For the uninitiated, the show is about a future human civilization who fled to a space station (the Ark) to escape Earth’s radiation after nuclear war. As the show opens, all of that is several generations in the past—but now, the Ark is running out of oxygen, so humanity’s leadership decides to send 100 teen delinquents to the ground to see if Earth is survivable. Not only is it, but the 100 aren’t the only ones there! The human race has splintered into 3 (maybe 4) groups.
I think what impresses me the most is the unexpected depth of the show, the plot and the writing, week in and week out. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “It’s on the CW,” how deep can it be. Well, you just watch missies and misters! As a writer, I hardcore admire this show’s writers because, man, they are FEARLESS. They throw in twists and character deaths and dark no-win situations like it’s going out of style. It’s not an exaggeration to say there are at least one or two breathless viewer moments each week.
But what keeps me coming back without a doubt are the characters (I’m holding in the fangirl squeeing, guys. It’s hard.). I have never seen so many badass lady characters all in one place before in my life!! Let’s review:
Clarke Griffin – I’ve joked with friends that I would name my daughter after Clarke. It is only partially a joke. This girl is a leader with a capital L. She takes no shit from anyone, tells it like it is, and faces danger and challenge head on to protect those around her, all while managing to keep a sense of vulnerability, fallibility and humanity. Gah, I love her!
Octavia Blake – Octavia’s perhaps the best example of what makes The 100 so different from any other show. On other shows, Octavia would simply be the sexy popular girl, who occasionally shows toughness but mostly needs others around her to do the rescuing. Ha! She may hover in that arena for the pilot episode, but the gal’s got guts and she’s not afraid to use them. She takes risks, fights (No, not just a well-timed punch or two. The scrappy kind of fighting that leaves you bloodied and makes you get up again…and again…and again), and frankly wows just about everyone around her, fellow 100ers and Grounders alike. I also love the relationships she brings to the show—her sister-brother bond with Bellamy is real and tough and so, so strong, and she is probably the most constant and reliable friend for all of her fellow 100ers
Raven Reyes – Raven is the toughest of the tough. She’s a straight arrow and always comes through. A talented mechanic, she builds her own pod to get from the Ark to Earth to join The 100, AND she devises a boatload of other cool weapons and tech from the scanty found items at the dropship camp. Fever, broken heart, paralyzed leg! Nothing can stop this girl!! Even more so than Clarke or Octavia, she’s a scrapper through and through.
Abby Griffin – Clarke’s mom. Doctor on the Ark. The only one who really believes Earth might be livable at the beginning. It’s her idea to send Raven to the ground. She’s smart, tough and (except where her daughter is concerned) pretty darn comfortable backing the play of various 100ers. Her dialogue and sparring with fellow counselor Kane are always filled with awesome tension.
Misc. Grounder Gals – Anya, Lexa or Indra, take your pick. They’re all slightly crazy, pretty brilliant, hard as nails and 100% complete badass. And, let’s just take a minute to talk about the Grounders’ society. The worldbuilding on this show is strong enough to have developed an entire language for this people. That’s something I love in books, but is rarely done to this extent on television. I am in heaven!!
And, then, of course there’s Bellamy. I think it’s some kind of sin that it’s taken me this long to mention him in this post. Let’s just say that if none of the above reasons existed, I’d watch the show for him alone. Not just because, well, um, yeah, but because he has an incredible character arc.
I *get* characters like him and Clarke. They’re my favorite kinds of heroes and heroines whether on page or screen—leaders who understand all too well the price of leadership, but lead anyway because someone has to and they see their responsibility to others as higher than their concern for self. Ah, that is just all kinds of YES! I will follow leaders like that anywhere.
Bellamy starts out as a bit of a jerk who smuggled his way onto the drop ship to look out for his sister, Octavia (Kids are monitored closely on the Ark, so they’re the only set of siblings on the show), and is driven largely by his fear of being discovered. By the end of season 1, with a lot of help from Clarke, he’s transformed into this amazing, confident and kick-ass version of that earlier guy. He does the hard stuff, the things no one else wants to do, but that have to be done, and he has a heart of utter freaking gold.
The other 100ers–Lincoln, Finn, Jasper, Monty and even Murphy–each have their shining moments on the guys’ side. The Jasper and Monty friendship is one of my favorite aspects of the show. And, an aspect I really, really enjoy (and am constantly surprised by given its network) is the fact that the parent / adult storylines often are just as engaging as the 100’s.
Often, especially in YA, adults are relegated to the sidelines or seen more as enemies or obstacles than anything else. But on this show, I’m cheering just as hard for Abby or Kane or Jaha (okay, maybe not as hard for Jaha), as I am for the others. I’ve mentioned Abby already, but I must say Kane’s season 1 character arc was almost as incredible to watch as Bellamy’s. The strength of the character development is more what I’d expect to see from a book than from a TV show. I love it!!
Speaking of which, the show IS based off a book. I haven’t read it yet and—I can’t believe I’m going to say this—but I’m not sure I want to read it. The show has won my heart in a big way, and I’m a little scared to re-imagine those beloved characters on page because I know they won’t be the same.
So, there you have it, my resounding fangirl endorsement for The 100. Go catch the first season on Netflix and, if you’re not already 150% convinced the show will be awesome, go check out Sarah Rees Brennan’s parodies. Priceless!