The CW Network
Teen dramas tend to be riddled with clichés: love triangles, happy endings, and the idea that good and evil are black and white, the list goes on. However, The CW’s newest sci-fi series, The 100 — an adaptation of Kass Morgan’s young adult novel of the same name — has begun to break down many of the typical teen drama tropes even though the show is still relatively young. And it all culminated with one specific moment on the series that proved we weren’t just watching your average teen drama.
The most important element of Jason Rothenberg‘s series is in its deconstruction of the love triangle (Writer’s note: I really hate love triangles) in such an interesting way. Instead of portraying two girls fighting over one guy (or even vice versa), The 100 depicts two girls who didn’t know about each other coming to terms with the choices made by that one guy — without blaming each other. Since it isn’t the focal point of the show, this particular love triangle successfully moves past cliché status.
Even beyond the question of cliché, what’s fantastic about the love triangle is that the viewer doesn’t know whose side to take. Each character is both right and wrong, good and bad at the same time. These contrasting characteristics can be found in every single person on the show, which helps the viewers to see these characters as real people.
However, the revelation of the love triangle is not the moment that really helped The 100 become more than a teen drama. Too often, television shows are afraid to kill off characters because they don’t want to anger or alienate fans. Of course, there are exceptions (Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead), but in teen dramas there’s the added insult that most character deaths seem unnecessary or unearned.
The 100 doesn’t fear killing off any number of characters and manages to do it in a way that makes each death impactful. At the end of the third episode, one of the main characters is killed off — murdered by a fellow regular. It’s so sudden, but as it happens, the viewer realizes the show has been leading up to it throughout the whole episode. It also has repercussions for the other characters that change the entire trajectory of the show.
But that’s not even the moment where the show surpassed our expectations. The scene we’re talking about comes in Episode 5, when The 100 manages to pull off a particularly massive death scene — that is made even more brutal as half the characters rush to prevent the deaths and completely fail.
Any other series would have allowed the characters to save the day, leaving the viewer with an optimistic feeling. But The 100 takes place in a futuristic dystopia and this moment reminds viewers that an unhappy ending is just as likely as a happy ending. In this moment — as well as all the scenes leading up to and since this moment — viewers are reminded that a CW show can be more than your typical teen drama, which is why we’re completely addicted to The 100.