Showtime’s Yellowjackets certainly left a lot of questions unanswered through its chilling first season, but that’s kind of the point. The drama needs mystery and a bit of mysticism to keep it moving, but as eagle-eyed viewers of the show know what does get shown on screen is all there for a reason.
And that includes the costuming and characterization of the various personalities from the doomed high school soccer team from New Jersey. As viewers of the show scoured scenes for neon pink Chuck Taylors and various sweatshirts to decipher what happened out in the forest, other details about certain characters were a bit more overt. Like making Ella Purnell’s Jackie something very different from the popular girls found in other high school dramas.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, the Yellowjackets showrunners, designers, and Purnell herself detailed the thought process behind Jackie and how they brought her to life. For one, everyone involved wanted to make sure they didn’t just create a character like Regina George from Mean Girls.
“I think there were a lot of people who came in thinking, This is going to be Regina George,” Ashley Lyle, who created and runs the series with husband Bart Nickerson, says of some of the actors who auditioned for the role. “That was absolutely not what we wanted. We wanted somebody who had a natural, inherent fragility just under the perfect, beautiful surface.… In my experience, there is no such thing as a teenager without insecurities.”
Purnell didn’t want the queen bee trope either, though the 25-year-old has encountered it plenty of times over the course of her career. “I definitely was over playing anything close to stereotypical, so I wanted to make sure that she was vulnerable,” she says. “Maybe she says some things that come off a little insensitive, but that’s only because she’s insecure.”
The vulnerability certainly comes through after the plane crash, as Jackie is slowly ostracized from the group and other characters find their footing out in the wild. And small differences in the character’s costuming helped audiences visually understand that growing gap between Jackie and the others.
Her breakdown is also reflected in her costumes. “Her clothes are cleaner than other people’s in the body of the series, and she’s still wearing pretty pulled-together looks, like a vest over a button-down shirt. I don’t think anybody else is really putting together their looks in that same way,” Schley says. Toward the end of the season, as the survivors become more desperate and turn on one another, and particularly in the penultimate episode, “Doomcoming,” Jackie “becomes a little bit less put together,” Schley says, as her power within the group weakens.
Other ways Jackie was highlighted were a bit more unexpected, though. The throat slash/smirk at the camera at the 30-second mark of the show’s opening credits, for example, has become one of the most memorable characterizations of Jackie’s pre-crash personality. Interestingly, that scene never actually made it into an episode: in the interview, Purnell said she had to text the other actors in a group chat to figure out when she even shot it.
The full piece is loaded with small details like that, which will help fans eager for a second season of Yellowjackets bide their time for just a bit longer.