Yellowjackets hit Showtime in the fall of 2021, TV critics went gaga for the new series, but that doesn’t always denote a hit show. Thankfully, audiences have also caught onto the multi-timeline multi-mystery, whose story is almost as convoluted as the theories it’s been spawning. But with the first season now over and a long, cold Canadian winter until fans are fed more, here are a few shows like Yellowjackets to help keep the cult alive.
There’s just one small problem with trying to recommend a show like
Yellowjackets to fill that buzzing hole in your life: There are no shows like Yellowjackets on TV. There are stories about stranded kids struggling to get rescued, dramas about plane crash survivors, shows set in the 1990s, and series about teen-girl drama, but rarely do you get all of these together. And that’s just the first layer. Yellowjackets is also a supernatural thriller, a possible murder mystery series, a show in which the past is an undiscovered country, a body-horror tale, and one with multiple plots that span decades.
So, what shows should fans sit down with once they’ve finished the first season and have a long wait until they can discover more? Here are a few suggestions.
The Wilds begins with a group of high school girls on their way to a women’s empowerment retreat in Hawaii — except their plane crashes and they get stranded on a deserted island with little hope of rescue. Like Yellowjackets, this is an ensemble piece featuring characters from diverse backgrounds; it stars Sophia Ali, Reign Edwards, Shannon Berry, Mia Healey, Helena Howard, Erana James, Sarah Pidgeon, and Jenna Clause. There’s a big twist in the series that I won’t spoil here, and Season 2 already looks like a fascinating follow-up. The Wilds Season 1 is streaming on Prime Video.
The little airplane crash series that could,
Manifest hits a couple of the Yellowjackets buttons. A plane goes missing from Jamaica to New York City in the middle of a thunderstorm, only to reappear with all the survivors on board just fine. There’s only one problem: They think it’s been five hours since their plane took off, but it’s been five years for the rest of the world. The story’s supernatural elements are a major draw here, as is its Cinderella story after it was canceled by NBC and rescued by Netflix. Manifest Seasons 1 through 3 are streaming on Netflix, with Season 4 expected later in 2022.
Looking for the story of a 1990s era all-girls high school sports team and where they are now in the present day? Kate Winslet’s starring turn in this
True Detective-like crime-of-time-and-place may have gotten everyone fixated on figuring out the kidnapper/murderer. However, the heart of the drama is less about who murdered who and more about the relationships between a team of high school basketball stars, now in their 40s, whose lives didn’t turn out the way they dreamed. Mare of Easttown is streaming on HBO Max.
For those looking for the same 1990s vibe and multiple timelines to piece together,
Cruel Summer is the next show to put on your list. Each episode focuses on a single day over the course of 1993, 1994, and 1995. The story focuses on two teenage girls, the popular Kate Wallis and the awkward outcast Jeanette Turner, whose lives irrevocably intersect when the former goes missing. Solving the mystery of how their lives rise and fall over the intervening time is as important as figuring out the whodunit. Cruel Summer is streaming on Hulu. Dark is all about the twisted timelines, the supernatural, and the what-the-heck-is-happening vibes. The German-language series begins with a child’s disappearance but quickly turns into a story of several generations of four families whose lives are all intertwined by the accidental discovery of time travel. Break out the fan theory notes; this will turn you into an if you let it. Always Sunny meme
All three seasons of
Dark are streaming on Netflix.
For those who love
Yellowjackets’ twisted timelines and mysteries of the past, This Is Us is the feel-good version in which nobody resorts to cannibalism. The series deals with many of the same issues of un-therapized trauma and grief, but thankfully no one has to learn how to skin a deer.
All episodes of
This Is Us are streaming on Hulu.
The show that
Yellowjackets has been compared to the most, Lost is the original puzzlebox mystery series of the early aughts. From the plane crash that left survivors on a deserted island to the flashbacks to the flash-forwards to the ending that is still hotly debated today, Lost had it all. And despite how you feel about the finale, the show still holds up.
All seasons of
Lost are streaming on Hulu. Yellowjackets also has a lot of echoes from Lost creator Damon Lindelof's second series, the criminally overlooked The Leftovers. Based on the graphic novel of the same name, the series is set a year after 11% of the population disappears with no explanation. It is as if one took Yellowjackets and focused solely on the present-day storyline, in which survivors of an unspeakable trauma have to figure out how to pick up the pieces and go on when there is no explaining the past.
All three seasons of
The Leftovers are streaming on HBO Max.
Although K-drama fans will probably bring up
เคว้ง, or Khweng, which roughly translates to The Stranded, technically it hails from Thailand. Starring Papangkorn Lerkchaleampote, Chutawut Phatrakampol, and Oabnithi Wiwattanawarang, the series centers around a group of teens from an elite academy who have to band together for survival after a tsunami hits the island where they are vacationing. The Stranded is streaming on Netflix.
Part of the horror of
Yellowjackets’ 1990s timeline doesn’t come from the unknowns in the forest. The bears, spirits, and unexplained terrors on the night have nothing on the deadliest creatures in this forest: teenage girls. To see just how frightening they can be, try Pretty Little Liars, a series that explores the depths of just how cruel girls can be.
All seasons of
Pretty Little Liars are streaming on HBO Max. The revival, Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, is expected in 2022. Yellowjackets Season 1 is currently exclusive to Showtime and Showtime Anytime. Don't miss a thing
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