It would be fair to say at this point in time that The 100 is my favorite TV show on the air right now. Since I started it back in February (and even more so since I watched episode 2×05 in May), it has excited me and reignited all of my crazy fan tendencies in a big way. It’s a long wait until season three and I would love for more people to catch up during the wait, so if post-apocalyptic sci-fi is in any way your thing or if you just love great TV, regardless of genre, here are some reasons to start The 100 (first season available on Netflix)
The first reason to watch is the existence of Clarke Griffin as a character. From the very beginning, she was a leader. Not because she needed to be in charge, but because she felt the responsibility of taking care of the other kids. It made her the boring stick-in-the-mud compared to Bellamy’s leading style of “whatever the hell we want” but it also caught the attention of some like Monty who would have followed her to the end of the earth after only knowing her for a day. She draws people to her because they recognize her desire to help them survive and her ability to get things done. She’s the kind of character that other characters and viewers alike can be inspired by and the further into the series you get, the more you feel for her as she grows and adapts and is forced to make impossible decisions.
Even if you don’t love Clarke as much as I do, it’s not a problem because there are so many other fantastic characters. My own list of favorite characters is six people deep and I’d be hard-pressed to choose between them to pick an actual favorite. If you love character growth, this is a show for you. These characters grow and change in ways that are sometimes very dramatic and sudden but always consistent with what we know about them and what they’ve been through. Their opinions and actions change because that’s what a fight for survival calls for. It’s amazing to watch and occasionally heartbreaking and continues to enhance the journey we are taking with these characters.
The second biggest selling point of the show for me is that at its core, this is a show about relationships. The setting of the show may be post-apocalyptic and the actions that drive the plot undoubtedly grim at times, but they are not what the show is about. Everything these characters do is driven by their feelings and responsibilities to others – for better or worse. Without the underlying relationships, there would be no story. I need relationships in order to be fully engaged with a story in general and the ones on this show are amazingly fulfilling. Abby’s desire to protect Clarke informs everything she does and Clarke’s complicated feelings about her never take away from the love she has for her as her mother. Clarke and Raven’s friendship would be amazing and supportive taken in isolation but is made even more remarkable by the fact that they were on opposing sides of a love triangle. Bellamy’s unending need to take care of Octavia and the way that has manifested and changed throughout the series as she becomes a warrior in her own right is always heartwarming. And none of those even get into Clarke’s most popular romantic options, each of which has their share of ardent fans who have been deeply touched by what they see depicted between Clarke and one (or sometimes more) of Finn, Bellamy, or Lexa.
Third, this seems like a simple reason to start watching, but it needs to be said. This show is good in ways that you (or at least I) would never have imagined from seeing the pilot. It surprises you with what it’s willing to do and put these characters through. It has momentum and makes you want to keep watching. It’s dark, as is fitting with what is popular in TV right now, but it never feels bleak. It gives you characters to root for and rarely loses sight of who they are.
Finally, if you like shows that bring up issues and lead to fantastic discussions, you should probably start watching this at your next available opportunity (and also start Battlestar Galactica which addresses many of the same issues). It asks questions about survival. What is is acceptable to do in the name of survival? Can sacrificing one or a few people for the good of many ever be the right choice? Is there room for love when you’re fighting for your life? Should the goal be only to survive or should we still try to thrive and live in harsh environments? Can we go far as to be unworthy of survival? How do you lead when the fate of your people rests in your hands? It never gives us any answers and often the characters themselves won’t agree on the answers. But it forces viewers to ask those questions and empathize with other positions than their own. It encourages debate and for me, that is the most exciting thing. I won’t often recommend comment sections on show reviews, but the discussions in the season 2 reviews of this show on The AV Club were nearly as fulfilling to me as the show itself.
If any of what I said sounds at all appealing to you and you have some time in your TV schedule, do yourself a favor and check out this great show. Give it a little bit of time to find itself and your patience will be rewarded. Let yourself fall in love with these characters and their relationships with each other.