Spoiler alert for 'The Society'
For a while now, Netflix has been really invested in creating young adult content. 'Stranger Things', 'The 100', 'The Innocents', '13 Reasons Why', 'Chilling Adventures of Sabrina', and 'The End of the F*cking World' are only a few of the many young adult series that the streaming platform is involved with.
However, as is the case with most young adult shows on television, many of the series kick off on a thrilling note and somewhere down the line they lose track of the original plotline before venturing into convoluted territories. Beginning with organic teenage issues such as pregnancy, drug use, bullying and assault, the stories fade out into shoddy portrayals of the very subjects whose foundations it is set on.
That, much our surprise, doesn't happen with 'The Society'.
When we started watching 'The Society' on Netflix, we were skeptical of the show being more than confident that it would fall prey to Netflix's ambition of taking over the young adult content scene. The series follows a group of high school students who find themselves mysteriously transported to a posh New England town without their parents. The kids, now left to their limited resources — material and mental both — must not only figure out how they can survive (by forming alliances) but also how to get back home.
In the beginning, this newfound power is proven detrimental to their survival as the lack of parental supervision spirals the teenagers into a frenzy. They party, drink and dance too much, stick to their closest friends forming groups, forbidding others, doing drugs, and generally make some really rash decisions.
Some peace is restored when Cassandra (played by Rachel Keller), a natural leader, decides to take charge. Despite being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, Cassandra is unfazed in the face of this adversity. But, after this, the series oscillates between "what will happen next" and "why isn't anything happening right now" till the first death of the series — Cassandra is shot twice and left to bleed to the sidewalk.
The story picks up pace rather impressively at this mark: when the formidable Allie, played by Kathryn Newton, takes charge after the death of her sister Cassandra.
This, right here, is a marvelous character arc from 'The Society'. Allie's rise as a leader, turning forces that were formerly against her into her allies, and coming out of the shadow of her elder sister all make her not only a strong character but a force to reckon with. She keeps the new society safe, makes rules, rations food and supplies, makes sure everyone is fed and also instated a committee that is investigating where, how and why they are where they are.
Allie's rise, obviously, doesn't always meet cheers — there is more jeering that cheering, actually. She is confronted with opposing forces in Harry (played by Alex Fitzalan). Rich and popular, Harry despises Cassandra and Allie — because why do they think they're queens now? — and believes he can do a better job. He resists sharing resources and, towards the end of the series, with the help of Cambell (played by Toby Wallace), overthrows Allie.
In a certain sense, speaking from a solely socio-political perspective, Allie represents communalism and Harry, capitalism. Lexie, who also wants to head the new society by running for mayor, appeases to the public interest — her points may be right, but they are only half right, which, in Allie's words, is far more dangerous.
While the teenagers deal with these larger group issues, they are also confronted with personal problems. Elle (played by Olivia DeJonge) struggles with domestic violence. Gideon Adlon's Becca is dealing with teenage pregnancy. And Grizz (played by Jack Mulhern) and Sam (Sean Berdy), who finally come to terms with their sexuality, are separated.
'The Society' remains true to its cause. Nowhere is the dynamic ruined by external forces — the group of actors work fluidly with one another and in their characters. The series is all set to take over Netflix's very popular 'Stranger Things' — one of their commendable young adult shows.
But here's the catch, even though 'The Society' is pegged as a young adult series, it takes it forward from there delving into complicated issues such as society, food rationing, and gun safety among others, without maligning the causes in the first place.
Drop the presumption that it is going to be a product you have consumed; 'The Society' is far better than that.
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