Series Spotlight is a monthly feature in which I talk about television shows or miniseries that has caught my attention and/or undying devotion. Have a suggestion for a TV show I should watch? Let me know in the comments!
The Premise: What if the world ended tomorrow, and the only place we could go was space? 97 years after a nuclear apocalypse devastates the Earth, 100 juvenile delinquents (a relative term) are sent down to the ground from the Ark, a space station humanity has inhabited since the disaster. Their newfound freedom is exhilarating as it is short-lived, as they realize that a) they are not the only human beings on Earth and b) their families’ lives and the future of humanity depend on their survival.
The Draw: The buzz for this show built up slowly before turning into a fireball of flailing and feels on my Twitter feed. Friends were talking about “Bellarke” as often as they were talking about books, and if you know book bloggers, you know we talk about books A LOT. The tipping point was around the third week of November, when all my social media channels turned into an internet-wide celebration of a hug between two characters. (I saw fanmixes for this hug, y’all. For a literal five-second hug. [“Hug” doesn’t look like a real word anymore.])
And what better time to marathon all the available episodes on Netflix than Christmas vacation? So I watched it all, and I had all the emotions, and now everyone in my immediate vicinity has been informed of how important it is that they watch the show, and no, I’m fine, I don’t need those tissues, I’ll just lie here on the floor for a bit.
Why You Should Stick Around: The ladies. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this show, and it’s the main reason I fell so hard. The Ark is quite patriarchal and rigid, with a council that sticks to a set way of doing everything. But there are sparks of revolution scattered here and there in the female characters. Those sparks light up on Earth, and they help keep the 100 from being completely lost. Dr. Abby Griffin advocates for the choices that will save lives, even when those choices may not be logical or predictable. Raven Reyes’s confidence in her abilities and determination to find out the truth takes the characters to places they never expected to go, and ensures their survival more often than not.
Octavia Blake drives some of the biggest twists in the series as she pushes the limits of the 100’s comfort zones. Clarke Griffin is a heroine who is trying to stick to her beliefs and reconcile what it means to be a good person and what one needs to do to survive. Without spoiling future events, I can guarantee that there are female supporting characters beyond these four who exercise leadership and strength in myriad ways.
There are some standouts among the boys—Bellamy Blake is a complicated antihero (aren’t they all), and I’ll admit that I was prepared to like the fanon version of him more than the actual canon character. But between nuanced writing and Bob Morley’s ability to power scenes, Bellamy has become one of my favourite characters and one whose development I’ve greatly enjoyed. I also have to give a shoutout to Christopher Larkin, who plays Monty, and has given audiences a charming and clever character to love. It’s hard not to smile every time I see Monty, which is a real feat considering the rapid dark shifts the show does so well.
And it is a dark show—death is not something The 100 shies away from, even within the first ten minutes. The events might be taking place in the future, but hovercrafts and gadgets are the last thing on these teens’ brains. An early argument between Bellamy and Clarke sets the tone for what they struggle with since arriving on Earth: what are we willing to do to survive? Clarke’s ideals and compassionate values clash, sometimes violently, with Bellamy’s natural leadership and desperation for real freedom. They’re kids, faced with very real deadly threats, on a world they’ve only ever heard stories about.The adults left on the Ark might be older, but they too are thrown off by human nature, and the growing awareness of their own mortality and its inevitability.
The 100 has thrown me off too, and surprised me at every turn. You get the sense that these writers are not writing to try to protect characters or to force the story to go where they want it to go. They seem to be writing for the story, letting the characters’ actions guide their next steps, and committing to what those steps might bring. When characters make horrible decisions, those decisions are still, always in character, for what that character has become. When deaths happen, sometimes they are senseless, but never pointless. It’s a wild, dangerous new world, and the 100 have only begun to live in it.
Next month on Series Spotlight:
“‘What was that?’ In other words… It’s Humingyay.”
“Read the book!”
Categories: Series Spotlight