Wilderness Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, they say and have said for a long time now. This is not quite true. Generally speaking, hell hath no fury like a man thwarted in even the most minor way from achieving any goal. I admit this has neither the same ring to it nor much power to advance the patriarchy, so I shall not insist upon its adoption in the service of mere truth. But! It does make a story built round righteous female fury a refreshingly fun rather than grimly realistic endeavour.
So then, to Wilderness – a six-episode adaptation by Marnie Dickens of BE Jones’s thriller of the same name, starring Jenna Coleman and Oliver Jackson-Cohen as newlyweds Liv and Will Taylor who do not get to revel in marital bliss for long. This is because Liv discovers, shortly after leaving her job, friends and family to relocate to New York for Will’s career, that he has been sticking it to a woman called Cara (Ashley Benson) on the regular. After the initial shock subsides and Will organises an epic trip through the US national parks that Liv has always wanted to take, she resolves to push him off the edge of the Grand Canyon. Video evidence of the carnal knowledge shared by Will and Cara is provided beforehand to put aside any questions the viewer may have about whether the final twist is going to be that Liv was paranoid all along and Will has been splatted for no good reason.
Wilderness is not about subtlety. It is about the most ancient form of entertainment – revenge and catharsis. The former must be thwarted at first, of course, and so it is for Liv. She is interrupted at the Grand Canyon by another tourist, can’t stave his head in with a brick on a hike because of the incriminating splatter it will leave, and an attempt to sabotage his equipment when they go white-water rafting backfires and he ends up saving her from the deep. At this point, Liv decides to give marriage a second chance. Maybe living well is the best revenge? Then she overhears him on the phone to Cara again and decides that, no, the original murder-made-to-look-like-an-accident thing is the one to beat.
Shifting around beneath the action are a lot of on-message messages about female oppression, and the social conditioning of girls and women into pretending all is well, however bad things get. Liv’s childhood was spent smiling through her parents’ volatile marriage and the misery caused by her father’s affairs. Her mother Caryl (Claire Rushbrook) still hasn’t moved on – she is busy stalking her now ex-husband and his new partner (“wearing a two-piece! After all those kids!”) online – and Liv is determined not to follow the same path. Many would turn to therapy, but that would be a very different show.
No, it’s murder or nothing for Liv. She must negotiate all the obstacles that fate puts in her way – including, in episode two, a supposedly chance meeting with Cara and her now boyfriend Garth (Eric Balfour) in the woods and a burgeoning friendship between the two women. Cara has bought wholly into femininity’s rules and crippling constraints and arouses an unwanted sympathy in Liv that looks briefly as if it could turn the show into a joint-revenge buddy movie. This is looking unlikely again by the end of the two episodes that were available for review, but I shall keep the hope alive that those gals throw off their feminine shackles together by the end and gallop off into the sunset in comfortable shoes.
It is all solid, satisfying and glossily good-looking stuff. It knows what it’s doing and the script is well above simply serviceable level. Dickens is especially good at barbed conversations between frenemies, and the pitch-perfect passive-aggression of Caryl towards her daughter is a joy to behold – though not for Liv, obviously. Coleman is terrific, as ever – and I wish her a long and happy Suranne Jones-esque career. Jackson-Cohen is great too, with Dickens taking care not to make Will such an out-and-out rotter that we don’t root for their second chance. But not such a non-rotter that we won’t look forward to his death when he betrays us – I mean, Liv – yet again.
Wilderness is fun. It’s not going to change the world. And that’s OK. Fun is fine. Fun is rare. Fun is more than enough.