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Photo: Kailey Schwerman/Showtime

Yellowjackets is the WASPY 90s Teen Drama We All Needed

Attack of the Killer B's

by George Wallace

There’s still time to set your binge watch plans in motion this weekend to catch up in time for the Yellowjackets season finale on Sunday. And if the nine episodes available from Showtime so far can be taken as any kind of indication, you won’t regret it. Each episode offers up enough nostalgic delight to keep fans of all ages thoroughly engaged with its fast paced delivery paired with a killer soundtrack steeped in 90s nostalgia. 

Yellowjackets follows the exploits and misadventures of a New Jersey girl’s all star soccer team – lead by Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher, and Sammi Hanratty – after their plane crashes deep in the Canadian wilderness during an away game trip to Seattle. As the students struggle with their new reality there is plenty of shock and horror, to rattle your senses. Fast-forward to present day, the lives of the four surviving team members are also explored – portrayed by Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis, and a completely unrecognizable Christina Ricci – as they deal with living in the wake of surviving such a traumatic and senseless experience.

At turns dizzyingly surreal and often frighteningly accurate, the series is not afraid to push buttons and boundaries. And the musical selections on display are a masterfully chosen greatest hits collection of the era, spanning every “alternative” genre that defined the decade. From Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair starting the series off strong in Ep 1 to Wilson Phillips, The Cranberries, Montell Jordan and even Seal, the original score is provided by a pair of 90s alt rock veterans; Anna Waronker (lead vocals and guitar from That Dog.) and Craig Wedren (lead vocals and guitar from Shudder to Think). “It’s so rare to get a project where every day you’re like, I can’t believe they’re not just letting us do this, they’re encouraging us to go even further,” Wedren confessed to Pitchfork in a recent interview.

For decades the primary focus of any nostalgic film or television program was to squarely target the boomer generation but finally the time has come for the doom generation to take the wheel. From the classic Dazed and Confused to the pitch perfect new offering from Paul Thomas Anderson Licorice Pizza, the focus of pop culture nostalgia has been entrenched in worshipping the good old simple days of the 70s, and frankly the appeal is starting to wear a little thin. There are only so many great classic rock tunes available in the back catalog and it’s near impossible to hear them being celebrated on the soundtracks of these pieces of media without involuntarily rolling your eyes with an “Ok Boomer!” on the tip of your tongue. Is there life on mars? Who cares!? I want to know who lives, dies, and gets eaten in the depths of the Canadian woodlands instead.

Yellowjackets is soaked through with the angst and malaise of life as a pre-internet teenager and it somehow also provides viewers with one of the most accurate portrayals of teenage life in the 90s without veering off into sentimental nonsense. If you’ve ever wondered what Lord of the Flies would be like if it was forced into a blender with Mean Girls and soundtracked by your weird record collecting uncle who never went anywhere in life, you owe it to yourself to dive into Yellowjackets and get buzzed on the last innocent age the youth of the world would experience before Myspace, Facebook and TikTok took over and changed everything.