By Quentin Basnaw
When I was perusing Netflix trying to find another piece of entertainment to review, I stumbled onto The 100. I saw the synopsis, saw that it was going to focus on teenagers, and I moved on. After moving through the list of shows and ending back on The 100, I noticed it’s rating: NR. Intrigued (how many things starring teenagers and teenage angst have an NR rating?) I looked up a more detailed synopsis. THIS synopsis got me interested: Humans live on a massive space station called the Ark, and the Earth down below is a radioactive wasteland. Resources are scarce on the Ark, so if someone breaks their strict laws, they are “floated” (jettisoned out into space). However, if someone breaks the law and they are under the age of 18, they are locked up instead of floated. Guess what? There are one hundred people currently locked up, all under the age of 18! They are sent to Earth under the pretense of “atoning” for their actions, and are the advance scouting team to see if the Earth is habitable again.
Now, the first half of the first season is simply here to set everything up. The first episode, without any context whatsoever, is incredibly fast paced and sloppy, trying to set up the premise I just told you and get everyone to the ground in the first six minutes. After that first episode, the show is entertaining, and after the middle section of season one, it is riveting. After that, the show never steps on the brakes, which both helps and hinders the show. Certain overdone tropes in that might drag on for three episodes on other shows are promptly dealt with in half an episode in this show, keeping the show exciting. However, some of these tropes begin to suffer because they aren’t drawn out enough. This problem only becomes apparent in Season Three.
The fast pace keeps the show from being dull, but where would a show be without characters? Thankfully, there are a plethora of of them. The main characters, both teenagers and adults, are incredible in their own ways. Each one of them has gone through long and painful character arcs. By the end of season three, not a single one of them is completely “innocent.” This is the main reason why The 100 is awesome. The moral dilemmas these characters face, then act upon, are gut wrenching: They need to save their people, but there’s a group of people being led by a handful of jerks that have their people. Do you kill them to save your people? The show presents endless situations, both large and small, that have you loving, hating, crying over, or screaming at the characters. They all do crazy things in the name of survival, and the show doesn’t shy away from the psychological and societal implications for someone, or a few someones, with hundreds of deaths on their hands.
For the most part, the show handles the drama superbly. The last thing that makes the show awesome is how real it is. OK, elements such as the Artificial Intelligence hellbent on taking over the world, armies of radiation-resistant humans, and the some of the love triangles on this show aren’t THAT real. What I am referring to as “real” are the undertones and hidden messages this show contains. This show is like watching humanity unfold. Sure, you can say that about a tremendous amount of fiction. For me, however, this show is too real. The situations that arise from misunderstandings, from sadness, from happiness, from someone’s ego, from raw emotion, are like looking through a lens of humanity’s past, present, and future. The situations that arise can be compared to countless moments in history, and even now. For example, rampant xenophobia exists in this world, and no one is immune. Some can tolerate their prejudices, but it’s not easy.
The only thing I fault the show on is its early moments. As stated before, the first episode is an editor’s nightmare. It’s painful. The series gets better as it goes along, but it does have an early romantic relationship for which I CHEERED when one of the “star crossed lovers” dies. Won’t say which relationship it is, but just know that it was one that felt completely forced and unnecessary. Besides these minor faults, The 100 is solid entertainment. Season four just started, so catch up on
Netflix, and check it out on the CW!