Panic season 1 review – a new YA series where the possibilities are endless

By Daniel Hart
Published: May 28, 2021 (Last updated: December 30, 2023)
Previous ArticleView all
Amazon Original Panic season 1


Panic manages to balance the concept with teen tropes without betraying it.

This review of Amazon Original Panic season 1 contains no spoilers — the series will be released on the streaming service on May 28, 2021.

From the first episode, what I truly liked about Panic is this urgent need to leave the town. The story makes the rural town feel forgotten, where the rich and poor divide is abundantly clear; the poor stay whereas the rich leave and conquer their dreams. That social observation can be viewed in the constructs of our own society — where a less privileged individual has to work harder to head to their favorite university, taking on plenty of jobs to stack up the cash.

Another element to be enjoyed is that Amazon’s Panic is created by the author who published the novel of the same name. If you cast back to Before I Fallwe have to wonder if the feedback generated from that film swayed Lauren’s insistence to be involved in this original series project.

The strength of Panic derives from the first episode; following lead character Heather Nill (played by Olivia Welch), we learn that she is desperate to leave Carp, Texas, and has strived to save money from a broken home. Whispers circle the town and reach the ears of the audience — a game no one knows who invented called Panic; where graduating teenagers unnecessarily risk their lives and face their strongest fears — the winner receives life-changing money.

While Panic feels like the usual YA drama series, it is easy to be consumed by the base of the story, which builds up the occasion to the first challenge. I found myself feeling exhilarated by the opening chapter. As a result, I felt impressively sold to, giving me confidence that Lauren’s writing influence has made its stamp on the cast.

It’s not all about the challenges, though the series will lead you to believe that it will be a chapter-by-chapter account of what the teens face; circling Heather, her family, friends, acquaintances, and enemies is a heavy set of issues that slowly create a whole host of leading characters. It’s the typical teen drama, but the series never feels weighed down by teenagers dismantled by coming-of-age tropes. Panic manages to balance the concept with teen tropes without betraying it, and there is a spark left behind where season 1 teases how it could juice a continuation. I certainly would not grumble.

Panic appreciates that being young means your head is likely to be filled with toxicity and remaining hope; from first loves, dysfunctional homes, and strayed best friends become the core build-up to your personality and identity. Being young means first betrayals, losing virginities, and looking at your parent’s eyes for the first time, knowing who they truly are. Again, credit can be attached to the writing for truly articulating these issues correctly.

While many critics will bemoan the generic tropes, what cannot be ignored is an invested cast, demonstrating that there’s a purpose to YA stories. They are not designed to adhere to grandstanding drama. What’s important is the characters experiences, and what their emotion means for them and their audience. While some plots conflict and confuse, I imagine a series like Panic will truly resonate with young people and allow them to attach to their favorite character—a notion many critics did not understand with 13 Reasons Why. 

Panic could easily transform into many stories, past and present; with the “no knows who invented the game” by line, the possibilities remain endless.

Amazon Prime Video, TV Reviews
Previous ArticleView all