Screen / The 100

The 100‘s Biggest Problem is That It’s A CW Show

The 100‘s biggest problem is that it’s on the CW. This can be said for many of the shows on the network which is often more concerned with its shallow romantic drama and making sure everyone onscreen is at least somewhat attractive than constructing a coherent and compelling story. There’s little in the way of originality in the conceit of teenagers being left to their own devices and behaving either stupidly or ignorantly, at their own expense and that of others. The whole show can essentially be summed up to the sequence aboard the ship carrying them to Earth, when two of the kids decide to get out of their seats during their tumultuous landing and one of them dies when they finally hit the ground because they’re more fueled by being teenagers, which on this show is apparently synonymous with stupid, than any kind of common sense.

Everything’s also one huge party. When Octavia got off the ship, her moment of awe at the surrounding wilderness was wrapped up with her “We’re back bitches!”, and that’s pretty much all anyone got from their entire experience after watching one of their comrades die and all. It’s not strange to see all those kids being excited to be on Earth, which they’ve only heard to be a nuclear wasteland, but there’s a fairly thick line between excitement and ignorance. I’d rather eat food and live than party. And what kind of party is it gonna be anyway when you have nothing?

Teenagers can be stupid, sure. I was one only about three years ago so I can attest to this fact, but teenagers aren’t so stupid that they would ignore necessary steps to stay alive. It was like pulling teeth for the kids to grasp that they were gonna get hungry and want to eat. Why it was so hard is a mystery since if there’s anything teenagers will get it’s the concept of food. But The 100 coasts along on the premise of the one hundred juvenile delinquents, sent to Earth to test how habitable it is after being completely irradiated, being too dense to do plenty of things, including survive. Gotta eat? Whatever. Gotta go somewhere to get the food? Whatever. Send people you claim to hate to do so and simply trust them to come back. Who cares? Survival? Not a big deal. Whatever the hell we want.

Maybe I was just mature for my age, but there’s no way I wouldn’t make an immediate beeline for the mountain with all the food in it in favor of sitting around on a rock.

Clarke Griffin (Eliza Taylor) is the same so basically she shouldn’t be on this show, since she has actual priorities which include not engaging in a romance with the long-haired guy who’s only cute and dangerous because he has long hair (though she will inevitably do so because it’s the CW). Instead she’s stuck on the actual act of getting them through this exercise in one piece. As far as main characters go, Clarke’s a decent one, though there’s little to her character in the way of complexity thus far.

It’s a CW show after all so complexity isn’t what the network is after. All the characters exist as types, though there is potential for them to become more fleshed out if, and only if, the show takes the time to do so. So far most of the characters can be succinctly defined in terms of D&D’s character alignments. Clarke is a Neutral Good person who wanted to warn the people of the Ark about their dwindling resources against the orders of the people in charge, a stance that got her father executed and her locked up. Wells is Lawful Good, following the laws despite how bad they may be, turning in Clarke’s father and getting him killed. Finn is Chaotic Good, doing his own thing sometimes with bad results but mostly not being a bad guy to have around.

More chaotic, but not necessarily evil are Bellamy and Octavia, who are known for being of the family that broke the one-child rule. Bellamy (Bob Morley) came down to protect his sister, attempting to kill the Chancellor on his way and starts the big rebellion against the Ark and their vital-recording waistbands on the ground. Octavia may lean closer to True Neutral since she’s neither good nor bad but really just looking to have some freedom after being locked up for her entire life (she was the second child whose existence was prohibited).

Bellamy and Octavia are essentially the faces of the effects of the Ark’s dystopian regime, orphans after their mother’s execution and having been apart for a year after Octavia’s discovery. Bellamy’s hatred of the Ark makes sense, though it’s not the only reason he’s leading the charge against him (since people from the Ark coming to Earth would mean execution for him after his attempt on the Chancellor), and it doesn’t make sense how he thinks everyone – including him – are going to be A-okay caring not at all about living on the planet. That being said, with Bellamy there are the beginnings of a complicated examination of motives and actions, but they get lost in the shuffle of The 100‘s interest in watching their twenty-something actors pretend to punch each other. They’ll probably be forced to get their acts together once they all start being impaled with spears by the planet’s mysterious locals (RIP Jasper).

On the Ark things are a little muddier in the character department. Since they’re the adults, The 100 seems to be leaving all the complicated things to them for the moment. While Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) is just happy to kill anyone who disagrees with his opinions, Clarke’s mother Abby (Paige Turco) is a doctor looking to keep him at bay even breaking the law to save the wounded Chancellor (Isiah Washington) from death. He and Cece (Kelly Hu) got the short stick in characterization in the pilot and here’s hoping The 100 rectifies that sooner rather than later.

Though The 100 doesn’t scream anything hyper-original, or even seem to want to, it’s not a bad show. Most of its issues are predictable ones, ones that will either stick with the show for the duration of its run or get ironed out later, but aren’t immediately off-putting unless one is simply tired of seeing the same formulas play out. It could coast along with hints of CW mediocrity or ascend past the limitations of its network. It wouldn’t be the first show to do so as Arrow and Reign are both making valiant attempts (with one having more success than the other), and the cancelled Nikita did so it before it was shafted. Or it could go the other route and latch onto the incoherency, lacking character development and contrived plot points of other CW shows which doesn’t necessarily mean failure since The Vampire Diaries is still on.

Stray Observations

  • I know us younguns like to behave recklessly and text and all that, but I mean…I doubt any of us would take off our seatbelts while we’re hurtling to the ground in a space ship.
  • The opening music sounded very reminiscent of The Hunger Games. Maybe this was intentional since The 100 is based off another YA novel with dystopic leanings which, in the language of the entertainment industry, means it is just like The Hunger Games.
  • I know these kids never saw Anaconda, but are you telling me none of their grandparents told them of the gem of a movie that had Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube surviving a giant snake in the Amazon river? They would have been far more prepared for the snake that attacked Octavia if they had. I was instantly suspicious, but Octavia was all too happy to jump into that water.
  • Speaking of that snake, good on the show for letting it exist beneath the murky water as a fast-moving shadow instead of trying to show it. Let’s keep the poor special effects to a minimum, please.
  • Clark: “I wonder why haven’t we seen any animals. Maybe it’s because there are none. Maybe we’ve already been exposed to enough radiation to kill us. Sure is pretty though.” Her priorities are just too sound for this show.
  • It took me a minute to convince myself to give this show a shot hence the late review.

Leave your thoughts in the comments.


2 thoughts on “The 100‘s Biggest Problem is That It’s A CW Show

  1. Pingback: The 100 “Earth Skills” Review | Channel Chelsea

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