One of the most talked-about new shows of 2021 has just received an early season 2 renewal.
Showtime announced on Thursday that it has renewed Yellowjackets for a sophomore run. Though the genre-bending thriller was picked up for another season just five episodes into its freshman run, the renewal news wasn’t really surprising, as the show launched to strong critical reviews and has been a ratings performer for the network since its debut. As of December 16th, the show has been seen by over 4 million viewers across multiple platforms.
“[Yellowjackets has] done extremely well in terms of streaming subscriptions,” Showtime’s President of Entertainment Gary Levine told Deadline. “It was our second biggest series debut ever on streaming, and it’s grown each week on streaming by double-digit percentages. In terms of acclaim, in terms of buzz – no pun intended — and in terms of hard numbers, this show has just exploded. For it to be embraced as quickly and as deeply as it was by both audiences and critics alike, that’s a little like catching lightning in a bottle — you can never anticipate that but boy, it’s awfully sweet when it rarely happens.”
Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, Yellowjackets stars Sophie Nélisse, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Sophie Thatcher, and Sammi Hanratty as four teenagers involved in a plane crash. In 1996, the quartet travels from New Jersey to Seattle for a national tournament with other members of their high school’s soccer team. While flying over Canada, the plane they are in crashed deep in the wilderness and they are left to survive for 19 months. The series chronicles their descent into madness and cannibalism while also tracking their current lives in 2021. In the present timeline, the characters are played by Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Juliette Lewis, and Christina Ricci.
Headlined by an ensemble of relatively new and experienced actresses, Yellowjackets brought back female audiences to Showtime, which the network previously attracted with its long-running hit series Shameless.
“I think in terms of the breadth of audience and its audience demographics, it probably is closest to Shameless in terms of its reach,” Levine said. “It’s probably no accident that both had characters in their teens and adult years. But I also think tone, there is an audacity and irreverence to both of those shows that I think has some inherent appeal to a broader range of demographics.”
In addition to Yellowjackets’ original story and outstanding acting performances, Dexter: New Blood, which airs right before Yellowjackets, has also helped the latter be discovered by audiences quickly.
“While they are very different shows, we felt that both the strength and some of the tonalities of Dexter would be a great launching pad for Yellowjackets and it seems to have been borne out,” Levine said. “Dexter is a dark and violent show but it’s also a witty, funny show, it’s also a family drama, and Yellowjackets has some of the same mix of tones.”
Showtime believes in the potential of Yellowjackets so much that it renewed the series for a second season without even knowing what will come next after the show’s season 1 finale.
“We have not heard the pitch for season 2, the writers’ room has not even come together yet, they are going to come together in January,” Levine revealed. “I’m sure [executive producers] Ashley, Bart, and Jonathan [Lisco] have some loose ideas but they hadn’t fleshed out their ideas and they certainly haven’t conveyed them to us. [Still] I do know that there will be some surprises in terms of the characters. There are still lots of questions about who survived, what happened out there. There will be some real surprises in terms of that and I think some characters you may not even have met yet.”
Yellowjackets airs every Sunday at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime, with its season 1 finale already set for January 16th.