'The Society' Is A Teen Show That Doesn't Underestimate Teenagers
A modern take on 'Lord of the Flies', 'The Society' marks a turning point for teen shows after a string of series' that treated their core audience with disrespect.
'Pretty Little Liars' spent seven seasons teasing fans with red herrings and loose ends, only to tie it all up in the final 10 episodes, quickly retconning the final A's identity into a character audiences had never (technically) seen before the second half of its final season.
Similarly, 'Gossip Girl' writers decided -- seemingly during its sixth and final season -- to make Dan Humphries THE Gossip Girl, despite early seasons that showed Dan reacting to texts from Gossip Girl... himself.
These are just two examples of shows that began as cultural juggernauts, only to undermine their legacy by assuming that their intended audience either wouldn't notice or wouldn't care about the gaping plot holes and impossible timelines, and ignoring the fact that fandoms -- particularly ones where teen girls dominate -- are basically detectives who know everything and remember even the most minuscule of details. Just ask Taylor Swift.
Comparatively, 'The Society' is a breath of fresh air. Perhaps for the first time since the days of 'Buffy, the Vampire Slayer' and 'Veronica Mars', 'The Society' is a teen show that doesn't speak down to its audience.
The premise of the show is simple. Five busloads of teenagers leave their small, wealthy New England town on a school trip, only to be dropped back home that evening and greeted by no one. Questions like 'where is everyone?' and 'is this really home?' quickly arise, and the teenagers soon realise that they're alone in a world that may or may not be their own, with no one and nothing to guide them.
Over the course of the series' 10 episodes, it tackles everything from toxic masculinity to abusive relationships, as well as politics, drugs, gun control and entitlement, and that's just the start of the list.
In an era where Trump is president and children are forced to do active shooter drills in America, 'The Society' refuses to ignore the issues of the real world, despite the fact that the characters may not be in the "real world" as we know it. In fact, by taking the characters out of the real world, it shows how ingrained these issues are in society.
It's not all doom and gloom, though. Like any good teen show, there are love triangles and friendships and parties and excitement, all set to an awesome soundtrack. Speaking to TIME, executive producer Christopher Keyser said that the aim was to “talk about big things in a way that is fun".
“We wrote about younger characters, but we treated them in some ways as if they might as well be adults, in that they had the same intuition or experiences,” Keyser said. “I hope that kids who watch it, at whatever age, feel like they’re not being talked down to.”
The cast is also stacked with recognisable talent, and features Sean Berdy, headed back to high school after graduating from Freeform's 'Switched at Birth', Kathryn Newton and Gideon Adlon from last year's comedy smash 'Blockers', and Kristine Froseth from 'The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair' and 'Sierra Burgess is a Loser'. There's even some Aussies in the mix, and Toby Wallace and Olivia DeJonge's story arc is sure to get fans talking.
If it seems like there's a lot of characters, there are, and the show covers a lot of ground in its first season. With plot twists and characters sure to keep audiences glued to their couches when the series drops on May 10, it's a show that deserves the frenetic fandom of a show like 'Pretty Little Liars', and gives its viewers plenty of questions to mull over for the next year before the (likely but as-yet-unconfirmed) release of season two. We certainly can't wait to read them all.
'The Society' drops in full on May 10.