It needs to be said a thousand times, The 100 is one of the best hidden gems on TV these days. The show appears to be overlooked as just another CW offering full of pretty people trying to capitalize on a recent trend (superheroes, then vampires, now the post-apocalypse!). But it’s a lot more than that.
There are many reasons the show is great, first and foremost the pacing which presents mysteries and their answers at almost lightning speed, and with a short, tight first season, there wasn’t a second of the show wasted on filler, which is something you can’t often say these days.
But today I want to focus on one aspect of the show specifically, namely its lead, Eliza Taylor as Clark Griffin. Part of the 100 teens sent down to test the surface of Earth for habitability, Clarke is the de facto leader of the group even if there are dozens of strong burly dudes who seem like they type that should be leading a post-apocalyptic society. And yet, Clarke takes exactly zero crap from anyone, and defies nearly every gender stereotype in existence.
It’s easy to have flashbacks to another strong, blonde sci-fi hero, Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck. She wasn’t immune to love, but she didn’t need to be, and was one of the best characters on the show without question. Certainly the toughest at the very least.
That wasn’t necessarily the case early on with Clarke, as she was a bit weepy and a bit boy crazy in the first few episodes. I feel like the show felt like it had to start in typical “young adult” fashion with love triangles and the like but once it found its groove? It’s mostly left all that behind.
Clarke soon grew into a capable leader that was mostly unquestioned by the other kids. She turned rivals into friends, and took the fight to the Grounders when need be. And now? She’s just completely and utterly awesome.
Yes, she does have a search party of love interests out looking to save her from what they assume is a Grounder holding cell, but what has Clarke been doing in the meantime?
She single-handedly escaped from the mountain vault clan when she discovered they were harvesting Grounder blood to treat their injuries. She rescued a Grounder princess and outsmarted the cannibalistic Reapers. And then when the Grounder turned on her, she bested her in a straight-up street brawl that ended with Clarke full of knife wounds, but the Grounder nearly unconscious as Clark bashed her skull with an actual skull she found lying on the ground.
Simply put, this girl is amazing. She’s a blend of traditional female TV tropes (gorgeous with blonde hair and blue eyes), yet she never plays that up and is constantly covered in mud, blood or bruises, just like every guy on the show. Her actions show she’s no damsel to be saved, and she’s managed to do one of the most hardcore things of any character on the show so far.
She’s kind of the anti-typical young adult heroine in many ways. The “love story” is like the fourth or fifth most important subplot of the show, rather than it being the primary focus,. Clarke gets toughed up within the first few episodes, and doesn’t need to rely on some guy to “teach her how to fight” while simultaneously falling in love with him.
The show is not free of that trope (or many others) as that situation literally describes Octavia learning to become a warrior while being trained be Lincoln, her Grounder lover, but Clark is mostly free of stereotypical plotlines like that. She’s science-minded, can brawl with the best of them, is a natural leader, and yeah, has sex if she feels like it. Sex and love don’t need to be off limits to create a “strong” female character, they just have to be handled in a way that doesn’t make it the sole reason her character exists.
It’s just nice to see a “Starbuck type” on the air again. No, I don’t think that The 100 is as good a show as Battlestar Galactica, even if it is better than most would assume, but it does a lot of things right and is worth checking out if you’re a sci-fi fan. Don’t think you’re too cool for it just because it’s on the CW. Trust me, you want to meet Clarke.
[Photos via The CW]