The holidays are almost upon us -- which to most people means chestnuts on fires and jingling bells and last-minute shopping, but I happen to view this magical season as my free time to catch up on a show I've been missing while all of my stories are on hiatus.
Lucky for me, I got started a bit early on my holiday binge this year, and chose my new story very, very wisely. You might have heard by now that The CW's "The 100" is worth your watch, and I'm just here -- a day late, and a dollar short -- to let you know that this post-apocalyptic adventure drama will consume your soul until all 20 episodes have been binged, and even your Seamless app doesn't want to deal with you anymore. Here's why:
It's the closest thing we have to new "Battlestar Galactica."
In many ways, "The 100" could easily be called a lite -- but not too lite -- version of the 2004 remake of "BSG." (And to hammer this point home, know that Ellen Tigh and Felix Gaeta are in it.)
"BSG" was a space opera about a group of post-apocalyptic survivors struggling to rebuild society and find meaning after their species was wiped out. "The 100" is also about a group of post-apocalyptic survivors struggling to rebuild society and find meaning after their species was wiped out, but without the deeply religious motifs and heavy mythology -- which was often a misfire, anyway.
Instead of all that, while the adult leaders of the space station ("the Ark") deal with the nuts and bolts of saving the human race decades after a nuclear event made earth uninhabitable from above, 100 youths lead the charge of recolonizing Earth down below. There's a ton of politics -- most of the youths were prisoners, deemed expendable by The Ark and forced to head to a dangerous Earth since there isn't enough oxygen to sustain its population -- but there's also a very exciting, "Lost"-esque element to what's happening on the ground.
Which brings us to...
It moves fast.
"The 100" has been consistently bold in its storytelling. Supposed main characters die unceremoniously very early on, and the story moves about as fast as a slap in the face -- if we're still going with the "BSG" comparison here, think "33" fast.
There's no meandering down at Earth camp while the 100 ponder what it means to be human, because with the survivors of the nuclear holocaust ("Grounders") lurking nearby and natural threats killing teens at every turn, there's just no time. Those big, moral decisions are not taken lightly, but they're made at a breakneck pace. Each episode feels like a solid chapter in an epic adventure, with new threats and locations added in to make it feel like the audience is jumping in a pool of ice-cold water.
It keeps the stakes high.
"The 100" isn't the kind of post-apocalyptic show where you can bet that your favorites are safe just because their names are in the credits. At a time when many programs for teens -- even the ones that take place in a dangerous universe -- shy away from death, it's honestly refreshing to watch something where the high stakes feel earned.
There's no killing a character then quickly resurrecting them for the sake of emotional manipulation on "The 100." Real life doesn't work like that, and most of the time, neither should television -- so kudos to producer Jason Rothenberg and the writers for finding a way to tell a smart, dangerous story without resorting to the same old tricks.
It has a diverse cast and a strong heroine.
Well look at that -- a sci-fi/adventure show that puts women and people of color on the forefront and is completely kick-ass and awesome. Take note, movie studios!
But seriously, all social justice warrior anguish aside, Eliza Taylor's Clarke makes for a really solid heroine on "100." She's headstrong, intelligent, a natural leader, and has sex with a boy she likes for pleasure without being portrayed as a Jezebel by the show's writers. (Again, take note, movie studios!) Clarke is the perfect badass to lead the 100 down on Earth -- while her mother Abby (Paige Turco) tries to use her intelligent, nurturing spirit to guide the Ark's two male leaders from above.
It's also great that the Ark -- which is made up of descendants of the UK, the States, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, India, Russia, Venezuela, France, Brazil, and Uganda -- is actually diverse. 97 years after the holocaust these populations have managed to mate and merge, so a good portion of the cast (besides the blonde haired, blue-eyed Taylor) is biracial.
Though of course everybody is still absurdly gorgeous. This is The CW, after all.
Its love stories aren't dumb.
At one point in the first season, a love triangle begins to emerge -- and when I watched it, I was temporarily terrified that the two female characters involved (Clarke and Lindsey Morgan's Raven) would be defined solely by their relationships with this boy and behave terribly towards each other, since this seems to be the norm in popular media.
Lucky for me (and viewers who like intelligent television), Clarke and Raven didn't linger around and pine for Finn (Thomas McDonell). Instead, they dealt with their issue quickly and openly, then moved on with their pioneering, Grounder-ass-kicking lives.
None of the romantic relationships on the show feel forced, and they even manage to acknowledge the fact that teenagers have sex with each other (especially if they all live together with no parental guidance on a scorched Earth colony) without turning things into a PSA, after school special.
Desmond from "Lost" is in it.
You know you missed him, Brotha.