Review: The Society

Fresh from Party of Five creator Christopher Keyser, Netflix’s newest series is a seductive teen drama asking big questions.

RAT­ING: 3.5÷5

As much a polit­i­cal dra­ma as it is an exam­i­na­tion of class, pow­er dynam­ics and social sta­tus, Netflix’s newest teen thriller taps into the weighty issues faced by a younger gen­er­a­tion with an appetite for change. From the unsta­ble polit­i­cal cli­mate we live in, to themes of pow­er, tox­ic mas­culin­i­ty, and moral­i­ty, The Soci­ety has it all – set to the angsty sounds of Bil­lie Eilish.

Like many plots before (Lord of the Flies, The 100, Lost), Christo­pher Keyser’s dra­ma cen­tres around sur­vival. A group of high school kids return from a school trip to find them­selves mys­te­ri­ous­ly trapped in a fac­sim­i­le of their wealthy Con­necti­cut town. It’s famil­iar ter­ri­to­ry, except every­one else has dis­ap­peared, all roads and bridges lead to a dead end, there’s no inter­net sig­nal, and the teenagers need to fig­ure out what the hell is going on. It’s sur­vival of the fittest, under thrilling and dan­ger­ous cir­cum­stances (once you dis­re­gard the idea of find­ing out where the town’s adults have actu­al­ly gone). 

As the char­ac­ters form alliances, the usu­al relat­able Amer­i­can teen tropes become clear, from jocks to lon­ers, to the­atre kids and nerds. Stand­outs come in the form of Cas­san­dra (Legions Rachel Keller), who steps up to lead the 200 lost teens with her vision of a social­ist soci­ety; her younger sis­ter Allie (Kathryn New­ton, of Big Lit­tle Lies), who hav­ing always lived in the shad­ow of her sis­ter is soon forced to assume the lead; and Camp­bell (Toby Wal­lace), a twist­ed teen with psy­cho­path­ic tendencies.

But it’s more than just a char­ac­ter-led dra­ma once you get through the first two 60-minute episodes. Through this ensem­ble of young per­son­al­i­ties act­ing on intu­ition rather than lived expe­ri­ence, Keyser cov­ers every­thing from pre­scrip­tion drug addic­tion, a teenage preg­nan­cy and a series of love tri­an­gles, to issues of crim­i­nal jus­tice, domes­tic vio­lence, gun own­er­ship, shifts in gov­er­nance, ethics and the rule of law (although, for unknown rea­sons, clear­ly side­step­ping race).

As these char­ac­ters attempt to form a new civil­i­sa­tion, the hap­pen­ings with­in their social ecosys­tem will have you gripped. Ini­tial plot ques­tions aside, The Soci­ety is a seduc­tive teen dra­ma ask­ing sophis­ti­cat­ed ques­tions that will have you unex­pect­ed­ly hooked.

The Soci­ety is released on Net­flix on 10th May. 

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