Where to Watch: Netflix
Pilot: November 25, 2016
Most Recent (TV): April 27, 2018
Season 2, Episode 10, Blood
Genre: Sci-Fi, Drama, Thriller
My Rating: 8.2 /10
Overview: What makes a TV series awesome? An elusive question, attempted to be answered by many great minds throughout the history of time. I believe there are 7 key characteristics, and I can demonstrate them in this review of the Netflix series, 3%.
In a dystopian future, people live in poverty — except those worthy enough to join the affluent, bountiful Offshore, as determined in the Process, a series of tests each person completes at the age of 20. But it’s not as shiny and clean as it seems, and the show follows a cast of characters with a range of ideas, including those following the revolutionary Cause, those loyal to the Process, and every feeling in between. Warning: the show is Brazilian, so you can watch it dubbed in English, but expect that their mouths don’t always sync up with their voices.
- The plot: 7.5
- it must be developed and well thought-out. It doesn’t have to be incredibly complicated, many simple plots can be compelling too, it just has to be true. Oftentimes, it’s incredibly obvious when the writers didn’t realize they would get another season, or sequel, and the plot is suddenly this totally new, disjointed thing that has nothing to do with the rest of the show. Either plan ahead, or end the show when the story is done.
- The plot seems pretty well thought-out, we definitely see a scope of characters and viewpoints and there’s tons going on in every episode. Although, it can be a bit inconsistent and jumpy. For example, I’m not really sure what Aline’s role was other than to add friction, and then she got dealt with pretty swiftly and easily. So that seemed anticlimactic to me. That being said, everything does converge again towards the ends of each season, and the first season finale did an excellent job at wrapping up the strings from it, but still leaving tons of room for season two. It seems like the show was definitely planned, and isn’t scrambling to move the plot along.
- The characters: 8
- Television was originally invented to provide a means to escape reality, although it quickly evolved into a way for society to think about ourselves in a more comfortable way. The longer the show, or movie series, the more the characters need to evolve. They need to show some kind of growth or change. Not only does that help move the plot along, but also because if characters remain the exact same, it’s hard to believe that they’re undergoing the cinematic experiences we’re watching. They need to be introspective, they need to have their own memories. There is nothing more frustrating than watching a character make a choice that is totally at odds with what happened in the last episode. Did you not learn?! Did you not remember that you found out he killed your brother, and that’s why you’re not sleeping with him?!
- Similar to the plot, the characters do evolve but it can be a bit clumsy at times. I feel like they change loyalties very quickly, there isn’t a lot of dissonance. That could be purposeful, because they’re a bunch of 20-something-year-olds and I mean, how loyal and thoughtful are we, really? That being said, once I finished season 2, their behaviors became much clearer in retrospect. I do love the fact that the characters clearly remember everything they’ve gone through, even when the audience actually forgets, and they react to it! Nothing is brushed off. Even secondary characters show a range of emotions and depth, which makes their interactions with the main characters even better.
- The setting: 9
- I think audiences tend to underrate the setting of shows and movies, when the environment is actually a key factor. There is definitely a range of that relevance, of course , but nonetheless, setting matters. It does bother me a bit that they say Greendale is in Colorado, yet Annie wears a sundress and cardigan year-round. We interact with our own environment, where we are in the world is relevant to many of our decisions and actions, so to see characters be totally impervious to the fact that they are in a region famous for any weather type is super frustrating. Yet, the shows and movies where characters are visibly influenced makes the experience that much better.
- The setting, a dystopian world with a poverty-stricken city and an island utopia, is presented beautifully, in my opinion. Both places are thoroughly explored in the show, so that the audience feels like we’re really seeing the whole world rather than a few select streets and buildings. It’s critical that characters interact heavily with this setting, since it’s the basis of the whole plot, and they do. When they’re Inland, they’re dirty, when they’re on the Offshore, they’re clean. The Inland has a harsh sunlight while the Offshore has a gentle, yet clinical, almost-artificial looking light. I cannot find any details I’m unhappy with here.
- The details: 7.5
- We as audience members do not give the jillions of script supervisors, sound operators, costume designers, set constructors, and so on (sorry to my film-focused friends, I don’t know them all) the credit they deserve. We credit directors and producers, and other high-level execs, but we forget that a set has way more than brand-name actors and a guy with a beret and megaphone. But they matter so much, because they pay attention to all the little details that make the best shows and movies consistent and brilliant. I get so annoyed when the details don’t match up, especially because the more complex a show gets, the more they matter! This is for both physical details, like the monitor display of a time machine, but also mental, like information and references. I deeply appreciate how the guests camping in the desert of Westworld overnight wake up still dirty and sweaty. They don’t get cleaned and maintenanced like the hosts do.
- Great attention to physical detail. You’re probably getting a bit of a theme in my review here: I think this show nailed its physical attributes, but did leave a few small holes in the more intellectual aspects of the show. But all the rooms and buildings are extremely well thought-out; I especially love the founders’ bunker-thing that Michele finds because it looks right as it was left in the flashbacks. Very well-done. Also, as I’ve mentioned, for the most part, characters react to their memories and their own details too.
- The logic: 8
- Obviously, Firefly is operating under a different set of rules and physics than our current world. And that’s literally what sci-fi is, so that’s fine. But it’s important that shows and movies remember the world they create for themselves, and the laws within them. I have yet to see a show survive very long, or a movie be received very well, after breaking their own internal logic. We love to see characters solve problems and overcome obstacles, but if suddenly they can magically just keep rewinding time until they do it right, we get pretty bored. There’s no more challenge, no more tension. It makes the scenario unrelatable, and it makes any future plot point far less exciting.
- I’m a bit torn on this point, because there are some very clear laws of the world that are being obeyed, but also some inconsistencies that I’m sure what to blame for — the logic, or the characters. They definitely follow the rules of the blatant technological differences between Inland and Offshore, however, at times the characters would suddenly be able to make radios and hack into systems that they’d never seen before. Or at least, that was my impression. But then, other times, they were totally stumped. So, overall, the logic was followed, but I did see some small holes and jumps.
- The reflection of reality: 8.5
- Despite escapism, and the very definition of “fiction”, humans relate to that which is similar to them. Every conflict is the same: man vs. self, man vs. man, and/or man vs. nature. There’s a reason there’s only 7 story archetypes, and we see them all in real life as well as films. I’m not a juvenile criminal launched from space to a believed-uninhabitable planet, but I definitely understand the conflict between doing what you think is right and doing what everybody else wants you to do. This is a thin line, of course, because if a work is too obvious about paralleling reality, audiences tend to get turned off. Too subtle, and nobody gets it or takes it seriously.
- Dystopian stuff is always rooted in real social issues. 3% is set in an unequal society, with some groups believing the system is fair and right, and others thinking it’s ridiculous. And honestly, by the end of season 2, I’m not even sure which side I’m on. Keep in mind this show is from Brazil, which is rife with social and political inequality, and lots of poverty. Towards the end, there’s also some commentary on humans’ poor resource usage and negligent attitudes towards environmental issues. But the focus is really social and political, and there’s definitely some strong individual messages too — we see the characters struggle to take any side, and then find out that no side is perfectly right. And that our beliefs can change, and can even let us down.
- The cast: 9
- This is different from the characters because I mean the actual, real people. They have to fit the part. Too often, you see a character that is played by some big-name actor, purely because they’ll attract an audience, but they don’t actually fit the character profile at all. It is beautiful to see the Wakandans played by actors/actresses of actual African descent, instead of just “ethnically ambiguous” or really dark white.
- Very diverse, very gorgeous cast. There are multiple ethnicities in both the Offshore and the Inland, which I think also strengthens the reflection of reality — that the issues we face today are above race, they affect all of us.