The Society Season 1 serves a conceptually interesting premise but is seen-before, and unfortunately, the writing is average and barely compelling.
Netflix Series The Society Season 1 follows a group of privileged teenagers in a wealthy town called West Ham that has been consumed by this terrible, mysterious smell. After a failed camping trip, they return to the town; the smell has gone and all the people, and more importantly, their parents, have disappeared, leaving all the teenagers to fend for themselves in a closed-off community, with no way of communicating with the outside world, and seemingly no way to return to their previous lives. Based on the premise, this sounds like a promising, dystopian drama, but it falls victim to the usual tropes of generic teenage issues.
That’s not to say the Netflix series is terrible; it’s okay. Unfortunately, The Society Season 1 wants to introduce the audience to too many characters. It reminds me fondly of the days of Lost, when the show writers decided that we needed knowledge of the fringe characters from the plane, but we don’t; a small group of characters is enough to focus on, but The Society tries to give you strings of stories, and it fails to keep up with all of them suitably in each chapter.
It’s clear who the leaders of the story are; for instance, in the first couple of chapters, we are introduced to Cassandra (Rachel Keller) and her sister Allie (Kathryn Newton), who inevitably have a knack for leadership. We also have sinister-looking Campbell (Toby Wallace) and bad-boy Harry (Alex Fitzalan) who is adjusting from being a wealthy boy to having to fend for himself in a world of rationing and no money. The Society Season 1 tries to form this ‘men vs women’ concept at the start, but then it quickly becomes about how to build a society with rules and processes led by an inexperienced set of teenagers who are not accustomed to governing.
The Society is undoubtedly dramatic, giving us various problems with relationships and the pressure of survival, but it fails to provide the narrative with an ultimate objective until very late on. The Netflix series feels like a good excuse for a teen drama, with the mystery of how they’ve ended up in an empty town waiting to be answered whenever the writers make an effort to include it in the story. Season 1 throws many teenage problems into the story as often as possible, diluting the concept altogether. Yes, it has that dystopian hook, but The Society would have benefitted from a more character-focused series, rather than banking on the audience wanting plenty of stories fudged into every single episode.
The Society Season 1 is worth your time, but it certainly is not worth a few nights bingeing. The first season is an excellent platform for stronger, future seasons, so it certainly shouldn’t be ignored just because of its rough start. That’s if Netflix decides not to cancel it. The streaming platforms are getting Film Twitter a little sensitive with business decisions of late. If you do choose to watch The Society, I did recap every single episode – you can read the first one by clicking these words.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.