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Southern Fried Geek Girls

Review of The 100

June 29, 2018

In 2014, CW churned out a starkly grim production of nuclear proportions so unlike the rest of their slate of "teen drama" series. On par only perhaps with Black Lightning in its real-world moral themes and Supernatural in its intensity. The 100 is a step outside the CW's usual fare of fantasy and supernatural and straight into the weighty, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi world that is set both in space and on earth 97 years past a nuclear apocalypse annihalated nearly all human life.

 

The first season opens on a space station orbiting earth called the Ark, home to over 2,400 survivors and governed by a council and a Chancellor (Isaiah Washington). The inhabitants of the Ark are a few generations removed from the originals who built and boarded the ship. In this post-apocalyptic world, a judicial system arose based on scarcity and constraints in space where serious crimes are punished with "spacing" (placing someone in an airlock and jettisoning them into the vacuum of space). Soon the crux of the predicament manifests: The life-support systems are failing, as are the resources and capacities of the engineers to fix them.

Among the many, there are youth under eighteen convicted of different petty crimes - from stealing resources to unsanctioned space walks - who are selected to be jettisoned to earth via escape pod. The primary reason is presented as a population cull to make a little extra time for the station to be repaired, and secondly to investigate whether the Earth would yet be habitable. The 100 crash to earth and the story begins as they discover who and what remains. What began with the trappings of watered down teen drama quickly evolves into a Lord of the Flies meets nuclear apocalypse saga where no one is safe.

The assumption is that because CW produces other, lighter fare with less mature situations, at least that which is directly addressed and the consequences of which the characters are shown to fully grapple with, that The 100 may either be superficially light in treatment - false - or that it is just as beleaguered by the trap of writing for a young audience.

 

I wouldn't be a passionate viewer if I didn't also have my critiques of the show, but it is these critiques that keep drawing me back. One failing could be the characters regression to unrepetenat fear of death and the lengths that this fear propells these characters to. On the other hand, in this post-nuclear apocalypse world, there is much in the psychology of survival that the characters grew up with that lends itself to this flaw making sense.

Secondly, the writers disinclination to have the characters have it out. There are moments rife with the opportunity for characters to act out, to confront and challenge each other and their decisions, and they don’t quite dive into those moments. Almost by some coping and survival repression, they never quite confront each other. Whether it's between the protagonist and the mother, would-be-lovers, or loose friends. This lack of catharsis is noticeable and feels like there are significant exchanges left unwritten.

A comparison to a better show that deals with this issue is SyFy's Lost Girl where tensions between characters periodically and naturally come to a head with satisfying - positive or negative- discussions.

Thirdly, the writers disinclination to allow principal characters to die. Peripheral characters pass on, but somehow the main characters, whether by the machinations of the writers or their own self-preservation and fear of death are never willing to jeopardize their own well-being for the sake of others when it really matters. Yet they perpetuate the othersness, and fail to recognize when they are falling into the same traps for which they fought so ardently against their so-called enemies. This goes back to the second point. These characters fail to recognize or choose to ignore the underlying themes of their struggles, whether because of fear, or blind willingness to pass off their actions as justified out of desperation for survival or, worse, out of malice.

 

Revenge is like a cup of coffee: Some like it hot, others like it cold; some take it with cream and sugar, and others take it straight. For the feint of heart and those empathetic souls who are sensitive to conflict, this won't be the show and the threads that keep them coming back. But for others, as frustrating as some of the drama is, it is that very drama and desire for redemption of character that will keep them coming back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 29, 2019

August 29, 2019

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