The 100 is a must-watch show when it comes to empowerment.
The 100 pulled off a huge feat and managed to get into the top 20 of most watched shows of 2017. For its considerably smaller budget than some of the titles, it was a coup. The reason this show is picking up attention is because of the way it portrays young adults.
The show is hugely political. The 100 has different clans and factions all vying for power. It’s just as gory as Game of Thrones, but with stronger writing. The fact it’s a young adult show tends to cause it to be overlooked, but its content can rival even the best out there right now. The driving characters though are always the young adults.
In fact, the older adults don’t usually do much but get in the way. The show starts with the older generations sending teenagers and children to Earth to see if “the ground” can be lived on and if they can all leave space. The younger generations are tasked with getting everything set up, so that older people can come down and rule them all. It shows the inherent devaluing of young people – but the hundred use this as an opportunity, and by the time the adults get to Earth (after blowing up part of their own spaceship) it’s young people who are setting the tone. The adults can barely keep up.
Even with the grounder clans, it’s still young adults who are ruling. They’re all in their twenties while older grounders are often pushed aside, ignored or give terrible advice. Older generations consistently screw up. Whether that’s the older generations of the Mountain Men waging war, Jaha risking everyone’s lives time and again, Titus getting his own Commander killed due to his hatred of a young bi woman (who happens to be a damn good leader for ‘Skaikru’) or the adults generally being incompetent. It is the young people who have to constantly save them or deal with the repercussions of their often calamitous mistake.
When the older guard of Skaikru shot the lead of Trikru, it was the young people who negotiated with the Grounders and brought about peace. It was the younger members of Skaikru who ended the bloody war with the (older adult) Mountain Men while an older woman was being tortured.
That’s not to say there aren’t good older characters. Indra is one of the best and most underrated characters around, and Kane helps bring a philosophical balance to the show as he pushes for peace while so often everyone else is gearing up for war. Older adults too have their place on the show. They’ve also given some of the best moments there have been, such as when Abbey faced lashings by Kane, or Jaha’s trip to the City of Light (which had its issues, but the cinematography was utterly stunning).
However, it is young adults who are the heart of the show. The 100 is giving power back to millennials and generation z. They’re casting young people as leaders, and show older people as too often stuck in their ways and traditions to be able to bring about progress. The different generations do need each other; they help balance each other out. Yet, ultimately its an exploration of young people without barriers. They’re away from any kind of life we know and have leadership thrust upon them, and while the circumstances are horrible, they keep making good calls and keep standing strong even when the worst happens to them.
“It is young adults who are the heart of the show”
There have been dark moments. There was an exploration of mental health which culminated in the suicide of one of the main characters. There has also been an incredible depiction of the realities of chronic pain by another main cast member. The show came under fire for queer representation when it killed off Lexa, but in its place it showed Clarke explore a nuance relationship with Niylah. It wasn’t love, but Niylah did matter, and it showed the freedom of Clarke’s bisexuality and the complicated nature of relationships. So often young people in TV are denied this and relationships are made overly simplistic. The death of Lexa may never be made up for to some fans, but queer content does persist and the show gives it complexity in each of its guises.
Whether it’s through politics, building bombs, coming up with the most sci-fi plans ever, or sword fighting, young people are winning the day. It’s about time we had a show like The 100 empowering young people.