It starts with a smell. Netflix begins streaming “The Society” a wickedly addictive yet frequently ridiculous blend of Stephen King and CW teen melodramas.
Set in a wealthy Connecticut town where the line between the haves and have-nots, outcasts and queen bees is well demarcated, “Society” imagines a world where a mysterious odor sends a high school class out of town on a school trip only to return home, or to a weird facsimile of the place, where everyone else has vanished, taking with them all contact with the outside world.
The group of ludicrously good-looking young people can still use their phones, but only to call and text each other. Roads out of town appear to be blocked, or photoshopped out of existence.
The weird tone establishes itself immediately. Faced with life without parents or authorities, the kids react as characters might in a beer commercial or a “Simpsons” episode they let loose and throw a kegger inside the local church.
Things go downhill from there, as the rich jock clique rebels against rational efforts to organize and share food, water and medicine.
Kids-on-their-own fantasies are as old as “Red Dawn” or “Lord of the Flies.” A 1969 ABC drama called “The New People” imagined a planeload of college kids crash-landing on a Pacific island that had been a well-stocked military facility, conveniently offering shelter and supplies so hippie-era youth could rebuild the world from the ground up.
“The Society” wastes little time getting down to contemporary concerns, pitting gun-wielding Ayn Rand types against the more vulnerable. Unlike recent head-scratchers like “Under the Dome” or “Lost,” the focus here isn’t on the search for explanations, but on what characters do and how they define themselves in their “new normal.”
Will younger viewers see “The Society” as a cautionary horror tale? Or view life without adults and parents as a vicarious thrill?
- The subject of parents involved in their children’s lives well into early adulthood is the subject of “Last Man Standing” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-PG). It ends its seventh season tonight, with Kyle and Mandy considering the idea of getting their own place. Fox has renewed the Tim Allen comedy for an eighth season.
- Returning series include season six of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-14).
- “Sneaky Pete,” starring Giovanni Ribisi as a con man who steals the identity of his former prison cellmate, enters its third season, streaming on Amazon Prime.
- Females fete their friend’s (Rachel Dratch) 50th in the 2019 Netflix comedy movie “Wine Country,” also featuring Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Tina Fey. Poehler’s directorial debut.
- Proof that every generation has its own form of franchise comfort food, the cable cafeteria serves up “The Godfather” (4:30 p.m., AMC, TV-MA) and “The Godfather, Part II” (8:30 p.m., AMC, TV-MA); “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (7 p.m., E!, TV-PG); “Octopussy” (8 p.m., Starz Encore) and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (7 p.m., FX, TV-14).
Tonight’s season finales
- Mac may have met his match on “MacGyver” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
- Margaret divides Sid and Hank on “The Cool Kids” (7:30 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
- The clock is ticking on Rosemary’s murder case on “Proven Innocent” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
- Frank worries about his wedding toast on “Blue Bloods” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-14).
- The plot against America on “The Blacklist” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
- A mother on death row professes innocence on “20/20” (8 p.m., ABC).
- “Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men” (8 p.m., Showtime, TV-MA) profiles musicians.
Roy Scheider and Tony Lo Bianco star in the 1974 police thriller “The Seven-Ups” (7 p.m., TCM, TV-14). Location shots document a pre-gentrified New York on the brink of bankruptcy.
Fallon and Liam take on Adam on “Dynasty” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... A hacker in hiding needs help on “Hawaii Five-0” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14)