In the new Netflix series The Society, the teens who have been abandoned in an empty, alternate universe version of their hometown have a lot of problems — or at least that’s how it seems. The threat of violence breaking out at any moment, waves of panic and entitlement leading to the hoarding of necessary goods, squabbles within the child government — all of these pitfalls feel like disparate dots on a piece of paper, when in fact they can all be attributed to a single source: boys. Yes, for all the intrigue and procedural challenges faced by The Society’s inhabitants, the thread connecting every bad thing that happens on the show is the mere presence of males. (Okay, the diminishing resources is a genderless problem, but who do you think is the most prone to hoarding resources?)
When the town experiences its first riot of the post-parents era, who do you think started it? Some boys. When the kids were shocked by a tragic gun death, who do you think pulled the trigger? Some boy. When a political coup is staged by the law enforcement faction to seize power from the essentially socialist leader, Allie (Kathryn Newton), who do you think crafted the plan? You’re correct! Some boys! With just a few exceptions, almost every boy in the town New Ham is a liability, and it makes the show’s central conflict basically women versus Lord of the Flies at all times. Because of that, Vulture has ranked every lead male character on the show from least to most awful. The show’s first season ended on a bleak note, and you have this pack of betas and disturbing alphas to thank for it. So here goes.
Grizz — the sensitive, well-read jock with a passion for the outdoors and gardening and other boys — is the only clearly good boy in The Society. He has integrity and he’s kind and he cries sometimes and he quotes from the literary canon and he’s a member of the makeshift police force, but he never abuses his power. He mostly just wants to be left alone, do what’s right, and also start kissing other boys. We love Grizz, a truly good young man.
Gordie is definitely an asset to New Ham, since he has vigorously volunteered to be the closest thing to a doctor, and he has a generally unselfish heart. Though there was that time in the beginning of the show when he basically told Cassandra, then-leader and girl he was crushing on, that he hoped things never went back to normal because he liked that she needed him to help with her heart condition. And telling a person you hope you stay disappeared from Earth as you know it forever because you want someone with a potentially fatal heart condition to stay dependent on you is not a romantic gesture. But besides that slipup, Gordie manages to not be awful, and that is about as much as you can hope for the boys of The Society.
Sam Eliot is almost a definitively good boy, but not quite. He’s the only other known gay character in the show, is so devoted to his best friend that he’s offered to help raise her surprise-pregnancy baby as its father, and he’s generally tender and usually attentive. But he also broke Grizz’s heart, which is almost unforgivable, and he seems to contribute very little to the community from a productivity standpoint. He does a lot of “research” about the mysterious disappearance of the parents, but it doesn’t yield a whole lot. Sam is not a liability, but he could be doing more.
Guard member Jason comes in at sixth worst because he’s a power-hungry idiot with no critical-thinking skills and big enough muscles to do damage. He was also way too romantic about the feeling of power that ran through him when he executed someone with a gunshot to the head. That’s … messed up! He’s not the most dangerous member of the guard because he’s so easy to manipulate and doesn’t have the smarts to be an autonomous threat. But his darkening 5 o’clock shadow by the end of the season suggests a boy who is just falling apart, and if anyone that big and angry explodes, there’s going to be a wide blast radius. The fact that he’s mostly a lackey, however, keeps him in the sixth position. It’s not because he doesn’t suck. It’s just because he’s a follower.
Will is a tricky character, and a perfect example of how The Society tries to manipulate you into thinking boys are actually not the source of all strife. Will is a “nice guy” who is so afraid to hurt one girl’s feelings, he hurts multiple girls’ feelings. He comes off as sensitive until you realize he’s maybe just whining, and when he finally embarks on a romance with his best friend Allie, the town’s leader for most of the show, he makes her concerns about the stability of New Ham fully about how they affect his feelings. He says things to her like “You should have talked to me first” when she most definitely did not need to talk to his sorry ass at all about her governing decisions. Will does great work as the commissary’s head cook and he’s mostly nonthreatening, but he’s a Trojan horse for just another selfish boy, and damn it if that is not a slyly terrifying demographic!
Clark is the most meatheaded member of the New Ham Guard, which is basically the jocks who became town cops, and he beats Jason in this race to the bottom because he seems to genuinely enjoy hurting people. Clark seems like a guy who would join the military for the sport of shooting at unarmed foreign civilians. He’s the cop who tells his commanding officer that the perp with a broken leg just “fell down” on the way to his car. At one point in The Society, he beats the hell out of an inmate under his custody for past vendettas, but he’s also having a good time doing it. Clark is the Guard boy most vocally adamant about the strongest in New Ham needing to take what’s theirs, and he of course has no conception of running a crisis government beyond deployment of force. The Society and every woman in it would be so much better off without Clark.
If Luke saw that he was the third-worst guy in The Society he would be shocked! Incredulous! And he might even cry, because deep down inside he knows it’s true. Luke tries to be a good dude for most of the season, but the combination of entitlement and insecurity make him a grave threat to everyone in town. That’s borne out when he aids Campbell, Harry, and his fellow Guard members in overthrowing leader Allie and planting the seeds for a fascist state. Luke is almost the worst boy in the show because he’s on this whole trip about wanting to lead and wanting to do good, but his moral compass breaks under the weight of peer pressure. Then he just goes and lies to everyone’s faces about Allie so they agree she should be imprisoned —all because Campbell, a legitimately terrible person, made him do it. Luke was supposed to be one of the good ones, and then he let us down. Grizz would never.
This second-place finish might come as a surprise to Society faithful, but bear with us. Campbell is probably the only legitimately evil person in New Ham, but it seems like everyone knows that. His own brother, whom he kicked out of the house for ruining his life by ever being born, tells people he is a clinically diagnosed sociopath — as in, the type that tortures animals for fun. He’s a violent domestic abuser, and probably an accomplice to the town’s one murder. He pushes pills on his friend Harry to make him a more compliant vessel for manipulation, and he hates women telling him what to do. In every way he is just a total dick. Campbell is a chaos agent and a nihilist, not giving one damn if the whole town burns itself to the ground. He is a threat from all angles, which makes him an obvious villain — but the worst villains are often the ones you don’t see coming.
1. Harry Bingham
While Campbell is the obvious choice for Worst Boy, that dubious honor actually belongs to resident (former) rich boy, Harry. Harry may not be a sociopath like Campbell, but he lets himself be manipulated by that evil bastard. Harry is just the worst of all worlds: a former Big Man on Campus who is depressed because his socioeconomic status means nothing in the new world and hates the fact that he has to be part of the common work force. Harry spirals into a depression after he sees callouses on his hands from manual labor. Harry is mad he has to share his humongous house with people instead of living it in all by himself. Harry is a pill junkie who doesn’t even have the guile to lead a government coup orchestrated by the scariest person in town (hi, Campbell) so they can implement a classist police state. He just goes along with it. Harry is smart enough to know better and pathetic enough to not care, and you know that he would vote Trump in 2020 so the socialists couldn’t take what rightfully belongs to him. That all makes him just the absolute Worst Boy on The Society.