There is something about the tagline of the series Wilderness, that hooks you in right away. Women are very familiar with the line “Look what you made me do,” and we are not talking about the Taylor Swift song that is the soundtrack of the show. The burden of things going right is mostly placed on women, and the transgressions of men are often made out to be their fault. It is one of the many reasons women strive for perfection in their daily lives more than men, because they don’t want to be blamed for things that aren’t their fault. The tagline of Wilderness is a direct reminder of that since every woman has a lot of feelings attached to those words.
The first episode gives us the lay of the land, telling us the intentions of the characters and why they are the way they are. It helps that it is all set against beautiful backdrops, which somehow makes the mission of our protagonist far more edgy. Something that stands out in the series is that Will is the man we all know and have heard about. Liv is not the first woman to have faced something like what she did with Will, but why did she make the choices she did? It is the exploration of that which makes Wilderness so delicious.
In a lot of ways, this show is realistic in the way it shows how Liv was pushed over the edge, figuratively. She was shown as the “good girl,” and everyone is familiar with this template by now. What we liked was the development of her revenge. It wasn’t like a switch that just went off. Instead, there was some significant back and forth with her intentions and feelings, all of which boiled down to her deep-rooted conditioning. In a lot of ways, it was relieving to have it addressed for once.
Usually, while watching most films or series, we take the time to assess the necessity of their runtime. Did the series take itself too seriously? Were all bits absolutely necessary to keep the story interesting, or were the parts that were extra at least fun to watch? These are important questions to ask because, for the most part, the time that the audience takes out of their busy lives to commit to a show or a movie is often limited. It is important to assess whether this time was wasted or not. As we write this, we realize that more women should apply these very standards to men, as they do to their watchlist. We are making this very long point to say that Wilderness uses its time well. There is a lag in some places, but it is entirely forgivable, and we are not particularly considering it.
Coming to the rest of the story, something that strikes you immediately is that a lot of Liv’s monologues feel very “Gone Girl-esque.” And this slight comparison once again makes us wonder whether the two stories are more similar than we could have imagined. At the core of both of them is the question: did she have to go that far? And then you think of the men that these women were dealing with. Be it Will of Wilderness or “Nick” from Gone Girl, neither of them would ever understand why they needed to do better or, at the very least, apologize with sincerity. These men lived selfishly, and their entire viewpoint of their spouse was regarding the convenience she brought into their lives. They were deaf to everything else; therefore, Olivia Taylor and Amy Dunne had to make a lot of noise to get their point across.
That brings us to how Jenna Coleman was amazing in her role as the wronged wife seeking justice, but it was Oliver Jackson Cohen who stole the show so often as the husband who couldn’t understand why the world did not revolve around him and forgive his mistakes even after he apologized. There is a reason we said that we all know this man and understand him as much as we do Liv.
Wilderness is another addition to the long list of shows and movies being adapted from books. Going a little off-topic, we would like to say that it is almost as if studio heads are unable to come up with any fresh creative ideas on their own. We are happy that a lot of good books and authors are getting the recognition they deserve, but there is still a distinctive lack of originality in the TV world as of now.
Coming back to the series Wilderness, this show is a must-watch for anyone fascinated by stories of female rage. We recently came across a stand-up special by Michelle Wolf, titled It’s Great to be Here, where we observed how differently women’s anger presents itself than that of men’s. There is a culture of men expressing the bare minimum as a favor or reward for women going above and beyond for them, and this is so ingrained in society that women reject their feelings themselves as a self-regulatory mechanism. But this often means that the cycle of unhappiness is perpetuated. In the six-episode run of the show, we see the various facets of this, including its aftermath, from the perspective of the different women of the show. Some of them realize it, while some remain misguided, but it is there.
The female perspective is another striking aspect of Wilderness. This is not the first series to take that route, but it is certainly the first one to present it this way. It has taken time to showcase the confusion that comes with women trying to take charge of their own lives and stories. It is not an alien concept in our society, but despite plenty of evidence to support it, it can end up feeling like one because it isn’t talked about as much and because conditioning still wins on so many levels. The creative choice to explore these conflicting feelings is what sets Wilderness apart for us, and we would recommend it to everyone.