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Yellowjackets uses the logic of YA novels

  • As Alison Stine points out, the Showtime horror series features tropes frequently used in Young Adult novels. "Yellowjackets has been, from the beginning, unapologetically teen," says Stine. "And not Sweet Valley High teen with 'easy' Annie on the cheerleading squad and oh no, Todd got a motorcycle — but drinking in the liquor store parking lot and taking medication on a breakfast tray teen. When the majority of the cast are adolescent girls, there are going to be scenes of journals and parties. But Yellowjackets has taken it deeper and darker with scenes of menstruation and a home abortion attempt.  Being a teen girl is rough. Surviving childhood is visceral, raw, and hard, even if you don't have to shoot and butcher your own wild game. At the time the girls in Yellowjackets were growing up in the mid-'90s — and to a different extent, now — you were also maligned, simply for the fact of existing, having a body." Stine notes that YA novels have become "big business, selling 5 million books in 2013 to a whopping 10 million books last year, with many attributing the jump in YA title sales to Book TikTok. In 1996, the year the plane of Yellowjackets never makes it to nationals, the YA book The Thief by Meg Whalen Turner was a bestseller, and while the girls in the blue and gold may not have read other teen hits of that year (I know in my school we were much more likely to be assigned "Lord of the Flies" than anything by any living writer), the show certainly uses the logic of YA novels. A central tenet of writing for children or teens? Get adults out of the way. Adults are useless, and nothing slows a story down faster than parental units. Growing up, most of my favorite novels centered orphans: Anne of Green Gables, Emily of New Moon, The Boxcar Children. Yellowjackets applies this tenet with the plane crash that swiftly dispatches almost all of the adults. The lone adult survivor, Coach Ben (Steven Krueger) loses a leg in the accident, and while he gamely does his best on a makeshift crutch, he has limited mobility and influence. As Laura Lee (Jane Widdop) defiantly and rhetorically asks him, when he says he forbids her from flying an ancient seaplane out of the forest, 'What are you going to do to stop me, Coach?'"


    • Yellowjackets pulls no punches when it comes to gore: "The show bluntly explores the vulnerability of the human body; the story is predicated on the tactile flow of blood," says Doreen St. Félix. "A girl is impaled when the plane hits the ground. One survivor looks up, after sensing moisture on her forehead, only to find the head coach’s body supine on a tree branch, dripping blood. The group’s survival initially depends on hunting animals; there are many scenes of butchery, of meat being gnawed. It takes the girls a while to acclimate—all except Misty (Sammi Hanratty), the team’s equipment manager. Misty is a sui-generis creep. Back in suburbia, she’d been teased for her eccentricities, but in the wild, where her triage skills outstrip any of her peers’, she is all-powerful. A baby Nurse Ratched, she amputates the shattered leg of the team’s assistant coach, whom she has a crush on, saving him, but also leaving him trapped. The adult Misty (Christina Ricci) becomes an actual nurse, still tormenting her charges. Misty’s willingness to cross boundaries, not just to menace but to endanger, puts into high relief the grief of Natalie, another outsider, who is also unstable. In the woods, young Natalie (Sophie Thatcher) and Travis (Kevin Alves), the head coach’s older son, form a romance over a shotgun, which they use to hunt. The adult Natalie (Juliette Lewis) wields a shotgun, too, but it serves more as a totem than as a weapon."
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    TOPICS: Yellowjackets, Showtime