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“The Society:” Netflix Teen Drama Challenges a World Without Adults

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The Society

Courtesy Netflix

“The Society,” directed by Christopher Keyser, is a one-season, Mystery and Teen Drama, Netflix original show containing a teenage-based cast. Students of West Ham High School prepare for an extended camping trip at the Smokey Mountains as their parents send them off on school buses, but a storm and road closure forces the bus drivers to return them back to their high school. With their return comes a lot of confusion: not a single parent is there waiting, no one is answering phone calls, students’ houses remain completely empty, and both exits out of West Ham do not exist anymore. Only the West Ham students remain in their town, no one else in sight.

They quickly learn that their parents are the people that keep things in order around town, as well as the fact that leaving a bunch of high schoolers in charge of running a town has its complications. They come to realize that they are going to have to keep calm and provide for themselves while they figure out what happened to their parents and what their next steps are.

The setting remains in the town of West Ham, Connecticut, and the mood remains mysterious, suspenseful, and deceiving throughout the season’s ten episodes. The stars include Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon, Sean Berdy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Jacques Colimon, Olivia DeJonge, and Alex Fitzalan.

Director and Showrunner Christopher Keyser is best known for his television series’ “The Society” and the 1994 original Fox series “Party of Five.” He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and was involved in theatre during his last two years at Harvard College. However, Keyser’s focus during law school became screenwriting, and he eventually ended up writing and producing the hit shows “Sisters” and “Eddie Dodd” in 1991 with his writing partner Amy Lippman.

“The Society” provides a new type of creativity and breaks new ground in the fact that the entire cast, with the exception of the parents in solely less than 10 minutes of the first episode, is made up of teenagers. This makes the show unpredictable because it highlights in every episode that teenagers do whatever they want; anything can happen.

I personally can say that I have yet to see a television show or movie that does not contain adult stars, or even characters in general for that matter. This assists the target audience of teenagers and young adults in valuing the show more than they previously thought they would because it shows that a solid show can be provided with the use of only teens.

The script is very compelling; the actors consistently stress the fact that what they are going through makes absolutely no sense, and they make you engage in the show more and more each episode because the viewers find themselves feeling the same emotions that the characters are feeling. There was never a point where I questioned the acting or thought that the script was dramatic. The events that occur during this show call for being dramatic, and they make you feel as if you’re doing it wrong if you’re not being dramatic.

The characters also challenge the stereotype that “kids can’t live without their parents.” One character steps up and announces to the rest of the students that their parents are not there to baby them anymore, and until they can find them, they have to start acting like adults, taking initiative, and looking out for one another. The thing is, not everyone wants to follow that rule, which is what keeps the audiences on their toes wondering what will happen next.

Some characters have one view of the way things should be run, and other characters have a totally different view of the way things should be handled. And these characters are all willing to fight for what they want, which causes a load of problems. Both the setting and time are evident to the audience because all of this happens on just another normal day; no one sees it coming.

At the beginning of the show, it seems that Cassandra (Rachel Keller) is the star of the show, but later in the season we realize that her younger sister, Allie (Kathryn Newton), is in fact the main star of the show. Kathryn Newton does an amazing job of bringing the character to life and making the audience believe that she is not even acting; I watch her act and do not even think about the fact that none of it is real. She reals you in as a viewer and makes you believe that everything that is happening is, in fact, happening to her, and not her character. She makes you feel for her and brings all of the emotions that spiral throughout the show to life. Allie is an evident character to the storyline and plot, and without her, I honestly do not think that the show would have gone anywhere.

The town of Lancaster is the primary setting of the show, and filming also occura in Devens, the home of New England Studios. The format of the show is a 60-minute drama, and it is only available on Netflix (as it is a Netflix original). “The Society” also contains shots from filming in Ayer, Bolton, Carlisle, Concord, Grafton, Groton, Harvard, Lexington, and Sterling. It is rated TV-MA and has been renewed for a second season that was supposed to be released this May, but the release date has been pushed back indefinitely.

A few shows that I find to have a similar plot are “The Walking Dead,” “Lost” and “The 100,” because all of them follow the storyline of “we’re the only ones left, and we have to provide for ourselves.”

The point of this show is not only to entertain and provide for Netflix subscribers, but to also send the message to its target audience that anything is possible and that you can do anything you set your mind to. It’s a quick season that is well worth watching/binging; I started the first episode one day and found myself on the last episode on that same day. Oops.

They leave the viewers with a confusing cliffhanger that makes you absolutely desperate for that second season because you just want to know what happens so badly.

I cannot think of anything that I would want improved in the next season, but I do know that I cannot wait to see how the new takeover of the town will go, and especially, what happened to the parents.

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