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Consider This Brunch: How ‘Yellowjackets’ Delivered Women as ‘Despicable’ as Walter White and Don Draper

Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, and more of the stars and creators of TV's buzziest show joined IndieWire for a can't-miss panel.

Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Christina Ricci and Juliette Lewis at the IndieWire Consider This FYC Brunch

John Salangsang for IndieWire

If there’s one show that TV junkies can’t stop talking about these days, it’s “Yellowjackets.” The Showtime hit about a high school girls’ soccer team surviving in the wilderness after a plane crash kept fans on the edge of their seats with its mystery-filled mythology, spawning plenty of online fan theories in the process.

The show was quickly renewed for a second season, but fans remain as anxious as ever to have their questions answered about the buzzy series. To help with that, some of the show’s cast and creative team sat down with IndieWire editor-in-chief Dana Harris-Bridson for a panel at IndieWire’s Consider ThisFYC Brunch. The panel included co-creators Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, executive producer Jonathan Lisco, and stars Melanie Lynskey, Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, and Tawny Cypress.

Sure, the mysteries of the show are compelling. But what really sticks with you is how authentic and real its characters are: women who are allowed to be as complicated and messy, neither heroes nor villains, as many of the beloved male characters of this second Golden Age of TV.

“[Nickerson and I] developed this script when working on ‘Narcos,’ and that was so steeped in machismo, I think we wanted to go in completely the opposite direction,” Lyle said. “We’ve gotten so good at showing complicated male characters who are despicable, your Don Drapers, your Walter Whites, but it’s still rare to see women in a similar light.”

For the actors, such an approach was part relief, part excitement. “For decades I played women who carry a gun and chase down bad guys, or just look pretty,” Cypress said. “So to play a character that’s so multi-dimensional, so broken, and so human…” Her character, Taissa, is a politician who left her high-paying corporate job to run for state senate in New Jersey. To carry into the public the infamy of her 19 months stranded in the woods after a plane crash when she was a teenager is a huge weight.

“This was a show that showed so many versions of being a woman, and being a woman under duress, and the different ways we deal with our trauma and rage,” Christina Ricci said. “I had never had a chance to play a very passive aggressive character, and I was excited to see that in a show and potentially play that.”

The same goes for the teenage versions of these characters.

“None of them were two-dimensional girls,” Lynskey said of the characters on the page. “They were all really complex. And I hadn’t seen teenage girls written that way.”

As for what’s ahead for Season 2, cast and showrunners alike are keeping mum. Said Ricci, “I want to get good at this surprise shit.”

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