It’s become apparent of late that television series are really pushing the envelope when it comes to discussing major social issues. The 100, although set in the future with a seemingly unrealistic premise, manages to bring forward some of the most basic human foundations in a perfect blend of sympathy and realism with a touch of melodrama added for our sheer entertainment. As someone who is well past her teen years, I actually developed a slight addiction to this new series and was kept interested from start to finish.
So the premise is simple: A hundred teen prisoners are sent to Earth (which has remained uninhabited for 97yrs) in order to see whether it is now a suitable liveable environment for the remaining populace on the Ark, whose dwindling resources could spell the end of the human race. Of course when a bunch of teens, who are shockingly all attractive, are forced to work together in order to survive, issues are going to find their way to the surface. Case in point Clarke (Eliza Taylor) who is thrust into a somewhat leadership role immediately clashes with the headstrong Bellamy (Bob Morley), who came to Earth to protect his ‘illegal’ sister Octavia (Marie Avgeropoulos). The rebellious Finn (Thomas McDonell) instantly shares a connection with Clarke, which is complicated by the arrival of his girlfriend Raven (Lindsey Morgan), who was sent to Earth by Ark leader Abby (Paige Turco), who also happens to be Clarke’s mother. Over the course of this season, dangers exist not only from outside sources but also ones much closer to home, and our would-be heroes must band together in order to survive and keep the human race alive.
Former Australian soap stars Taylor and Morley thrive in their respective roles, each managing to preserve a sense of subtlety in a show that screams teen drama. Maintaining a sense of realism and empathy is hard to achieve, especially given the premise, but each manage to stay grounded and not over act, which was a nice change from the usual. Lost alumni Henry Ian Cusick is also superb as Councillor Marcus Kane, who is somewhat of a villain but also has a little Grinch heart somewhere inside, making for some great moments where Cusick can show off his acting chops in one of the more layered characters in the series.
The thing that sets apart this series from your everyday ‘Pretty Little One Tree Teen Wolf’ melodrama is the inclusion of some heavy hitting issues. Taking a page from conceptions like Lord of the Flies, the series focuses on real problems that would arise under the given circumstances. Survivors killing other survivors, food rations, illness, issues of power and torture all play a major role in The 100, and showrunner Jason Rothenberg doesn’t shy away from the raw animalism surviving entails. The characters are faced with such political and emotional issues on the daily, making for a refreshing take on the cookie cutter fluff teen shows normally provide.
Episodically speaking, Day Trip, the eighth instalment of the series, is by far the most well rounded, character driven chapter. We get a glimpse into the seemingly violent Bellamy, who at the heart of it is trying desperately to protect his sister and all the other survivors, while masking his own deep rooted issues. Similarly Clarke is coping with her guilt over her father’s death and the stresses of leadership, but a terrifying attack sees these once feuding foes joining forces and helping each other and themselves. Of course this doesn’t mean all their problems are solved, but it made for a great midpoint episode and is a fantastic lead in to the season finale.
Relevant from the outset and riveting until the final minute, The 100 manages to differentiate itself from the stock standard we’ve come to expect from teen dramas and be a cut above the rest. There are definitely no award winning performances here, but there is also a complete lack of melodramatics and PG13 antics that make for some great television. Fantastic storytelling and a simple approach to would be complicated material, and what you have is a well thought out, entertaining series that will hopefully have an extended stay on our screens.