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Shows you should be watching: 'The 100' on the CW

Clarke Griffin, played by Eliza Taylor, becomes a leader of the 100 teenage criminals sent to Earth to test its habitability after a nuclear war.

CW

Clarke Griffin, played by Eliza Taylor, becomes a leader of the 100 teenage criminals sent to Earth to test its habitability after a nuclear war.

22

February

If you would've told me a few months ago that I'd be hooked to a CW teen drama set on a post-apocalyptic Earth with survival dependent on a not-quite-eighteen-year-old criminal, I'd definitely call you a liar.

But here I am, a month or so after taking the advice of coworkers and family to "catch up on The 100 already."

The concept of The 100 is simple, yet full of drama and politics mixed with romance and a need to survive sans technology. Some 97 years ago, the entire Earth was wrecked by a nuclear apocalypse, leaving its surface uninhabitable because of deadly radiation. Before total devastation, a handful of countries launched space station colonies into space, and eventually linked up to form "The Ark." Unfortunately, after almost 100 years in space, The Ark gets cramped and starts running out of oxygen and supplies.

The council's solution: let's launch 100 teenage criminals onto the Earth's surface to see if it's liveable. Seems like a solid plan. On top of raging hormones and the lack of understanding of anything on Earth, said teenagers are also pretty upset they were dumped onto a hostile planet.

Not only do they need to quickly figure out how to survive outside a space station and deal with a new radiation-plagued Earth, they have to do it all while protecting themselves against the people who actually survived on the planet.

Though never asking to lead, convict Clarke Griffin, played by Eliza Taylor - daughter of a late council member "floated" for treason - finds herself as a source of guidance and medical help as soon as the pod carrying the 100 lands. The group quickly divides between those who want to help The Ark find out if the Earth is safe and those who see this launch as a chance at freedom from the adults who put them in prison.

The survivors aren't friends, and some of them barely know each other. Most only know one another based on the crimes they committed to get there - unauthorized space walks, protecting a sibling from the government's harsh one offspring rule, abuse of precious supplies and oxygen, treason - the list goes on.

The teens are lucky enough to avoid being floated (basically let go outside the space station's airlock without protection) because they are underage. Many of them have parents who have been floated for even minor crimes like stealing.

The little time the show spends on The Ark is still fascinating. For close to 100 years these countries have survived on advanced technology, farming in space, strict guidelines for supply use and a cruel punishment system.

The plot is a pretty wonderful recipe for disaster, based on The 100 book series by Kass Morgan. But a disaster, the show is not. the CW does a great job of making you feel like you're not just watching a bunch of teenagers run around a post-apocalyptic Earth. You're watching teenagers run around a devastated Earth while trying to form some type of government and community system. Naturally, things don't go smoothly.

People die, mutinies happens more times than I can count and promises are broken just as quickly as they are made. Those who survived the drop to Earth are made better or worse because of their situation. They show their true colors when placed under the stress of survival.

As a child of the CW, The 100 still has pitfalls: too many beautiful young people, acting not always the best, unrealistic survival scenarios. But these pitfalls are lost once you're sucked in.

Where the show excels is with the development and destruction of characters. Not one character is inherently good or bad. At some point in the show, every character you hated in the beginning becomes beloved and vice versa. Main character Clarke's transformation from a pseudo-savior and leader into the feared Wanheda is the most fascinating of all. The reveal of Clarke's bisexuality isn't even a reveal. It isn't treated as scandalous or a focal point either, which is refreshing in the world of television drama.

When our writers first suggested this show as binge-worthy sci-fi, Netflix only had season 1. Both the first and second seasons are now available to stream, and new episodes of the third season air on Thursdays at 9 p.m. on the CW.

Contact Chelsea Tatham at ctatham@tampabay.com. Follow @chelseatatham.

[Last modified: Monday, February 22, 2016 4:26pm]

    

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