The Society is the new Netflix series, a teen drama created by Christopher Keyser and inspired by William Golding’s Lord of the Flies that translates us into the life of a group of teenagers forced to survive in a parallel reality.
The streaming giant decides to enrich its catalog with a story with a dystopian flavor, set in New England where a group of kids, on the eve of the annual school trip, board a bus bound for the Great Smoky Mountains to go camping for a week. For unknown reasons the trip is canceled and the bus takes them home. On their return, the boys discover that their city is uninhabited: parents, family members and every other neighbor they have ever known are gone. The strange smell that plagued West Ham also vanished with them. While the protagonists try to understand what happened, disagreements and factions are born, situations that lead to violence, murder, and a reactionary drift.
Warning: the article contains SPOILER on The Society
The Society: the Netflix series inspired by William Golding’s Lord of the Flies
The Society takes us into a suggestive (re) construction of society, in the reworking of the rules of coexistence. The teenagers protagonists of this drama find themselves having to live in a place that is timeless, that has no history: they are the first human beings who touch the shores of that parallel universe and as such are preparing to write, consciously or less, the rules of a society in which pure anarchy initially exists. The first leader of this New Ham is Cassandra, a judicious, mature girl, the voice of reason: Cassandra tries to build an idyllic society in which everyone works and collaborates, where everything belongs to everyone. Cassandra also sets up several working groups including the return home committee, which reveals that New Ham residents live in all respects in an alternative dimension of their world. Unfortunately, this type of ideal socialism will be short-lived and its end will coincide with Cassandra’s death.
After Cassandra’s death, leadership will be conferred on Allie, Cassandra’s sister, who will initiate a process of diversification of the company’s building blocks. Allie must face the murder of her sister, must find the culprit, and understand how to survive in a world where food and water supplies will end soon, in a reality where not everyone wants to work and work, where some people think they to be above all. Allie’s leadership is the most complex, because she establishes a regime based on intimidation, on fear: she hands the culprit of her sister’s murder to New Ham and decides to punish him by sentencing him to death. Allie decides to extirpate a human life, she decides to transgress every moral norm to demonstrate to herself that she is beyond good and evil, that she is above all. A decision that drags its leadership towards the abyss: persecutions, unfounded accusations and twisted reinterpretations of the truth will lead to a real coup.
The Society: “Man produces evil as bees produce honey”
The Society re-elaborates the concept of isolation, social order, hierarchy and relegates them to the adolescent macrocosm; the existential dimension is at the service of a place where self-management exists that does not always work flawlessly: the attempt by these teenagers to self-govern is decidedly disastrous. The predominant theme of the series is man and the evil that inhabits him. How is it possible that a man’s life depends on my will? Dostoevsky in Crime and Punishment brings up what is the observation of the reality of evil which is evident and central in this series.
The evil, which relentlessly takes over during the succession of their condition of isolation, is closely related to human nature itself; evil is internal and metaphysical and arises from the moral and social transgression of rules and norms. Golding himself will write that: Man produces evil as bees produce honey. The Society screams an essential truth, that evil is not out there, but is always inside. These teenagers are the carriers, aware or not, of that natural darkness of man.
The Society: what happens in the finale of the Netflix TV series
The season finale emphasizes the primary aspects of society. The first season ends with Allie looking skyward (and facing possible stoning after being arrested), a dog wanders the streets – the same dog we see during Cassandra’s murder – and for the first time since the beginning of the story we witness a revelation: in the final scene, you can perfectly see the parents of the teenagers from the town of West Ham, gathered in a room. Cassandra’s mother reads a step from Peter Pan di Barrie and, while the camera moves away from her face, one can clearly distinguish a commemorative plaque in the room, with all the names of the missing boys.
This group of kids has been torn from their reality and transported to an alternative universe which is the carbon copy of their world despite being the only inhabitants. The reason why these guys are there, and what their purpose is within that reality, during the series is not ascertained. Died? Am I in some strange kind of purgatory or perhaps in another dimension? Apparently New Ham teenagers are considered dead or missing; it is possible that they are in an alternative and sci-fi reality, as it is also possible that it is an elaborate social setting or experiment orchestrated by the government or even by their parents. It is not excluded that the New Ham boys have been kidnapped because of something that their parents have committed or are observed and studied.
The Society: a terrifying dystopian drama
What the ending tells and underlines is how this story resembles yes to Goldwin’s immortal tale, but also and above all to Peter Pan and the Piper of Hamelin of the Grimm brothers: these boys are like the Lost Children who inhabit the Island that does not there is, they are trapped in a parallel universe – without an apparent way of going home – while their parents and other family members continue to live in the real world. Furthermore, in the series, reference is made to a contract that the parents entered into with a certain Mr Pfeiffer (name that derives from the German word pfeifer, “piper”) which should have canceled the bad smell that infested the town and which presumably was not paid for its services; the same thing happens in the fairy tale of the Grimm brothers: a man must disinfest the city of Hamelin from rats but he is not rewarded for his work. These, for revenge, kidnaps and locks up the children in a cave.
The Society is in all respects a political satire that reconstructs the social and cultural archetypes of a state that was first democratic then reactionary: it is a profound political and social reflection of the reality in which we live in which the representation of power and the government system, even when held by democratic personalities, it can have an authoritarian turn, even going as far as totalitarianism. This dystopian drama, in addition to entertaining, manages to terrify, upset and seriously reflect.