Showtime’s hit drama Yellowjackets is a multi-generational story that touches on hints of cannibalism and the supernatural. For co-creator Ashley Lyle, it’s a universal tale of flawed women. The show tells parallel stories about a high school soccer team surviving after a plane crash in 1996, and the survivors as adults in the present.
“Our goal was to take this high concept that would suck people in and use it to disguise our story about f*cked up women,” Lyle said on a Deadline Contenders panel on Saturday at Paramount Studios.
As grown-up survivor Shauna, Melanie Lynskey said we’ve only seen the beginning of her character’s unraveling. Shauna embarked on an affair and killed a rabbit in Season 1. Lynskey also said she was ready to take a break after having a baby but Yellowjackets was too good to pass up.
“I love that I’m playing someone who on the surface is an ordinary housewife, and then goes in so many directions,” Lynskey said. “There’s still so much further to go. I feel like the first strand of wool has been pulled out on Shauna and there’s so much more to do.”
Tawny Cypress plays grown-up Taissa who is now a political candidate. She sees the dark potential in the show’s 1996 flashbacks, too.
“I read it and I saw the horror elements in the pilot episode,” Cypress said. “I’m such a horror fan I just thought, ‘God, it would be such a dream to be able to do something like this.’ Not only to represent Jersey and also the trauma of the characters she was just so fleshed out. Then the horror elements on top of it was too much to bare.”
Karyn Kusama directed the pilot for Yellowjackets. In conjunction with creators Lyle and Bart Nickerson, Kusama set the template for balancing the show’s two timelines.
“We were hoping that the effect of the time slips were almost imperceptible,” Kusama said. “The message, in a way, of the series was if you don’t process the past, it carries into the present with you. So the idea was that we were almost seamlessly moving between those two timeframes. I feel like we spoke about that creatively quite early.”
Lyle didn’t want to use any cliches like filters on the 1996 scenes. Her hope is that viewers follow both storylines with equal investment.
“Both storylines are in the present tense,” Lyle said. “They’re sort of unfolding in tandem. Obviously, there’s the actual chronology of the story but for these characters, they’re unfolding simultaneously. I’m hopeful that we’ve created a show where both timelines are equally compelling.”
Showtime has renewed Yellowjackets for a second season.
Check out the panel video above.
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