While in Vancouver to film Yellowjackets, actors Jasmin Savoy Brown and Tawny Cypress visited a park to practice eating dirt. In the Showtime series, the two actors portray the same character, the smart, self-possessed, and cruelly pragmatic Taissa, at two different times in her life. So they consulted with each other to make sure their depictions shared some of the little details about behaviors that tend to continue over the years, such as whether someone pronounces “either” as “ee-ther” or “eye-ther. . ” But getting to grips with other parts of their performances required more practical work – hence the trip to the park. The dirt-eating approach they landed on finds Taissa crouched, scary and wild. “Arms slightly forward and drooping,” Brown told Jezebel about the stance. “It’s very expensive, very dirty, very aggressive.”
“I think we have some strange looks,” she added.
During its first season, which ends with Sunday’s finale, buzz around Yellowjackets has risen to a dull roar. Series, created of the married producing team of Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, tells the story of a high school football team stranded in the woods in 1996 after the plane transporting them to compatriots crashed. Each episode alternates in time between the immediate aftermath of the crash and the lives of the survivors in today’s medieval. Even on paper, the show sounds like a hit that directly intervenes in the nostalgia of the 90s and stars in its cast Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis, who were among the most memorable young stars of the decade. Which means the actors playing the Yellowjackets from the ’90s had a hard job to perform: not only did they serve as credible approaches to beloved artists, whose versions around 1996 are largely still alive in the viewers’ memory, but they also had to create performances that could stand alone.
It helps that the series was one of last year’s best written shows. Yellowjackets opens with a murder as an unidentifiable girl tries (and fails) to escape creepy, animal-skin-chased pursuers through a snow-covered wilderness. The rest of the season bounces back and forth between the prologue to and aftermath of the bloody ritualized killing, and, it is suggested, the accompanying cannibal party. In the 1996 timeline, team members struggle with the normal struggles found on the border between childhood and adulthood – romances, rivalries and college plans – first on the football field and by keggers and then in the woods where the threat is. of exposure and hunger only contribute to their ailments. Twenty-five years later, they are still struggling with the consequences of their mysterious and traumatic 19 months in the wild, which manifest themselves in each survivor’s life in different and alarming ways, from Natalie’s drug abuse to Shauna’s glimpses of violence to Taissa’s sleepwalker attacks. of dirt eating.
The series was filmed in and around Vancouver, with its older cast filming their scenes in the suburbs for one week at a time, with the younger Yellowjackets filming in the woods the following week. And because few of the stars were told all the twists and turns of the mystery series before receiving their scripts, they were often unsure of what was to come to the characters.
“I will never forget the first day I got on the set and saw the plane crash,” said Samantha Hanratty, who plays Misty in the 90s timeline. “It went from being a bit like ‘Wow, it’s so cool’ to very surreal and very anxious for me personally, just watching the wreck … it was really, really intense at first.”
During the season, teens discover that the social hierarchies of their normal lives are not fully instilled in their new world of crisis. Shauna, longtime sidekick to the team Queen Bee Jackie experiences that her share rises as her best friend falls, as the influence in the group shifts to a perhaps confused, perhaps psychic girl named Lottie (Courtney Eaton), who like Jackie (Ella Purnell) is not yet surfaced. on the show in adulthood.
For Misty, whose previous participation in the Red Cross’ babysitting training program elevates her to team doctor after the crash, the stay in the woods seems to set in motion tendencies to violence and revenge. In today’s sequences, Christina Ricci gives a funny performance as an adult Misty, whose psychopathy is in full bloom, an Annie Wilkes-style nurse holding a pet named Caligula, and whose devotion may include tampering with your house and sabotaging your car. Hanratty’s earlier bid for the character is both more innocent and more reactive. “Even though our characters are obviously the same person, we also play things very differently,” she said. “My stuff in the nineties is based on the fact that she did not also know how to manipulate and her sense of power for the first time in her life.”
While the crash gives Misty newfound authority (especially over Steven Kreuger’s poor assistant coach Ben, the only adult survivor who loses his leg in the accident and becomes the first in a long line of Misty’s patient victims), other characters are left to fight. with a powerlessness that is at times even more frightening than the hunger they face. In a show filled with shredding, murder and amputations, one of the most shocking scenes finds a pregnant Shauna making an unsuccessful attempt to give herself an abortion with the help of a brace and her friend Taissa.
“I think Jasmin and I somehow felt a responsibility with everything that was going on – abortion laws and everything – to shed light on that topic and do it in a respectful way,” said Sophie Nélisse, the actress, playing teenager Shauna. “We talked to doctors to know exactly what would happen … to make it look as realistic as possible.” Shauna is far from the first character on television to consider an abortion and change her mind at the last minute, but it is remarkable that she does not shy away from the procedure itself. She yields instead to the dangerous and terribly painful circumstances under which she is forced to go through it, which separates the scene.
As The 90s crew spends most of their time in the woods, many of the usual time TV markers are out of reach. They can not see Ignorant on VHS or tools around Ford Explorers; the batteries die early in their tape player, and if the team wants to hear their favorite songs, they have to sing them. But using his much praised the needle falls, the show still shows a perfectly stinging 90s nostalgia. Even though even the oldest members of the ’96 cast are too young to have anything but faint memories of the real 1996, that does not mean they are not familiar with the show’s pop culture milieu.
Sophie Thatcher, who plays Natalie, arrived in the role, which is already imbued with the cultural world of her character. (She already came in with her shaggy mullet, which would become Nat’s signature style.) “A lot of the music on the show I listened to in high school,” she said. “I was a really big Mazzy Star fan for a while, with just like the first heartache and everything.” But in the end, she’s still 21 years old, and there are some things that are hard for even the most committed music lovers to tackle without a little first-hand experience. When a flashback scene prompted Natalie to play a Dinosaur Jr. tape, Thatcher needed a hand that actually used the cassette player.
“It was so embarrassing,” she said. “I was so scared to ruin it because I did not think they had doubles for the Dinosaur Jr. tape. I thought, ‘Someone help me!'” Showrunner Ashley Lyle came to her aid, which got Lyle when she told that New York Times, “feel really old.”
There is something infinitely interesting about seeing the same person in childhood and adulthood, whether the person is real (just take the magnificent 7 Op documentary series) or fictional. It’s a structure that attracts enough that this is not even Ricci’s first appearance in a similar project – in 1995 she played Rosie O’Donnell’s younger counterpart in Now and then. Childhood holds all possibilities in the world, and adulthood, no matter how successful or happy, represents shielded possibilities: the girl has a thousand doors in front of her, the woman has only entered one. In one of Yellowjackets’ best scenes, Tawny Cypress’s Taissa and Melanie Lynskey’s Shauna imagine the future they could have had if not for the plane crash. Shauna, who married her high school sweetheart and is now a frustrated housewife in New Jersey, had planned to go to Brown University, go on dates with artists and study abroad in France.
“Well, I was going to Howard, pre-law, with a dual major in history and philosophy, dating a bunch of beautiful women, making the first string on the football team and graduating first in my class,” Taissa said. “And then I was going to Columbia Law and land an internship at one of the biggest companies in town.”
When Shauna points out that Taissa reached all these lofty goals, Taissa replies, “Yes. But to be honest, not a single one of those things felt real.”
Yellowjackets is one of the best versions of TV trauma plot, but often seems less preoccupied with the particular nightmare of the characters’ ordeals than it is with the horror that is the passage of time. It highlights the pain of both youthful dreams and the realities of adults. It makes it clear that given their older counterparts’ propensity for violence, deception, and self-hatred, many of the younger Yellowjackets will do all the wrong things. Looking at the actors on the 1996 timeline, one can not help but think that they might find their way away from the desperate path that their characters have actually already gone in the reality of the series.
Last month, Showtime announced it Yellowjackets was renewed for another season, but due to the series’ tight approach to its many mysteries, the actors do not yet know much about what may be in store for their characters as they continue to reckon with the desert and each other. “I actually want more characters to die,” Nélisse said. “Because it’s realistic first and foremost.” After all, they are stranded on the edge of winter, and when she is asked to imagine her own fate as a Yellowjacket, she is no longer optimistic.
“In the end, I would probably die over some stupid thing. I would eat the poisonous mushroom. I would think, ‘It looks beautiful,'” she said, “and die right away.”