Forget Prom, the ultimate high school social fantasy is Thunderdome. From Hunger Games to all the shows about dating vampires, teen fantasy goes arm in arm with the death wish.
Allow me to play armchair psychologist (warning: I am not a psychologist, but I am clenching a pipe in my smiling mouth right now) and posit that this is because everything FEELS life or death for teens. Tanya didn't ask you to be badminton partners? Your mom won't let you borrow the Arrowstar? JUST LET ME DIE ALREADY. So in actual do-or-die situations at least the rest of the world is finally on your same page.
That's why The 100 is maybe the perfect teen drama, a stunning mix of woodland games and dating drama. If you ever went to a Nature's Classroom type retreat in middle school and played "Predator Prey" in the woods, or color games at camp, or heck, if you just played tag with some friends in the dark aged 13-20, you understand the sensibility of The 100 already. It's a bunch of horny teens in the woods with a base, no rules, and countless enemies waiting in the trees. It's Nature's Classroom + murder.
Officially the premise is all the parents are on a spaceship that is basically Battlestar Galactica and they shot the kids (all, to a man, juvenile delinquents) down onto Earth to try and repopulate it, assuming the fallout and mutated animals and "grounders" on its surface from a nuclear holocaust 97 years ago don't get 'em first.
This week the drama centers on how Raven, a super brainy engineering genius girl, has rebound sex with mean guy Bellamy. Last week she broke things off with boyfriend Finn, because Finn secretly loves Clarke, a girl whose mom was a doctor so she keeps having to operate on dying teens even though she herself emphatically is not (stressful). To me Clarke looks like the love child of Reese Witherspoon and Kristen Stewart.
The woodland games this week: some jackass put too much wood on the fire down at the teen's makeshift smokehouse (LOL) and burned all their jerky, so everyone has to go hunting, even though they're in a guerrilla war with Grounders right now.
The hunting parties are formed exactly like lab groups in biology. A gawky guy approaches Clark to partner up and then Finn joins up too and immediately gawky kid is a third wheel, but he doesn't suffer long because obviously he's just been written in so he can get shot and create suspense for our two leads, who are immediately kidnapped by Grounders.
A heretofore unseen Lady Grounder with statement eyeliner and intense side braids captures Clark and Finn and leads them to a dying little girl and tells Clark to fix her or they'll kill her handsome boyfriend! And Clarke fixes her, right?
WRONG! The 100 excels at letting its characters fail. A lot. Morally, physically, spiritually these kids goof up, as teens do, except they are in a survival situation so it's not just Tyler pants-ing Cesar in homeroom and making him cry, it's Bellamy and Clarke brutally torturing a Grounder with a car battery. (Yes, that happened.)
Don't get me wrong: just because the kids fuck up does not mean the show, at any given moment, feels any bit real. Everyone has had their hair freshly blown out. Everyone is wearing 18 items from Hollister at all times, especially shirts with sleeves down to the knuckles. Walkie Talkies with two dials are made in the space of 45 minutes. It's stupidly pretty and the science is silly, with a watercolor wash of muddy grit over it all. These aren't complaints.
So a 12-year-old bleeds out despite a long arduous operation scene with Clarke, and Finn is led off to be murdered, I guess. Does Clarke strike a deal with the Grounders? Does she give a stirring speech on their common humanity? Does she knock out the guard and go save Finn?
Nope. She slits her guard's throat and runs out to the woods and immediately steps in a Grounder trap, goes flying up in the air and is left swinging upside down from a Sequoia. She acts sort of selfish and fucks up! Refreshing.
Meanwhile up in the sky the space parents are having to Die Hard it through the Battleship because a pod detached wrong and now all the lights are out and no one has enough oxygen. One guy looks like Dustin Hoffman, one guy looks like David Arquette but they are not those people. Y'all know how to spell imdb, right? I don't know. My brains shut off when the parents get involved, just like when I was a teenager back in the '60s.
No but seriously the parental actors are great. Gaeta is even onboard.
The salient point I want you to take away is: if you want to reconnect with that primal part of your brain that wanted nothing more than to run through the woods in a pair of damp sneakers, breath rattling in your ears, half-hoping/half-fearing your crush would barrel out of the woods and tag you hard with both hands, watch The 100. It has my sex-and-death-and-teens stamp of approval.
[Image via CW ]