When Diversity Makes the Difference
On Why The Wilds Might Just Be What We’ve Been Waiting For. by Alessandra Puglisi
Part survival-tale and part YA coming-of-age drama, the new Amazon Prime Video hit-show The Wilds takes the viewers for a ride and keeps them on their toes until the end. The show features the lives of nine teenagers who are headed to a retreat in Hawaii for a weekend of female empowerment, or that is until their plane crashes and they find themselves stranded on a deserted island battling for survival. Given the subject matter, it is not a mystery why The Wilds has immediately caught the attention of the public. But the plot is not the only worthy thing to keep an eye on.
The creator, Sarah Streicher, said that a big task while making the show was to eliminate the presence of men on the island and focus only on the issues and experiences that women — especially teenagers — go through. This is not to say that men do not appear in the show; their presence is, in fact, often a major catalyst to some of the struggles the protagonists go through. However, Streicher managed to explore the individual background of each one of the girls through their own perspectives, conveying their stories with honesty, but without being insensitive and overexplicit for the viewer.
According to Amy Harris, one of the executive producers, the key to having a truthful exploration of the characters and to creating an authentic and wide-resonating product was to bring other women into the project. With nine female leads, six directors, four executive producers, four writers and one stunt coordinator behind the scenes, the women of The Wilds have truly made the biggest difference on the final product.
The show also does a great job at portraying diversity on and off the screen, with a widely diverse cast who is true to their characters’ backgrounds. Erana James and Jenna Clause, whose characters Toni and Martha are indigenous, are respectively of Māori heritage (her iwi are Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei and Waikato Tainui) and a member of the Cayuga Nation Wolf Clan of the Haudenosaunee People from the Six Nations Reserve.
Sophia Ali, who plays Fatin Jadmani, spoke about the importance for her to play a Pakistani character, admitting that her previous roles have always been “ambiguous, or Indian, or something I’m not but I could pass as.”
Amy Harris affirmed that it was important for The Wilds to show people from diverse upbringings not only in racial terms, but also of a different socio-economic, religious and parental background, in order to depict a seamless transition from the real world to the screen.
Another executive producer, Jamie Tarses (who has sadly passed away on the 1st of February), added that the wide success of The Wilds could not have been achieved if the marketplace did not have an interest in this kind of narrative in the first place. She commented that, “There was a sense in the ether that people were looking for stories from a female point-of-view that empowered young women or women in general.”
Amazon has already renewed the show for a second season and creator Sarah Streicher spoke about having plans for at least two more seasons in order to fully develop the story.