Television

The Kids Are All Forgettable in Netflix's The Society

Pack of abandoned teens don’t seem to care what happened, and neither will you.

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The Society. Available now on Netflix.

When the high school kids in the upscale New England town of West Ham head off on a field trip to a national park, it gets canceled halfway to the destination. When they arrive back home in the middle of the night, the town is empty. And, deprived of adult supervision for a full 10 minutes, the lot of them go all Lord of the FliesGrocery store potato-chip aisle looting! Peeing on walls! Water drunk right from the faucet! "Fuck" used as past perfect progressive! Teenagers quoting Christopher Durang plays! Poor Gen Z teens. They can't even go feral worth a damn.

I'm as happy as the next Baby Boomer to see an entire generation younger than mine witheringly dismissed as fools with the flick of an executive producer's cigarette holder. But can you really build an entire television show around a cri de coeur that today's teenagers, left to their own devices, would mix Spam with jalapenos?

It is the apparent conviction of The Society's creator-writer Christopher Keyser, whose eclectic resume includes L.A. Law, Party of Five and Tyrant, that you canand he's doing his level best to prove it.

The Society contains not a single interesting character or plot line. Its young cast is so unmemorable that it's impossible to recall which one is which. Is that girl the dancer with self-esteem issues or the one with the drunk mom? Is that the nice deaf boy or his crazy brother? And does it matter?

Spoiler alert: No. The kids spend their time either setting up elaborate motorized games of tag or embarking on truly impossible projects. (One goes to the now-abandoned town hospital's library to teach himself how to perform heart surgery on the hot student body president, who needs a bypass. Or maybe it was the girl who's the school's social queen bee?)

Either way, they show a remarkable indifference to their situation, or even the possible clues about what led to it. That weird stench that hung over the town on the day they left, for instance. "There's no reason to suspect that this stink poses any health hazard," the mayor had said at a city council meeting, his eyes pinwheeling so madly that you knew it was going to be the rotting viscera of disemboweled zombies marching toward West Ham.

Then there was the Hebrew inscription that turned up on the school gym just before they left on the field trip: Mene mene tekel upharsin, "you've been weighed in the balance and found wanting." Its most famous previous use as graffiti is in the Biblical book of Daniel, when it appears on the wall of the palace of the unrepentant tyrant Belshazzar shortly before he meets one of those inauspicious Old Testament fates. Are the kids caught up in some theological allegory?

Maybe so. "There's nothing around here to do but fucking think," complains one of them. OMG, they're in teen Hell.

NEXT: California Was Ready to Punish This Synagogue Shooter for Murder. The Feds Want to Make Sure He Is Also Punished for Hating Jews.

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  1. left to their own devices, would mix Spam with jalapenos?

    I knew we were doomed when they mixed avocados with toast.

  2. You’re not supposed to understand it, old fart.

  3. Maybe the adults and younger kids are all alive and well and the field trip wasn’t canceled, the bus crashed on the way there and the teen are the ones who are dead and they really are in “teen hell”.

    1. Lost already did that. Ugh.

  4. I would just assume Thanos heard a catchy song on the radio and started snapping his fingers.

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  6. The bus driver isn’t an adult?

    1. The bus driver isn’t an adult?

      The bus drivers drop the kids back in town and take off like bats out of hell. If there were any chaperones, they apparently stayed on the buses.

      Slight spoiler: All the roads out of town are discovered the next day to end in trackless forest. Where did the buses go? I’m almost halfway through the season and nobody seems to really care. I’m just watching it as sort of a learning exercise. I spend most of each episode wondering why nobody is trying to systematically investigate the many, many mysteries regarding their situation.

      That clearly wasn’t the focus of the creators. They want to make some Lord of the Flies type points about societal organization, law vs. chaos, etc. and are just waving their hands and shouting “Pay no attention to the flimsy justification behind the curtain!”

  7. Mene mene tekel upharsin,

    Not Hebrew. Perhaps Aramaic and nonsense there.

    1. Yeah, phonetically it’s:

      tə·qî·lə·tāh ḇə·mō·zan·yā wə·hiš·tə·ḵa·ḥat ḥas·sîr

      Hebrew:

      תְּקִ֥ילְתָּה בְמֹֽאזַנְיָ֖א וְהִשְׁתְּכַ֥חַתְּ חַסִּֽיר׃

      https://biblehub.com/interlinear/daniel/5-27.htm

      How hard would it have been for them to just use real Hebrew?

  8. So…” Wild in the Streets,” only with beer instead of hippie drugs? Talk about dystopia!

  9. Netflix is the opiate of the masses.

  10. The same generation that puts ranch dressing on pizza…
    You could probably make a fun drinking game out of how many times they say ‘like’.

  11. It seems like the premise is pretty weak and borders on a lot of overdone concepts (Under the Dome, Lost, the Leftovers, ect.) bogged down with a bunch of unnecessary teen drama. You can watch the first and last episode and skim through the middle and miss very little. In the 7th episode suddenly we’re made to think 6 months have gone by and virtually nothing has changed – only now that it’s apparently close to winter do they actually decide to venture beyond the town on a scouting mission. Netflix, I’m over your content.

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