Once upon a time, a wide-eyed blogger went to BEA and got a whole stack of books. One of those books was a slender, white volume about criminal kids in space sent to explore a radioactive Earth. The blogger did not like the book. Fast-forward a year and some change, and the book is now a TV show. All of Twitter has gone mental over said TV show. The wide-eyed blogger was confused and wary. She gave into peer pressure. She watched the show. And now she’s going to school y’all on why you need The 100 in your life.
Seriously, I’m kind of obsessed with this show. I blame Gillian and her Bellarke tweets. (I’ll explain what a Bellarke is later.) The very brief synopsis is that Earth was destroyed by a nuclear war and the survivors fled to space and have orbited around Earth in a massive space station called the Ark. Now, decades later, the Ark is running out of air, so the Council has jettisoned 100 teenage criminals to the ground as guinea pigs to see if Earth is survivable. There are so many exciting twists and turns and plot threads that spin out of that basic concept, and I don’t want to ruin them all for you, but here are just a few reasons why I love this show.
1. Refreshing lack of bossy old white men
Seriously, it’s fantastic. Too many futuristic shows show a society dominated by old, white men. So much for imagining a better tomorrow. But The 100 isn’t like that. Of all the leaders in all the different factions both in space and on the ground, only one (ONE) is a white guy, and he’s highly suspect from the moment he enters the story. Everyone else is either a) female or b) not white.
For instance, the Chancellor of the Arc, Thelonious Jaha? Black.
His two most trusted advisors? One’s a half-Peruvian guy named Marcus Kane, and the other’s a female doctor named Abby Griffin.
On the ground, the teenagers eventually form their own power structure and follow the commands of a half-Filipino guy (Bellamy Blake) and the other is the daughter of the female doctor (Clarke Griffin.)
Early on (like, in the pilot episode) the kids learn that people actually survived the nuclear war and still live on Earth. They call this group the Grounders. I don’t want to talk too much about who their leaders are, but they’re run primarily by stone-cold chicks who are completely awesome. Too often, TV shows and movies will throw in one, maybe two girls for their female viewers and say “These two are the people you can identify with. Boys, here are TEN for you!” As a girl, I love that I get an entire show of smart, calculating, kind, kick-butt characters to choose from. (This gifset is one of my faves.)
The supporting characters are a blessed mix of races and genders, as varied and casually diverse as any you would see in real life. (As opposed to a Hollywoodized group where the majority are white and male with a sprinkling of other faces thrown in.) And the best thing? NO ONE MAKES A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT. No one’s promoting Finn to a leadership role just because he’s a white guy or giving Raven a hard time because she happens to be a mechanic and a Hispanic female. On the ground, all that matters is that you get the job done, so when a character proves that they have what it takes to Do The Thing, all of the other characters support that character regardless of race or gender.
(Note: Annnnnd later there’s a character with a disability that isn’t magically healed, but that’s a spoiler so shhhh.)
2. Character arcs
Dude. Duuuuude. You don’t even know.
Okay, so, when I first started watching The 100, I live-tweeted my thoughts, which provided great entertainment for everyone, especially when it came to how I felt about certain characters. Take this Bellamy guy, for example. In the beginning, he’s a total jerk, the kind you root to be killed quickly and violently, if we’re being honest. He makes horrible decisions. But as the series progresses, he learns. He grows. Instead of being a violent, nihilistic dictator, he transforms into a protective, loyal, selfless leader who still makes mistakes but does the best he can for the sake of his people. His sister Octavia was also someone I gleefully would have pushed off a cliff, but over time she turns into this… this freaking Sky Warrior. You learn more about her heart and her drive to survive, and it’s incredible.
Actually, my favorite character of all time is a dear pet of a character I call Murder Puppy. He’s awful. He’s a bully and a murderer and just the all-around worst. But WOW, do they do some intense character development on this guy. Not only do you get his backstory, but you can track through the episodes why he makes the decisions that he does, and the show is very good at keeping him three-dimensional. (They’re good about that for everyone, really, except for maybe Lincoln.)
Basically, if you enjoy character-driven stories, The 100 is a gold mine. Good characters do bad things and seemingly bad characters do good things and everyone’s fighting to stay alive and protect what matters most to them.
The Earth is a scary place. There’s freaky weather phenomena, mutant creatures, deadly plagues, and people who’d as soon impale you with a spear as look at you. After a season and a half, I can’t remember ever being bored by an episode. Between the failing Ark in space and the perils of Earth living on the ground, someone’s always trying to cheat death.
If you want a soft, peaceful show where the characters sit around in their tweed knickers and discuss polo matches or something, this is not the show for you. But if you want to join in on an adrenaline-pumping, pulse-pounding, kamikaze-mission of an adventure, you have found your place.
4. Dirt and gore
I’m not one for graphic details, but I do like realism. Shows where the female leads end every episode with perfect hair and makeup are just not for me. During the pilot, I grumbled a lot about Clarke’s monster curls, Octavia’s shimmering waterfall of a mane, and how a certain mutant
alligator gar “river eel” left a certain character with a wimpy scratch on her leg after an attack, and I was assured that life on Earth was going to get real awfully quick.
THEY WERE RIGHT. Guys, this show gets The Blacklist-level gross in spots. There are battle wounds, deaths, illnesses, backstabbings, animal attacks, horrific accidents, and all of the other gruesome things that you could expect when crash-landing on an untamed, radioactive planet inhabited by a hostile people group. You go from a river eel love nibble to an onscreen mercy killing by a knife to the neck.
Also, in certain episodes, the characters go from this:
When you’re running for your life, personal hygiene isn’t high on the priority list, AND THIS IS AS IT SHOULD BE.
5. THAT SHIP
If you’ve heard about The 100 before, then you’ll know that the main ship (romantic relationship) on the show is between Bellamy Blake and Clarke Griffin (aka, Bellarke). Not that they’ve done anything. Heck, they didn’t even hug for the first time until a couple episodes ago. (AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.)
These two are the epitome of both hate-to-love romance and slow-burn romance. They loathe each other for the longest time and then slowly start to respect and then trust each other. There are other ships to sail, to be sure, but for me, this is The Ship, my The 100 OTP.
As in “This show has heart” and “OH MY HEART.” Remember how under character arcs I talked about characters with depth? Well, with characters with depth come relationships with depth and owwwww. This point is especially for the people out there who roll their eyes at the Bellarke fanatics. Yes, the primary (from the view of the fans) romantic relationship is wonderful, but the multitude of platonic relationships in this show are just as wonderful.
I don’t even know where to begin. There’s the relationship between Bellamy and his little sister Octavia, the relationship between best buds Monty and Jasper, the way Monty 100% trusts and looks up to Clarke, the platonic, totally solid and trustworthy aspect of Bellamy and Clarke’s relationship, the oft troubled but fascinating dynamic between Jaha, Abby, and Kane, the relationship between Clarke and the various Grounder soldiers and Commander, the twisty thing that is Bellamy and Murphy, the relationship between Murphy and Clarke (NO I AM NOT IMAGINING IT THIS IS A REAL THING), the squeeworthy banter between Raven and Wick, the professional ties between Abby and Jackson, the blossoming galmance of mutual respect and admiration between Raven and Clarke…
Gosh, so many. SO. MANY. The kids especially are becoming the most precious of found families even as they struggle for their very survival, and I can’t deal with them.
And that only deals with specific, interpersonal moments between named characters. That doesn’t even cover the moments of intense bravery and sacrifice on the part of both named and unnamed characters for the good of the people. There’s this one scene with a character I only know as Ginger Daddy that just… I need a minute.
I think this is where you most clearly see the show’s origin as a book. In most TV shows, the episodes are treated as individual stories. Yes, there are overarching season arcs, carried character development, and even a couple two-part episodes, but a murder that starts on Episode One of a crime show will most likely be solved within that episode and have little to no impact on the following episode.
Not with The 100. In this show, each episode is more like a chapter. Smaller subplots are solved within each episode, but the big pieces carry on. And even when a bigger question is laid to rest, an episode never ends with a sense of completion. Instead of a peaceful moment or a sly joke, each episode is treated like a season finale. There’s always a cliffhanger waiting to make you gasp, scream, and beg for the next episode in the same way each chapter in a book should entice you to read “just one more page.”
8. We’re all insane
Every last one of us. Completely, 100%, certifiably, head-over-heels insane for this show. If you get hooked, you will never be without support. No matter which ship you ship, which character you adore, which subplot you jones for, there will be someone there to moan, “I knowwwww, right?” I mean, I totally volunteer to be a listening ear and cackling know-it-all for whichever of you get sucked in by this post, but I know others will as well. It’s a well-written, exciting, engaging show, and we’re here to support it. And honestly, just based on the reactions of the people I flailed with when I was catching up on the last season, enjoying it through someone else’s first time experience is just as fun as experiencing it for the first time yourself.
WE ARE HERE FOR YOU.
So there you have it. Eight rather long-winded reasons why you should watch The 100 now, now, NOW.
Let me note clearly that this is a CW show. The bit about the gore? Yeah, there’s totally gore. People make awful, reprehensible choices (and don’t get away without consequences, but still). There are sex scenes (that I totally fast-forwarded.) This is not a sit-down-with-the-preschoolers-and-enjoy type of show. Educate yourself and know what you’re getting into so that you can enjoy the experience without any unpleasant surprises.
The 100 is one of the very few cases where I advocate forgetting the original text entirely and just enjoying the show for the show’s sake. If any of the above points interest you in the slightest, check it out and thank me later.