As the title of our blog suggests, all of us at the Daily Geekette are big fans of both feminism and genre fiction, myself definitely included. And since the pickings are slim on network television, the teenage version of myself would be horrified to discover that this means I’ve had to turn my attention to the CW as a network so that I can watch Sci-Fi/Fantasy television without being forced to stomach too much sexism. Recently, the CW’s The 100 has been one of the few and proud shows that give me real, quality science fiction. In fact, it’s the best true Sci-Fi I’ve seen since Battlestar Galactica. And since its ratings leave much to be desired, I’m going to devote the next several hundred words to convince as many people as possible to give this show a chance. Because The 100 deserves that chance more than almost any other on TV right now.
The premise is as follows: Ninety-seven years ago, a World War Three-like event decimated the Earth’s population and left much of the land a nuclear wasteland. The lone survivors were the residents of space stations which orbited above the planet and joined together to form a mega-station known as the Ark. Now, with the Ark running low on oxygen and food, 100 young prisoners have been sent to the ground to see if the planet has recovered from the apocalypse enough to sustain human life. The 100 details the battle for the survival of themselves and their humanity.
The 100 functions as a CW show in all of the best ways. The series directly appeals to the network’s core teen female audience by providing them with a strong-willed female protagonist, life-and-death stakes, and a cast full of twenty-somethings with nice cheekbones. However, it separates itself from series like The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl by gradually steering away from romance (particularly in the second season) and focusing its primary B storyline on a group of adults dealing with the same struggles.
This balance makes the world feel fleshed out and more realistic. Though teens are the ones that the human race depends on, characters who are in their thirties and forties are constantly questioning the abilities of the young heroes. Though this may seem frustrating to most viewers accustomed to seeing seventeen-year-olds in charge, it actually aids character development and encourages the audience to not take their young protagonists for granted. Unlike TV series like Avatar or book series like Percy Jackson, it ties these fictional struggles to the real world. The teenage heroes are forced to prove themselves and have to earn the respect of their elders, which grants more authenticity to The 100 as a coming-of-age work.
Clarke (played by Australian actress Eliza Taylor) is the show’s protagonist. Despite being imprisoned, she’s the most privileged of the group sent to the ground. Her mother is the Ark’s chief medical doctor, which means that Clarke not only has medical knowledge herself but also that her life is valued by the adults in the series based on her parentage. She uses her privilege to keep the others alive (both by helping them medically and by encouraging those aboard the Ark to send aid). Once she starts being seen as a political leader by their enemies, she continues to fight for the lives of her people and employ the belief that no person is worth little enough to be sacrificed for a greater good. However, despite providing her with this nobility, the writers work tirelessly to prove that Clarke is still human and that the weight on her shoulders can be too much to bear.
Rounding out the main cast are technology-whiz Raven, siblings Bellamy and Octavia, comic relief buddies Monty and Jasper, warrior-turned-ally Lexa, and the adults aboard the Ark: Clarke’s mother, Abby, and the Ark’s chief leaders Jaha and Kane. Literally every side character is fleshed out to the fullest and provided with complex backstories. No character is a clear-cut villain, nor is anyone a “Noble Hero.” Every character, even the most minor ones, has a unique outlook on life and how the human race should continue, which provides a compellingly raw and humanistic story.
The 100 builds on the legacy of Sci-Fi/Fantasy series like Battlestar Galactica, in asking questions about the meaning of existence, and how the human race makes life worth living. Real world issues like PTSD and reproductive rights are addressed, while other issues like gender and race equality are made to be non-issues that would hinder the survival of the human race. In an age when most network television provides a distraction from questions about life and the majority of renewed programming still stars white, middle-aged men, we need a show created by brilliant minds and led by extraordinary women.
Do you watch The 100? What do you think? Let us know in the comments!