TV

Netflix’s ‘The Society’ Is The Trashy New Mystery Show You Have To Binge

Depending on your pop cultural taste, the concept of a town populated solely by teens is either going to make you instantly add 'The Society' to your watchlist, or run away screaming.

The Society Netflix

The Society is Netflix’s latest teen show, and before you click away at the thought of that concept, stick with me. It might surprise you.

The Society is about a group of American high schoolers who get dumped back in their town after a field trip and discover every other person has disappeared without a trace.

The teens can’t access the internet (the horror!!) or communicate with the outside world, and the town is suddenly surrounded by an impenetrable thick forest, so they can’t leave either.

They’re stuck there, alone, forced to fend for themselves for the first time ever.

Depending on your pop cultural taste, the concept of a town populated solely by teens is either going to make you instantly add The Society to your watchlist, or run away screaming.

As someone who has sat through way too many episodes of Pretty Little Liars and Riverdale, I obviously identify as the former — but I have to say, even if you hate the idea, I think The Society is worth checking out.

Pros:

It respects its teen characters

One of markers of a terrible teen show or movie is a clear lack of respect for actual teens. You know what I’m talking about. The kind of media which features dialogue that sounds like a 74-year-old who has never actually met a teen in their life has written it, and that treats its characters like they’re an alien species and not people at all.

The Society never does this. Its characters are well-developed and complex. Sure, some of them might look like they’re in their twenties, but they act like teens. Which means they mess up, do silly things and are sometimes immature, but they also try their best, speak and act with passion, and do and say incredibly smart things. You know, just like actual people.

It’s almost too real

Question: what’s the first thing teenagers would do when they discover there’s no adult supervision in their whole town? If you think the answer is throw an epic party, you’re right. But what about the second thing?

They organise. It’s called The Society for a reason, because that’s exactly what it’s about. The group has to come together to figure out how to function. The girls in particular work to prevent the town from descending into chaos, and to figure out what’s happened to them and how they’re going to survive and perhaps return home.

The far-fetched concept acts as the perfect frame for stripping the characters back to their core and exploring big themes like politics, mental health, disability, domestic violence, toxic masculinity, capitalism, sexuality, teen pregnancy, capital punishment, religion, and gun violence, amongst other things. Yes, really!

And none of these things are treated with heavy-handedness, so the show manages to avoid didacticism. Instead, it feels like an all-too-real reflection of our reality, exploring what it takes for any of us to survive it.

The mystery is compelling

The overarching mystery of The Society is what exactly has happened to the kids. Are they even still in their own town, or are they somewhere else entirely? Where did everyone else go? Why has this happened?

Over the course of the 10 episodes of Season 1, we get some clues and a lot of symbolism that is prime for fan theorists to wild. It’s the kind of show that will have you talking and analysing and yearning for the next season asap.

There are also several subplots that are incredibly compelling, and plot twists that will keep you constantly guessing – especially as the show ramps up around the third episode mark.

Cons:

The cast is sprawling

There are SO MANY CHARACTERS.

That isn’t a bad thing by the time you get to the later episodes — it really does feel like a “society”, and the variety of characters allows for more interesting stories and a realistic feel to the whole set-up.

But for the first couple of episodes, you’ll spend most of your time trying to figure out who is who, how they’re all related, and if you’ve even seen them on screen before. And forget trying to get a handle of all their names.

You’ll have a major show hangover

I binged all of The Society in one weekend and desperately needed more immediately. But Netflix hasn’t announced if there’ll even be a second season yet, and if there isn’t it will be a major bummer because I. Need. Answers.

Don’t let that put you off from watching it though — because that’s the only way to get another season. And you can always rewatch it (if you’re anything like me, you’ll definitely want to).

So, Should You Bother Watching The Society?

TL;DR, yes!

It’s the smartest teen show I’ve seen in a long time (and I’ve seen a lot of them). It feels raw and authentic despite its fantastical concept, and it’s doing really interesting things with its storytelling and characterisation.

Also, I need more people to talk about it so we can get the tin foil out and cook up some wild and wonderful fan theories. Okay? Thanks.


Jenna Guillaume is a Sydney-based writer who loves all things TV and pop culture. She tweets @JennaGuillaume, and her new book, ‘What I Like About Me’ is available now.