Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson interview: ‘Yellowjackets’ showrunners
The buzzy new drama series “Yellowjackets” combines a number of fascinating elements into one show. The dark Showtime drama centers on a group of teenage girls’ soccer teammates who survive a plane crash in the 1990s and resort to drastic measures in the wilderness. We also follow four of the girls — Shauna, Taissa, Natalie and Misty — in their adult lives in 2021, as they try to move on with their lives while still haunted by their past experiences. Showrunners Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson have gotten good at summing up their genre-bending show. “I think the way that we pitched it was, a pitch dark coming of age story, a Gothic fairy tale and a psychological horror story all combined into one,” says Lyle in an exclusive new webchat for Gold Derby. Watch the full video interview above.
“Yellowjackets” explores the relationships between girls and women, the effects of trauma, the societies that form when stripped to our barest essentials and a lot more in between. For Lyle, it was about exploring “the best and the worst that people are capable of.” The first season teases an animalistic cult that forms in the wilderness, as the girls try to find meaning and purpose in their new surroundings as much as they also try to find help. “There’s a real historical precedent that one of the first things that people do — it almost predates language — is come up with a belief system and try to make sense of the world around them, and so that’s to some extent what’s going on there,” explains Lyle.
What also gives “Yellowjackets” added resonance is its all-star cast. In addition to Tawny Cypress, the show boasts three women very well known for their work in the ’90s — Melanie Lynskey, Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci. While Nickerson notes that “probably 99%” of the trio being cast was their specific talents as actors, their status as well-known ’90s figures may have played a subconscious part. “It is probably impossible to escape the effect of just being a famous person from such a formative period in our pop culture sensibility,” he adds. Regardless of status, however, the main goal was finding actresses who were capable of adapting to the show’s unique tone. “We knew that we had very creatively, a kind of ambitious show in terms of all this stuff that we wanted to do tonally, character, story-wise.”
Showtime has greenlit the series for a second season, and while neither showrunner can say much about what’s ahead, fans should expect a doubling down of what makes the show unique. As Nickerson puts it, he is excited to have the opportunity to “continue to have the show become even more of itself.” Expect a deeper dive into the mystical elements in the wilderness. “One of the things that we really do want to do is to follow that story in the most fun, strange, unexpected way.”