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Emmy Bait: Why The 100 is a worthy choice

Emmy bait is an article in which a SpoilerTV writer talks about underrated shows that are groundbreaking enough so that they should be considered as possible candidates for major TV awards, more specifically the primetime emmy awards.
This is not a prediction column, just an opinion one, as such it should not be read as nothing more than that.

The Emmy nominations are just around the corner; In a couple of days we will know which shows made it and which shows were ignored.
Nominations are tough, both for the people hoping their shows get nominated and for the people who picks the nomination (there are hundreds of TV shows around, so voting for just a couple of shows must be a herculean job), and more often than not, a show that has high quality, great acting and fairly amazing execution gets snubbed in favor of some other shows, usually the “prestige shows” as they have come to be known.

There are a lot of examples of performances that should have got nominated and didn’t: John Noble’s performance on Fringe was emmy worthy, and so Hugh Dancy’s on Hannibal (which by the way, is another show worthy of an outstanding drama nomination). Shows like The Americans and Rectify are also quite groundbreaking and yet the awards have not lay eyes on them. The Good Wife, which had an excellent 5th season, also didn’t make the cut last year. Even in the technical categories, the clear snub last year was Arrow for outstanding stunt coordination, one of the biggest head scratchers.

I could go on and on about those shows and about a thousand more that were ignored by the emmys as the years go by, but this article isn’t about snubbed shows (though that would be fun to talk about, for sure). This article is about proposing worthy candidates to be considered among the emmys; even if the time for voting has passed, it is always important to bring up these discussions at any time, it’s something worth considering. And as you already deduced from the title, the show I’m going to propose as a candidate for an emmy nomination is The 100.

I can already hear the uproar from Hannibal/The Good Wife/Rectify/The American’s fans, and even the uproar from fans that watch several other shows that they deem worthy of a nomination, but hear me out, there’s a reason I propose The 100 as a worthy candidate.

I imagine there’s people reading this article that has heard of The 100, but never watched it because it airs on The CW, or because they think there’s too much romance and love triangles (something The CW network is renown for) or because it stars fairly young actors that won’t perform as good as the adult cast. Those are the usual misconceptions around The 100, it is what keeps people from watching it, and it is maybe the same misconceptions that could lead emmy voters to pass on it. But that’s what they are: misconceptions.

Does it air on The CW? Yes, but it is fairly different from the usual content of The CW, it could easily air on HBO (though it would add some gratuitous nudity). Does it have love triangles? Yes, but it is a side dish from the story and love triangles are completely dropped later on in the show. Is the young cast bad at acting? Absolutely no. Eliza Taylor and Bob Morley (the show’s 2 leads) have proved to be fairly amazing and have become recognized for the acting skills. The rest of the young is also pretty stellar and they are worth talking about as well.

So now that we got the misconceptions out of the way, let’s talk about the show itself. Let’s pitch it, why is The 100 a worthy candidate for an emmy nomination?

I’d say it is unlike anything else it airs on television, which is true, but on an age of television where there is a wide variety of unique shows (Person of Interest, Game of Thrones, Hannibal, etc), just being different won’t cut it. So I won’t play the “unique” card on The 100, but rather I’ll start with the feminist card.

I may have rose some red flags already just by typing “feminist”, but you should understand “feminist” as a movement that tries to make women in media being understood as equally grounded and as human as men. It’s not about women being better than men, is about both of them being understood as equally complex human beings, and in that regard, The 100 does a stellar job.

Some characters on the show are born out of stereotypes, I won’t deny that, but their evolution is what makes them remarkable. Think about Clarke Griffin; during the pilot she’s a defacto heroine moved only by the motivation of saving everyone because it is the right thing to do. Sounds pretty boring, right? I thought so too during the pilot. But then, as the show grows deeper and complex, so does the characters, and Clarke easily became my favorite character on the show. Why? Because of the layers the show created around her.

It is impossible to describe Clarke in just one adjective. Just saying “she’s strong” falls short, it doesn’t show the moral dilemmas she faces, nor her moments of weakness. It doesn’t show the brief moments she has to laugh or when she has to kill and is haunted about it. It doesn’t show when she falls apart and picks herself right up, it doesn’t show that she cares about people and at the same time that she has enough rage to kill without remorse.

“Strong” can’t even begin to describe Clarke; you’ll need many more adjectives in order to describe her, and that’s remarkable. There are many characters on TV that can be reduced to a single adjective, especially female characters which are usually reserved for mere love plots, but that’s not the case with the women of The 100.

Not just Clarke, but every women of the show is developed into something fairly amazing; Octavia, a girl who didn’t know anything about the world, became a warrior, but one that wasn’t just driven by the battle but one torn about where she fits. Raven, an engineer that fixed everything mechanical and served as love fodder, was allowed to get out of the romance ghetto and develop her own persona, conflicted, somewhat self righteous and determined to win. Abby, the medical chief, who later on steps up as leader and learns that right and wrong are a matter of perception.

There are many more female characters worth talking about (Indra, Lexa, etc), but what I’m getting at, is that The 100 develop women as actual people, and it also puts them on a position of power in which they fare as well as men does.

Think about the last show you watched in which the president is a woman, or in which women take command of the group of people they are stuck with. While there are female leaders on TV, The 100 allows a far more political approach for women in power, something that’s truly rare to see on the air, and it makes an ongoing comparison with the way men struggle with political power; the result is basically the same which is an amazing statement to make.

The power in hands of men and women lead to very similar results on the show, which adds up to the whole feminist standpoint of men and women both being people.

Now, we established that The 100 has well developed characters (with an emphasis on the female so far), but is that enough to be a candidate for a nomination? Many shows have well developed characters and now more than ever women are being treated like actual people (though the number of shows doing that still falls kind of short), so is there any other reason to nominate it? My next card to play here is the moral dilemmas and the humanity in display on the show.

The 100 isn’t afraid of taking risk, every episode it makes a huge gamble as the characters make choices that will potentially make them unlikeable for the audience; but what the show does so well is setting the context in which these hard choices are made, it makes the audience understand that the choices made don’t come from a place of evil, but rather for survival. It dances on various shades of grey (not to confuse with that hideous book) and it makes the audience wonder: would I do the same?

The characters are constantly at war with other factions on Earth, and they are forced to do things they are not proud of: they have killed innocent people, from both their side and the enemy’s side, they have betrayed, they have deceived, and yet, when everything’s put into perspective, you get what they do it, you understand their motivations and the circumstances that led them to do so.

“Maybe there are no good guys”. That line spoken in the second season finale pretty much sums up the series as a whole; these people try to do the best they can, but in doing so they end up hurting other people, both guilty and innocent. They have blood on their hands, they become hardened and they try to understand how they can make everything better. They learn from their mistakes and they make some others, they go on living, and as a whole, it feels like life itself, just on a post apocalyptic setting.

One of the strongest elements of The 100 is how real it feels; if the circumstances on our world were the same, I believe this is how it would come to past. The 100 is dead serious, it isn’t campy like many other sci-fi shows (not that there is something wrong with being campy), and it does so to make a direct statement about human condition: we are not good guys, we are simply trying.

Now, one of the things that could play against The 100 is that it has a low budget. How could it compete with amazingly crafted pieces of sets such as Game of Thrones? Honestly, it can’t go head to head against the beautifully crafted world of GoT, but The 100 puts a huge amount of effort and time to look fairly amazing itself; unlike Game of Thrones which films all around the world, The 100 films in Vancouver, and with one single location the crew does wonders.

Watching an episode of The 100 looks pretty amazing considering the lower than usual budget it has. The crew has put so much effort and imagination building the sets and the setting around the show that while watching the show I believe it comes from a network with a higher budget. It looks great, not fake at all. The work that the crew puts on making the show look good pays off, making the budget limitation look like they don’t exist, giving the show a platform to stand off and show itself with pride, ready to compete with shows with higher budgets.

So visually speaking, The 100 looks great; it may not be the most gorgeous show on television, but it has enough outstanding elements to make it stand out. It certainly can’t be ignored, the setting catches the sight and keeps you immersed on the world it has built. So while it can’t compete with some other outstanding work of visuals out there, The 100 does have a pretty solid platform to perform and show why it is worth your time.

I’ve kept you reading long enough, so let’s talk about a few other points why the show is worthy of a nomination:
The Acting: Sadly, the emmy ballots have only ballots for Paige Turco and Adina Porter. Both of them do a great job, but there are other great performances on the show worth considering.
Eliza Taylor, which plays Clarke, puts a tremendous and fantastic job portraying Clarke, making her feel like a real person, becoming one of the most groundbreaking young actresses on TV. Henry Ian Cusick had an amazing performance on the episode “Resurrection” as good as anything he did on Lost. Bob Morley, Lindsey Morgan and Isaiah Washington also shine through the series by developing multiple sides of their characters on outstanding manners. Also worth mentioning, the guest cast of the show is fairly amazing, with Alycia Debnam-Carey and Raymond J. Barry standing out as some of the best recurring guest stars on the show.
The Script: I’ve already talked about some themes on the show, but they work because the script is tight and carefully treated; the dialogue, the pauses, the pacing and the flow all come together to make the show great.
The Amazing Technical Achievement: Last season The 100 got nominated for outstanding special effects, and for good reason; despite the low budget, the show goes all out when it’s time for special effects, and also when they have to perform stunts. It is incredible.

No show is without flaws, you can spot some of them on The 100, but I think the good done in the show greatly outweighs the bad; most of the flaws can be found on season 1 and are improved upon during the following season. Do I have any complains about the show? Some, but very small ones, such as the fact that “City of Light” plot didn’t really sold me in until the season finale, and there are some things that I would have tweak there and there, but honestly, I think The 100’s second season is incredibly stellar. The first was already great, but the second one turned the show into something else.

I’m a fan of the show (maybe even a diehard fan of the show), and as a such you could say I’m biased and I’m missing some key flaws from the show. Maybe so, but I'm not writing about the show's faults, but the elements that make it great. Every show has flaws, even the highest praised shows like Breaking Bad have flaws; what's important is what the shows have to show for, and I honestly think that - for everything I wrote above and more -The 100 is not only a great show, but one worthy choice of an emmy nomination.

I honestly think that, when people work hard, the effort is noticed. The amount of hard work put on The 100 makes it shine, the people behind the show love it and try to do their best to make it the best thing on the air. There are other shows that also put a lot of effort and also shine, but The 100 is one that fights a lot of misconceptions about it, finding a strong voice during its second season, slaying those misconceptions with its amazingly dark and morally complex content, all by the huge amount of effort the cast and crew puts through every episode, and I think that is worthy of recognition.

So now let me know what you think, is The 100 a worthy choice for an emmy nomination? I sure do, so let your comments below and let me now!

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, The 100 and Halt and Catch Fire
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