NYTW: Women lead post-apocalyptic society on ‘The 100’

Will Hyde

“The 100” is a young adult-oriented drama checkered with futuristic elements immersed in rustic pre-civilized scenery. It’s an odd pairing that works to create a world truly on the edge of revival and destruction. The show follows humanity’s effort at rebuilding life after nuclear fallout nearly a century prior. 

The world, since the destruction, is split into multiple societies, some of which are still unknown. The series highlights characters mostly belonging to the sky-people and the grounders. 

Recently finishing its second season, the latest chapter is almost exclusively framed around an impending conflict with another surviving tribe known as the mountain men. The two groups, sky-people and grounders must work to fight the enemy of their enemy, despite mutual distrust.

“100” provides an interesting dystopia— one where women play vital roles in society. In many apocalyptic societies, such as “The Walking Dead” and its patriarch Rick, men take aggressive leadership roles and supplement specialized skills to survive. In this series, women have picked up the most demanding and powerful positions while men are often seated in the background or working menial jobs. Both the sky-people and grounders are led by women commanders each of which are sided with female officers and captains. Clarke and her mom, Abbey, have taken a pseudo-presidential role while Lexa and her female warrior chiefs lead the grounders. 

Clarke Griffin, the most central character of the show has become a symbol for the struggling sky-people as they go from dying on a space station in orbit to dying on the earth’s surface. The sky-people have dealt with many, almost endless issues on their journey back to the surface, and Clarke has become the face of hard decisions and sacrifice. 

Lexa, the newly appointed grounder chief is the reflection of Clarke. In most ways they are alike— reasonable and determined. They both will do anything to protect their own. But they also symbolize different approaches in leadership. Clarke is determined to protect everyone, while Lexa aims for the greater good. 

In the context of the many skirmishes surrounding all three groups, the show manages to focus on a single issue: the ethics of leadership. “The 100” seems to ask the question ‘what would you do for the people you love?’ The answer is not always simple. The main characters struggle to maintain their humanity as they are forced into detestable situations, impossible decisions and heart breaking sacrifices.

The sky-people and the grounders, much like their leaders, are mirror images of one another. Though both are steeped in masculine social ideals like strength, war and stoicism— the two tribes are actually led almost exclusively by tough young women. 

Women are not just limited to leadership— many of the most vital players in each society are women who have specialized, limited skills. For grounders, Raven is a top-grade engineer and technician, Octavia is a bonafide warrior and grounder ambassador and Abby is the most skilled doctor on earth at this point (when she’s not fulfilling her presidential duties). 

The show makes larger gender distinctions— the main groups, the sky-people and the grounders, who are arguably the protagonists of the second season, are directly opposite the new antagonists, the mountain men. The mountain men are headed by a series of manly forces— even their tribal name is masculine. The men took a military base when the nuclear fallout began and held steadfast ever since. Because they have failed to adapt to life in the atomic wasteland, they lack the strength and malleability of the female-led sky-people and grounders. In perhaps the strongest feminist angle of the show, the female leaders are juxtaposed with the mountain president, Dante, his son Cage and the legion of army men bunkered in the underground base. The show adds two differing representations of gender- the females lead adaptable societies that survive pragmatically while the men lack versatility and stagnate. 

The season ended on an emotional level that left viewers nervous about the future between Clarke and Lexa. The two forged a shaky alliance late in the season, and though the loyalty and romance brewing between the two chiefs seemed strong, Lexa broke her promise in a final selfish move to save her abducted people. Just like that, “The 100” ended the season untying all the knots viewers so frantically put together. We can just hope that Clarke and Lexa can move forward and be the adorable couple we all want them to be.