Adulting is hard. The high schoolers of fictional West Ham, CT will learn this quickly in the Netflix Original drama The Society. Buses full of high school students return from a field trip to find things have gone awry in their little New England town. All the adults are missing, in fact everyone is missing. Have they been evacuated? Was there an alien abduction? Or is something even stranger happening?
That Reminds Me
The Society is like Lost meets Lord of the Flies with a little bit of Under the Dome thrown in. All the roads end at the edge of town and the surrounding towns have been replaced by dense forrest. It looks like they’re home, and yet somehow they’re not. Weird things begin to happen, a solar eclipse that was not forecasted, a coin toss that seems to defy statistics and no wifi!
So what are a bunch of unchaperoned teens to do?
Unfortunately, people must be fed, garbage must be collected, societies need rules and organization, herein lies the conflict.
As time goes by and there is nowhere to go and no one comes to help, these kids are forced to rebuild their society. Personality traits are amplified as resources run low, work rotations are scheduled and slackers need to be held accountable. Leaders reluctantly rise to the occasion because someone has to do something. However, where there are leaders, there are also dissenters. Then things get worse. There is mayhem, murder, sickness, and a growing body count throughout the season.
Pick up the Pace People
For a show about teens with lots of hookups, f-bombs and chaos, there is also a lack of action. The series starts slow as the kids try to figure out what’s going on and adjust to the loss of their families. There are many scenes of town meetings and kids sitting around in houses talking, killing time, having a beer, dropping more f-bombs. The end of episode 3 is game changing and in the final three (of 10) episodes of the season, the stakes get higher as there is room for hope in the midst of utter pandemonium.
The Society deals with some big issues: teen sex, gun violence, domestic violence, politics, morality, faith, homosexuality and substance abuse. The show is targeted to teens, some calling it the best teen drama in 2019, but it’s rated TV-MA. Some traumatic stuff goes down that could be upsetting to more sensitive adolescents. Episode 6 was particularly tough to watch, and I’m 45.
There is a general dearth of mythology in the series. The characters are mysteriously not where they were before (another planet, dimension, timeline). There are theories but not enough strange occurrences. Elements could have been added or exploited to deepen the general weirdness of what’s going on. The Society could use a few less town meetings and a few more creepy incidents.
Although it facilitates the story, I can’t figure out why these people still have cell phone service. There is seemingly no wifi as they can’t contact the outside world (if there is one) and are actually using books to look things up when medical issues or other questions arise, but they are texting all the time. It’s a little too convenient.
Despite the slow start and some annoying little issues I am completely invested in The Society. Maybe it’s because I’m a mother and I’m really worried about these kids. It might be because I grew up in Connecticut and some of these characters remind me of the
assholes classmates I spent years with in school. I also totally ship the gay couple in this show. The final scene of Season 1 drops a big piece of information in our laps but Netflix has yet to announce a second season.