'The A List' on Netflix: Why latest supernatural teen drama set on a mysterious island should be on your must-watch list
'The A List' has been widely touted by its creators as being 'Lost Girls' meets 'Mean Girls'. So, you can expect what characters might already be there in the show. There is the stereotypical mean girl - the one who bullies whom she perceives to be weaker, the handsome love interest, the chirpy sidekick, the loner geek and a few others who round out the social strata. The drama which originally aired on BBC's streaming service, iPlayer, was released as a Netflix original on August 30. Only one season is out currently, with more yet to be confirmed.
In 'The A List', you might mistake the 'mean girl' to be Mia (played by Lisa Ambalavanar), one of many teenagers who find themselves on Peregrine island for the "holiday of a lifetime". It's clear from the beginning that Mia does not want to be here - on the island where she can get no signal on her phone. She looks around at everyone else who has come to decide who could be part of her posse. Later, when the campers play an icebreaker-game, Amber makes a sudden appearance, informing the group that she missed the ferry. It immediately becomes clear that Mia and Amber do not take to each other and what follows is a power struggle between the two girls, to be the reigning popular girl on the island. Soon, however, the viewers and Mia come to figure that there is more to Amber than meets the eye. She is always cool and collected, with an almost robotic quality in which she sees and reacts to the world.
Mia slowly loses the power struggle, after all, it would be quite difficult to compete with Amber's mind-control games. With her psychic abilities, Amber becomes the queen of gaslighting, blaming Mia for things she did not do and this causes the others to turn on her. The exception is Alex (played by Rosie Dwyer), another camper who identifies as gender-queer. Alex, whose sarcastic wit is sharper than that of Mia's, has no interest in the popularity contest between Mia and Amber. Slowly, however, Alex is pulled into the strange occurrences on the island such as the sounds of a girl crying coming from an unspecified location, cracks that go through the earth, and human teeth that seemingly grew on trees. And so, the unlikely pair of Alex and Mia start working together to figure out what could be happening on the island and with Amber.
Slowly, to some of the characters, it becomes clear that all of them - except Amber- have been to the island before. With flashbacks that show that Mia and Dev (the boy caught in between Mia's and Amber's power struggle) were indeed together. But for some reason, no one remembers the last time they were on the island or their previous friendships. As Mia desperately tries to call home to leave the island, she discovers something else - Peregrine Island was in fact shut down after a girl died the previous year. From here, the story takes a completely different turn.
The show is filled with pop culture references, especially to 'Mean Girls'. Mia is not the typical girl you will find yourself rooting for. From the outset, 'The A List' is pretty much like every other teen drama you have seen, particularly Netflix's 'The Society' which dropped earlier this year. What sets the show apart for one is the setting. Shot in remote locations in the Scottish highlands, all the action is outdoors giving the drama an extra creepy effect. Moreover, the show is vastly different from other shows about teenagers these days in that the characters are not mired in sex or drugs or alcohol making the show appropriate for younger audiences as well. While the pacing may be found to be uneven by some, it picks up in the second half of the show.
The season finale ends on a cliffhanger. And while BBC never gave the thumbs-up for a second season, the show might see a different fate, being part of the Netflix family now. If the show does come back for a second season, there would newer and perhaps badder villains for the campers to deal with.