You Must Watch ‘Yellowjackets,’ The Best New Show on TV

·7 min read
Brendan Meadows/Showtime
Brendan Meadows/Showtime

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week:

  • And Just Like That is bringing me so much joy. Don’t ruin it.

  • I am hereby forcing you to watch Yellowjackets.

  • Breaking news: I’m mad at Adele!

  • I will not disclose how much I cried watching PEN15’s last eps.

  • Yuletide greetings of beef.

Yellowjackets Is Getting So Much Buzz (Get It?)

It is (what I would consider) a national emergency that we are not all watching and talking about Yellowjackets.

This is a crisis. Write to your congressperson. Je téléphone à la police. DM Deuxmoi on Instagram. Raise awareness in any way you can. We must mobilize. It is our duty. Failure to do so would be a nuclear example of pop-culture negligence.

Friends, countrymen, Yellowjacket crusaders: I would fail you all if I were not transparent. It was with great shame that I admit that I only caught onto this series this week. Strip me naked and march me through the streets while the Game of Thrones lady rings the bell. That’s how despicable this behavior—this gross oversight—has been.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Showtime</div>
Showtime

Still, that means for me and, now, for you, there are four episodes of the Showtime drama available to watch, with a fifth coming on Sunday. And while everyone else is preoccupied with errant dick pics sent to mercurial fathers and whether or not a certain Al Pacino enthusiast’s character is going to die on that other show, you can obsess over what truly might be the most interesting (dare I say best?) show currently airing on TV.

This hype-up speech must carry with it a warning: There are moments in Yellowjackets so upsetting and gross I legitimately thought I was going to vomit. Do not—I repeat do not—choose this as the series to binge while laying in bed, febrile and shaking after receiving your vaccine booster. The dreams I had will haunt me forever.

But what’s cool (perhaps an inappropriate word) about a show that manages to be this disturbing and provocative is how, bear with me, fun and clever it is.

I feel crass saying that, and this is why: Yellowjackets flashes back and forth in time between today and the year 1996, 25 years ago. Then, the Yellowjackets were the star girls’ soccer team so good that they were going to nationals. A rich teammate’s father chartered a private plane to fly the teens there. The plane, however, crashes—depicted with harrowing realism—instantly killing some of the girls and leaving the rest stranded for, get this, 19 months.

What happened during that time is hinted at in flashbacks, detail by traumatizing detail. Impressive survival instincts and team work: Great! Some sort of Lord of the Flies-seeming cult: OK, maybe inevitable. Uh… cannibalism?!!

In the present, four of the survivors, played by Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis, Christina Ricci, and Tawny Cypress, have spent decades dealing with and burying the trauma. But with the 25th anniversary approaching, renewed media interest, and a mysterious person reaching out, seemingly knowing secrets that they all had sworn to keep, they must reunite again.

We don’t often get stories like this in a genre as savage and gripping as this told through a female lens, with an intense focus on female bonds and what happens when they unravel—what is truly the carnal feminine instinct? (My favorite description of the series comes from Lorraine Ali at the Los Angeles Times: “Spice Girls meets the Donner Party.”)

Anyway, this is a Public Service Announcement to begin watching Yellowjackets immediately.

Adele Breaking My Heart All Over Again

The music industry made its plans for next year and collectively decided on a public stance: “Omicron? Never heard of her.”

Oh the sheer number of tours and residencies that were announced last week are shocking, or thrilling. If you’ve been craving the live concert experience and feel safe attending, this is a long-awaited thrill. Olivia Rodrigo! Haim! Tame Impala! A John Legend Vegas residency!

Adele seemed to look at all of this as the opportunity to play a practical joke.

You see, the singer and subject of my last six therapy sessions announced that she, like Legend, would have a Vegas residency in lieu of a proper American tour. She offered fans to register for the opportunity to buy tickets before they’re open to the public and promptly sell out. The whole experience made you feel like a sure thing. It asked you not just which dates you’d like, but three backup dates. Clear my whole 2022 calendar, Queen. I’ll go anytime!

But then the invites went out to actually purchase tickets. This is not a scientific or exhaustive study, but it is as close to that as possible: I scrolled through Twitter for a few hours and saw every gay I know complaining that they were put on the waitlist. Read: None of us are getting Adele tickets.

<div class="inline-image__credit">Giphy</div>
Giphy

That does beg the question: Did anybody get them? Was this all a giant scam? Is Adele trolling us? Is this some sort of performance art, mimicking the devastation of her new album by raising our hopes and then killing all our dreams, en masse?

If you actually got Adele tickets, if such a person actually exists, I demand that you contact me. And then, obviously, take me with you.

Have You Given Thanks For PEN15 Today?

It is important that you know how absolutely perfect PEN15’s final season is, from the bat mitzvah episode in which a rich classmate belts her Hebrew prayers like a pop diva to the stand-alone outing devoted to Maya’s mother to the never-ending litany of gut punches in which these Y2K tweens realize just how valuable their friendship is to each other at the scariest and most formative times of their lives.

I am both bruised forever but, as a person who is exactly their same age forever working through the PTSD of that time, also healed.

The special point I want to make here is just how astounding Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle’s acting is. They co-created the show, write the episodes, and even direct. But beyond the physical transformations—Anna’s slouch is forever perfect, and uncanny—they channel the alarming and sudden shifts in extreme adolescent emotion, basically an orchestra of exploding geysers, with a delicate skill that has been undersung throughout the show’s run.

<div class="inline-image__credit">HULU</div>
HULU

There is a moment in the episode “Luminaria” where they are walking, seriously just walking, after talking to cute boys. The way in which they are falling over each other, hitting each other, and bouncing up and down, as if their limbs and bodies were now one awkward, intertwined entity, is exactly how girls that age use to physically interact with their best friends.

PEN15 was a gloriously unusual show: a time machine that makes you understand who you were then better, but also who you are today. Its last episodes are all up on Hulu and you should watch!

All I Want For Christmas Is Beef

<div class="inline-image__credit">Tenor/NobleDame</div>
Tenor/NobleDame

I received a press release this week from Omaha Steaks announcing that the company produced a new beef-themed holiday song just in time for Christmas, called “Deck the Steaks.”

Mariah Carey found shaking.

What to watch this week:

Red Rocket: Simon Rex runs around naked while NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” plays. Merry Christmas. (Now in theaters)

West Side Story: It’s magical. Enjoy 30 straight minutes of weeping. (Now in theaters)

And Just Like That: Seeing Carrie Bradshaw on TV only makes me stronger. (Now on HBO Max)

Being the Ricardos: It is in an extreme Ricky-is-exasperated voice that I announce I actually liked it. (Now in theaters)

What to skip this week:

Don’t Look Up: I genuinely had fun at this. I just don’t want to weather the discourse once it comes out. (Now in theaters)

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