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Gretchen Klein is the main antagonist of the first and second season of The Wilds. She is portrayed by Rachel Griffiths.

She is an ambitious intellectual who runs an all-girls empowerment retreat. Her work means everything to her, and although well-meaning, her impassioned goals could cloud her sense of right and wrong [1].

Early Life[]

Gretchen is a former college professor. The previous fall, other members of the faculty voted to have her fired from the college. Lauren Sobel casted the tie-breaking vote against her. Gretchen's practices were seen as unorthodox even before the Dawn of Eve experiment.

She has two pugs, Coco and Jax. Gretchen adopted her pugs on the day her divorce was finalized.

Throughout the Series[]

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Gretchen is analytical and manipulative. She has a lot of information on the girls and uses it to keep their parents from worrying about them while they're gone.

Gretchen wholeheartedly believes that women are the future of the planet and that if women were in charge, the earth wouldn't be headed toward impending disaster. This leads her to designing a completely unethical study that would be dismissed upon a panel simply hearing the premise, but nevertheless, she persisted in creating the Dawn of Eve experiment. If the girls ever make it back to the United States alive, she will definitely be getting sued.

Physical Appearance[]

Gretchen has long Auburn hair and green eyes, and sometimes wears black glasses. She owns several turtlenecks and often wears blazers and sweaters.

Gretchen typically doesn't wear shoes in the office because Steve Jobs often didn't wear shoes at work.


Devon Klein[]

Devon is Gretchen's son. She says to Nora that he really was a good kid, that she raised him right. She took him to the Women's March and had conversations with him about "consent and respect and body positivity." . However, when he is in college, he joins a fraternity and is sent to prison after a fraternity pledge died during a hazing. This pledge was Nora's boyfriend, Quinn. Klein advised her son to plead guilty.

Linh Bach[]

Gretchen first meets Linh in a study that seemed to be conducted by Leonard. She meets her later on at a bar that Linh works at, and Gretchen offers her a spot on her big project. They dive into a conversation about men, and Linh tells the story of how she began to hate them. Linh eventually agrees to be a part of Gretchen's project, and over the course of a month or two working on setting up the Dawn of Eve project, they get close and become great friends.

Linh was supposed to be one of Gretchen's confederates in the study but unfortunately, she died on the first day. This upset the normally level-headed Gretchen.


Audrey works for Gretchen on the experiment, but she also seems to be a close friend of hers. Gretchen trusts Audrey a lot, and this is shown when she wishes she was down on the island taking care of things during the day Fatin suddenly disappeared, as well as when she confesses to Audrey that she was lying when she told the group about Fatin's unusual behavior. Audrey supports Gretchen and makes effort to follow protocol, being loyal to her at all times.


Alex works for Gretchen on the Dawn of Eve project. There seems to be tension between them, seeing as Gretchen mentions to Audrey that she's uncomfortable working with someone who actively hates her, referring to Alex. Alex is shown to be skeptical of Gretchen and the entire project in general, often asking questions and doubting the decisions she's making.

Nora Reid[]

Nora is Gretchen's confederate in the study. She met her when Nora tried to visit Devon in prison. Gretchen manages to convince Nora to participate in her project when they meet up again one day. Nora feeds the Dawn of Eve team information about the group.

Dot Campbell[]

Gretchen has an encounter with Dot when the latter meets up with her shortly after her father passed away. Gretchen pays Dot to go on the trip so that Child Protective Services won't go after her. Dot seems to think there's a catch with Gretchen's deal and asks her what she wants from her.

Leah Rilke[]

Leah is a part of Gretchen's study. Gretchen favors Leah out of the other girls on the island. It is very likely that it was Gretchen who sent Jeffrey Leah's birth certificate.

Leonard Whitney[]

Leonard seems to be her friend and colleague. They're first shown discussing Gretchen's project together over a meal. In another scene, the pair spectate what seems to be Leonard's conformity study with a group of girls.


Season One
Episode Appearance Status
Day OneAppears
Day TwoAppears
Day ThreeAppears
Day SixAppears
Day SevenAppears
Day TwelveAppears
Day FifteenAppears
Day SixteenAppears
Day Twenty-TwoAppears
Day Twenty-ThreeAppears


Gretchen: "God, I can't wait for these timid-minded fucks to see what bold measures can do."
-- in Day Three
Audrey: "How you feeling?"
Gretchen: "If I tell you, do you promise not to repeat it?"
Audrey: "Come on."
Gretchen: "Like Napoleon... with a cunt."
Audrey: "Ooh."
-- in Day Fifteen
Gretchen: "To hell with ceremony, to hell with the script, to hell with male domination that has turned this planet into a war-torn, money-hungry fireball. You know why you're here. You know why supported us. Because ten years from now, you don't wanna be watching the apocalypse wishing that you'd had the courage to do something insane in the name of fucking progress!"
-- in Day Fifteen
Gretchen: "It's not voyeurism if it's research. Unless it is voyeurism."
-- in Day Twenty-Two
Gretchen: "I want you to ask yourself, Nora. 'Am I thriving?' And your sister. Is she thriving? Are my fellow young women thriving? Thriving in this culture created by men? Aren't we all suffering, pushing ourselves to perfection, taking on too much, losing ourselves to things that cannot be and then breaking at the seams? Imagine stepping away from it all, breaking free, logging off. Imagine spending a few months in an environment where societal pressures are eliminated, replaced only by the simple responsibilities of breathing, surviving, and becoming more truly yourself. And at the same time, creating a world that men don't control. A world of our very own. Tell me, Nora... how does that sound?"
-- in Day Twenty-Three

Notes & Trivia[]

  • Gretchen scratches at her neck when she's irritated.
  • Gretchen is not into movies, especially not romantic comedies, but she likes the 1989 film "When Harry Met Sally..." because she thinks it succeeds at portraying both male and female points of view.
  • Gretchen has performed karaoke only one other time in her life. The year was 1994 and she did a rather ill-fated song at an office party. The less said about it the better.
  • Gretchen frequently goes barefoot when she's at work. It's a practice inspired by Silicon Valley pioneer Steve Jobs, who often strolled the halls of Apple without shoes on.