Thursday, July 14, 2016

The 100: It's All About the Characters

I literally could not remember adding this show to my Netflix queue and yet there it was. I couldn't even see what about it must have appealed to me and I was about to ignore it when I thought that I might as well try watching the first episode. Maybe it would be something mildly interesting to slowly watch whenever I wanted something meaningless to watch at the end of the day.

And that's how the first episode was: it was entertaining, in a very meaningless way. The premise of the show is that earth is covered in nuclear radiation so the surviving people have been living in a space station for a hundred years, waiting for the day that they can return to the earth. A group of teens are sent down to the surface without warning or proper supplies. So they're all very excited to be on land for the first time, to be free for the first time--and that was kind of fun to watch, I guess. But then something happens at the very end of the episode that makes you realize that this isn't just a YA show about teens having fun: we learn that the ground is inhabited and the inhabitants are not friendly.

From here, the show starts building up intensity. If I had known it would be this violent and bloody, I wouldn't have watched it--but it kept my attention so much that I couldn't stop. Lots of fights, lots of knives and some guns, lots of torture, and lots of emergency surgeries without the proper medical setting--and lots of blood. In the first season or two, it seems like everyone's face is always covered in blood. There are always high stakes of life and death.

Season 1 has an obvious blend of Lord of the Flies and Lost with a touch of shows like Battlestar Galactica and a helping of Terra Nova. But it also felt unique and well formed, very complete in detail and focus. (However popular Lost was, it was a show that ultimately implied a lot more cohesion that it offered in the end.) By the coming of Season 2, the terrors build even more until they become almost nightmarish--which, while uncomfortable, is also an interesting angle. Season 3 is very different, less earthy and more sci-fi. Still high stakes, but less brutal at times--and it sounds odd, but I think the brutality is what makes this show itself (which is why things like "the cross" were some of the better moments in Season 3, because they felt more like what came before).

There are also some politics and some philosophy, often to do with the concept of leadership. A lot of the attention goes to character motives. These characters are trying to do what they think will best protect those they care about--sometimes they choose well and sometimes they don't. Sometimes it seems that nothing they do goes well. So that's all interesting material to ponder.

It's strange how characters can move from being very unlikeable to being favorites. Somewhere along the way I started to like Bellamy's character, same with Indra and Kane. In fact, Kane is my favorite and I think I may have discovered how this show ended up in my queue. Henry Ian Cusick, who plays him, also played Desmond in Lost--sometimes I click on the names of actors from one thing I've watched to see what else they've been in and add anything vaguely interesting-looking to my queue. (Oh, and I do love Kane and Abby together, by the way. They remind me in some ways of Kanan and Hera from Star Wars: Rebels.)

I couldn't tell what network had made this show. I couldn't even tell the target audience. Then I saw that it was by the CW, which is a little odd to me given that CW shows seem to be about people with dressed-up hair, makeup, and clothing, and usually everyone in this show looks like they haven't had a good bath in months. But it also makes sense: the CW targets teen and twenty-something audiences and up, right? That's about what this show does, too. Half the characters are teens but it isn't YA. It has more of a community approach to be YA--which reminds me that communities ("your people") are another big topic in this show.

In the first episode, some of the acting seemed under par, but after that it was all fine--some good acting in there, in fact. Another random thing to note: this show had the cutest moment with a newborn baby that I've ever seen on film (with Octavia).

It's hard to say how much I do or don't like this show. At first I thought I was just enjoying watching it for the suspense and then I would be done with it once the episodes were through. But now I find myself rewatching everything, and I still think about the characters throughout the day. So I may do another post later on, after I've finished the rewatch, with some more thoughts. After all, this is a very easy show to talk about: there is so much material, cultural and thematic, to ponder and analyze. I've been collecting some of my favorite quotes (there are so many very good quotes in this show) so that I can share them at that point.

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