Why I love and hate “The 100”: THE WRITING

WARNING: Major spoilers for Season 1 of “The 100” ahead

As I said last time, I like watching this show. It takes a lot for me to commit to a TV show and I watched this show’s entire first season with nary a complaint. With few complaints. With a moderate amount of complaints. I LIKED IT, I SWEAR.

Just as a comparison, there are plenty of “guilty pleasure” shows (“Parks and Recreation,” “10th Kingdom”) and critically-acclaimed shows (“Attack on Titan,” “Skins,” “Misfits”) that I haven’t been able to get into. This show held my attention for 13 45-minute episodes thanks to its excellent writing. That’s saying something.

Since we are talking about the writing today, let’s get the bad parts out of the way.

THE WRITING
Bad: Oh goodness. I’ve already talked major smack about the first three episodes and now I can talk about why I hated them. My biggest beef was with the dialogue. I could predict what each character would say before they said it; I’m sure my neighbors loved hearing me spout cheesy schlock to my TV only for my TV to repeat it back. My accuracy was at least 95%.

I talked about this in more detail, so I’ll only briefly mention some of the “good guys” the writers have failed to humanize. I knew I was supposed to hate Bellamy, Kane, and Murphy–and I did–but Abby, Clarke, and Finn didn’t provide much of a contrast. It became a game of “Which Side Do I Hate the Least?” That can work when ambiguity is intentional; not so much in a show that–at least in the beginning–has clear good guys and bad guys. Once episode three rolled around, however…

Good: It takes a lot to surprise me. I typically see through “subtle” foreshadowing, I eat spoilers for breakfast, and the show’s clumsy attempts at shock were less than impressive.

Yawn.

I knew Wells’ tensions with Murphy and Bellamy would eventually come to a head, especially after Wells beat up Murphy.

Then Wells was killed by a little girl and I had never been angrier.

I get suspicious when a character dies. I’ve cried–or cheered–over character deaths, only for said character(s) to return with some implausible explanation.

When Wells died, I waited. He couldn’t really be dead. Yes, I’d watched him bleed out while Charlotte delivered a terrible monologue. Sure, his severed fingers were laying on the ground. Okay, people don’t generally recover from fatal stab wounds. This was different, though. Surely, if I watched the next episode, Wells would be okay.

At the VERY START of the next episode, Clarke and Finn visited Wells’ grave. The writers didn’t include the part where the others found his body and dug a grave because they didn’t need to – WELLS WAS FOR SURE DEAD.

I have to admire “The 100” for killing off a main character. So far, the writers haven’t said, “Just kidding!” and brought him back. Killing Wells showed they mean business, and I respect that.

With Wells dead, however, there was one less reason for me to watch the show. I was still rooting for the kids to die and, to be honest, the premise was kind of silly. The show responded to my skepticism by providing all sorts of interesting relational conflict.

There are certain kinds of conflicts I can’t watch (e.g., father-child conflicts), but there are other types I find compelling. “The 100” unleashed brother-sister conflict, mother-daughter conflict, threw in some ship tease, and served up a delicious emotionally-distressing cocktail. And all this conflict lead to character development–finally! Octavia’s friction with Bellamy made her less of an annoying twit once her background was shown. Bellamy’s guilt came back to haunt him, making room for a friendship–and possibly more–with Clarke. Clarke’s likeability increased when she confronted her terrible mom for killing her dad.

One of these people I sympathize with. The other is a murderer.

The show’s greatest strength is its characters’ struggles. Every time I roll my eyes and tell myself I’m going to stop watching, I get sucked in by a redemption arc or an ethical dilemma.

Hmm…to torture or not to torture? 

Speaking of, the torture scene led to my FAVORITE kind of relational conflict: sexual tension.

Hoo boy.

Next post: THE ROMANCE

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