The Wilds Creator And Showrunner Discuss The Daunting Decision To Introduce Boys [Interview]

"The Wilds" is a coming-of-age story with a special twist: The eight lead characters are stranded on a deserted island as part of an insanely devised social experiment. Minus the whole fighting for survival detail, the first 10-episodes of the show are very focused on the teenage girls at its center: Who were they back in the real world, and what led them to board the plane? Over the course of the first season, both flashbacks and the relationships they build on the island reveal them to be a compelling bunch of individuals, with a range of stories to share. Forced together, they grow in ways they never could've foreseen.

The thriller element of the series is certainly enticing — the conspiracy of it all goes deep, and the show slowly lets us in on the people behind the terrible experiment — but the real appeal is the journey of the girls, as they learn to build a life for themselves in the middle of nowhere. Renewed for a second season, series creator Sarah Streicher ("Daredevil," "Turning Red") and executive producer/showrunner/writer Amy B. Harris ("Sex and the City") decided to shake things up by complicating the status quo. The second season introduces a new ensemble of characters, whose stories become a crucial facet in the next chapter: The puppet-master behind the experiment, Gretchen Klein, has arranged more than one group of teenagers on a remote island. Separate from the girls are a group of boys that she dubs the Twilight of Adams. They're meant to be a counterpart to the girls, who are the Dawn of Eve. This means getting the audience invested in eight new teens and watching yet another survival tale unfold. /Film spoke to Streicher and Harris about all that went into their decision, and how they approached this big change.

'The onus was on me to make them as human and complex and rich and flawed as possible'

So, the first season is really digging into these eight girls on the island and their backstories and the flash-forwards. And then in season 2 we're doing all that, but we have this new element of the Twilight of Adam boys. What was it like to make that big addition of eight new characters and new storylines?

Both: Daunting.

Streicher: [laughs] Daunting, indeed. I spent so much time with creating those women. The onus was on me to make them as human and complex and rich and flawed as possible. The mortal sin is in characterization. And so, having to do that again with that bar set high was enormously daunting. I also know that among the fandom there's some worry and pushback about the addition of the men. I hear that so deeply and I understand that. But what I like about what we've done, and what I'm excited about, is that the women are the primary actors in this environment. It's sort of like they're the forefront, they're the pioneers, and then the guys are this counterpoint. So usually, it's the other way around — you have the male experience and then the female counterpoint. So it's exciting that we've flipped it a bit on that angle.

Harris: Yeah, I think for us, from a production standpoint, casting eight new people after such a beautiful, really specific cast was built for the first season, that was a huge challenge for us and one where I felt like if we didn't nail it ... I never said this to Sarah, but I was like, "We might have to abandon it if we don't find those male actors to do this," because to do a disservice to the first season [wasn't what we wanted]. And luckily, we have a brilliant casting director, and the right people came and the alchemy was there. So it was pretty exciting.

I'm curious about that counterpoint idea that you brought up, because I know we know that Gretchen's goal is for the boys to fail and prove her right. But for you, what was the goal from a storytelling perspective?

Harris: Well, I think the most exciting thing for me was that because the girls had already gone through it, we could skip a lot of the expositional steps because the audience was already there. So the plane crash, they knew that's what happened, they knew there was somebody set them up. So on the one hand we didn't have the same mystery of, "Why are these girls on a stranded island and what seems weird?" and then the reveal of Gretchen. But what made it so exciting is because there was that shorthand, we could really show the difference between how the boys' and girls' islands dealt with things.

So we know the girls did this for water or for sustenance, and now we're watching in a counterpoint kind of way — the way Sarah said — how the boys are doing it. So for me, that was exciting. That we're watching them in relation to the girls, as opposed to the girls where we were just in their experiences. I think that was very important to us and I think that's kind of Gretchen's goal, too, is that she's watching to see and she's crossed fingers that they're doing it badly and the girls do it better. So we sort of tried to be in Gretchen's eyes when we started setting up how we would experience the boy's island.

Season 2 of "The Wilds" is now streaming on Prime Video.