Why You Need to See Netflix’s “The A List”

The A List

The story behind the 2018 British mystery thriller is Mia, a teenager, goes to a remote island that is intended to be a summer camp. Her intentions are to be Queen of the Hill, until she meets a charming competitor, Amber. While still aspiring to climb to the top, time reveals that Amber has a hidden dark side concealed by that charm, which opens the door to mysterious and sometimes supernatural events. So why is this a “need to see” series? Because every person who watches it will have to decide whether it is worth watching or not. The reviews thus far have ranged from stereotypical to amazing. That’s quite a range of opinions, and should pique many Netflix fans’ interest to stop in and see what more than a few people are raving about. Here are some of the reasons behind the excitement.

First, each show is only 30 minutes long. That has been both a plus and a minus from its critics. Some say it is too short and leaves viewers hanging too often. The flip side is that it makes it great for binge watching. At 13 episodes long, you don’t have to wait until tomorrow or even the day after to see how things end. Many happy bingers say they sat down and watched season one in a single day. Recent studies have shown that there is a decreasing attention span among today’s younger people, so the writers may have tapped into something that doesn’t require them to sit too long.

Next, there is a lack of technology in the series. Because the locale takes place on a remote island, the characters are working things out and attempting to solve mysteries sans technology. No super powers, no super heroes, and WiFi and cellular connections are not to be found. Teens seem to love the idea that the characters have to work out the solutions to problems without a Google search for the answer. It’s hard for younger people (and older people for that matter) to know how to navigate through life without some type of connection to technology. No one screams at the TV “Just Google it!”

Piggybacking on the concept of limited technology solutions is the idea of having to form real life personal relationships. Facebook and other social media websites and apps have allowed relationships to be largely digital, requiring little personal investment of time and effort. That puts the story in a cloistered social environment where the characters actually have to interact with each other rather than retreating to a digital safe space where they can pick and choose who they want to talk to at any given moment. Of course, it is not known how many viewers of the series are texting their friends about the episodes but as it is said, things take time.

There is nary an adult to be found anywhere on the island. In other words, no adult supervision. In some ways this a perfect world for teens but a hazardous one at the same time. The characters will have to find their own way out of perilous situations, which presents a danger and a learning experience at the same time. Sometimes the solution to a problem is simple, but there are hidden dangers lying underneath that are only revealed through the experience that parents provide. Viewers can ask themselves what they would do in a given situation and try to come up with a non-tech answer. Without adult supervision or guidance, the group is largely on their own.

There are two “adults” on the island but their role is largely as camp counselors and they stay out of the way for the most part as the storylines develop. Writing a show this way gives writes the ability to avoid the “for kids only” aspect of the show while not making it so adult that the imagination and creativity of both the characters and the viewers is squelched. When was the last time you saw a show where the main characters are not adults but instead any adult characters are pushed to the background? For some people this is hard to wrap your head around, but many viewers believe the writers have done this well.

The setting of the show is in Scotland, a place that isn’t high on many people’s list of places to go when they travel to Europe. For most younger people, the setting invites a sense of history, mystery, and the supernatural (after the sun sets). Scotland has long had a history of haunted castles and forests, and many of the storyline adventure trails leads to those locations. One has to suspect that if someone has actually traveled to Scotland their sense of mystery and adventure would be even more enhanced.

The combination of all of these elements has created a show that maybe adults will have little or no interest in watching. If this is the case, then the writers and director of “The A List” have done their job well. For Netflix to have picked up the series and given it a chance points to its propensity to meet younger viewers where they are at, creating a long term connection and loyalty to the company for the future. For those who are not fans of the format or the series, there are plenty of Netflix mainstream alternatives that will make them happy.

If you like some of the more archetypical supernatural teen shows, you will find this one a nice change of pace because of its abbreviated length (30 minutes) and the unique low tech approach that allows you to solve supernatural problems simply by thinking. There are enough interpersonal conflicts here that will keep you interested without destroying the storyline themes of adventure and mystery. Simplicity seems to be a key reason why you should tune in.

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