REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (ALL EPISODES) | WHERE TO WATCH: NETFLIX
The Society is a compelling, haunting drama that is really all about power. The power of nature, parallel universes, leadership, truth and toxic manhood. At first it doesn’t shirk off the inevitable character tropes of a high school setting, and some episodes feel tonally off, but on the whole, this is a thought-provoking show that will leave you begging for a happy ending…
Some high schoolers leave their sleepy little town for a school trip. When they return unexpectedly soon, they find that every single other person in the town has vanished, and they can only call each other. All connection to the outside world is lost. In fact, there seems to be no outside world at all. Just miles of thick forest. As it becomes clear that this is now a fight for survival, the students have to adapt to their new lives while making sure that their new way of living isn’t torn apart from the inside. Easier said than done when the script is complete with its quota of stuck up kids, crass sports lads, and psychopaths - all of whom want a say in how things are run.
The set up showcases some typical character types, which in the mundanity of the early stages can be off-putting (although the diversity of the cast is impressive and bears impact on the story). Once the gravity of the situation becomes clearer however, the show becomes truly gripping. Those characters that are the most paranoid start to come across as the most reasonable. Throughout the dystopian isolation enforced on the characters, there are comments on everything from gun use to hyper-masculinity that makes this off-world experience feel very much like a reflection of reality, exacerbated as if to highlight its flaws.
With well over a hundred students, the show focuses on a small selection of main characters. You struggle to keep track of them all - there is only one name you will remember for sure, and that character doesn’t last very long. They are all however important, and brought to life with real conviction by a phenomenal cast. They bring sophisticated dialogue and dangerous situations to life through their efforts. The relationships between them normally avoids dreary unpredictability, fuelling the story as tensions ascend to boiling point.
The galactic aspects of the show do not get touched on as much as you might like, but The Society is as significant and dramatic as anything Netflix has to offer. The show does not make the mistake of letting its interesting premise do the work, offering plenty in the way of clever writing and sensational acting to ensure this tense drama leaves a lasting impact.