TV shows that tap into cult-inspired scenarios heighten curiosity. We’ve seen it with the offerings like “Unorthodox”, “Big Love”, “The Path”, “Orphan Black”, “The Following” and “The Leftovers”.
As such, I was drawn to “Welcome to Eden”, which gave me “Squid Game” vibes.
But instead of the carefully selected recruits being manipulated by debt-ridden circumstances, this eight-part dystopic thriller picks the chosen ones from a batch of 100 young, beautiful young adults, who appear jaded by life.
This makes them attractive candidates for the island.
The recruitment process starts on social media, where profiles are waded through and potentials are flagged.
This is then followed up by a text from an undisclosed sender asking individuals one simple question: “Are you happy?”
Intrigued, those that engage in the communication believe it to be the answer to their troubles and agree to an innocuous all-expense paid for escape to a secret island.
That said, they do so without paying close attention to the fine print.
At the outset, Zoa (Amaia Aberasturi) breaks the rules by inviting her BFF Judit (Ana Mena) along. Meanwhile, África (Belinda), an influencer, feels like the experience and content will amplify her clout on social media.
Like the girls, Ibón (Diego Garisa), Charly (Tomy Aguilera) and Aldo (Albert Baró) can’t wait for the party to start.
Ahead of boarding the boat for the island, the guests are forced to hand over their phones – it is one of the rules.
Although they do so reluctantly, they are assured it will be returned to them.
With the DJ cranking up the volume, the festive atmosphere relieves some of the uneasiness until they disembark and the party continues into the night on the mysterious island, where everyone is tracked via a wristband.
Amid a few hook-ups, while under the watchful gaze of their charges, some of them are selected to be the first to taste a new drink on the market.
The next morning, five of them awake on the beach, hungover and with barely any recollection of the night’s activities.
And so Zoa, África, Ibón, Charly and Aldo find themselves following a drone, hoping to connect with the rest of the partygoers.
They arrive at a secluded haven, where they are welcomed by Astrid (Amaia Salamanca), the leader, her partner Erik (Guillermo Pfening) and their followers.
At first, she assures them that another boat will be returning. In the meantime, she welcomes them to enjoy their paradise with each of the guests assigned to a pod, shared with Eden followers.
It isn’t long before some of them like África are drawn to this new world, so much so that she signs up to stay. But others aren’t as keen to do the same.
And the longer they are on the island, the reassurances of a boat returning become less believable as some realise they are trapped with no way out.
Meanwhile, there is dissension within the ranks at Eden and some of them help the youngsters plot their big escape.
When I started watching the show, I wasn’t immediately blown away. But it slowly reels the audience in by leaving them with more questions than answers.
What I loved about the show is how the writers unpack the story by stoking the curiosity of the audience continuously. You know that Astrid has an agenda, but her endgame is a complete mystery as she brainwashes followers into joining their family.
Right now, “Welcome to Eden” is one of the most talked-about shows with fans anxiously awaiting confirmation of a sequel after the cliffhanger ending.
It is a definite must-see for viewers that appreciated “The Hunger Games” and “Westworld”. This teen drama also shines a spotlight on issues around LGBTQIA, drugs and dysfunctional families.
“Welcome to Eden” is streaming on Netflix.