just how that white-hot paranoia and jealousy feels in my bones. Shauna and Jackie’s big finale showdown is built on the social rituals and power dynamics of every archetypal popular-girl story ever told — the kind of stuff that fueled the all-girls boarding school I went to and the kind of stuff you outgrow (hopefully) and shed like a skin. In harnessing this power, Yellowjackets does something sacred and brings back all of that angst and energy to channel into its viewers."


    TOPICS: Yellowjackets, Showtime