The ladies of ‘The 100’: Dystopian survival and sexuality


the ladies of the 100Artwork by Chloe Leeson

Before I begin, I would just like to clarify that I never imagined that I would someday write a positive article about a television show that airs on the ‘CW’; a painfully all-American network that often focuses solely and un-ironically on clichés. And yet, here I am, openly expressing my wonder at the effect that a small programme can have on a cynical mind. ‘The 100’ is a futuristic piece set in a world that has been ravaged by radiation, in which a group of teenagers must learn how to survive within makeshift communities. While it does indeed draw comparisons with ‘Lord of the Flies’, it is also brimming with originality and potential; something which can be found primarily in its female characters. They are, simply put, wonderfully written. There are no stereotypes to be found here, no reliance on males to lead them and no sense of objectification. Within the span of only two seasons, they have arguably cemented their place as some of the most intriguing protagonists of their genre. The most conflicted of them all, perhaps, is the leader of our heroes; Clarke Griffin. Much like the others, she has spent her whole life on a space station, surrounded by limitations and forced to step into a role of rationality when she is sent to test the survivability of Earth before she is even eighteen. There are many paths that the writers could have taken Clarke down. They could have had her obey to the every wish of her male counterpart, Bellamy Blake, or they could have presented her only as a merciful, just warrior with no traces of moral ambiguity. Instead, they chose to give us a character that is independent, formidable and, above all, human. As the storyline progresses, Clarke must make decisions that could guarantee the survival of her people but which would also cost the blood of innocents. And this is part of what makes her so admirable. Her choices are not dissimilar to those of our world leaders; particularly in the face of war. Yes, she is barely more than a child, but she is also a guide to those that follow her. Conflict is messy, people die. To express this through a young, inexperienced female is a bold move as it shows us the importance of diverse leadership, as Clarke strives to represent everyone in their budding society and not just its privileged members; the latter being a concept that we are all too familiar with in our reality. She is frightened and she is conflicted. She is strong and she is logical; she is a perfect embodiment of the difficulties that human life presents us with.

There is, however, something else that makes Clarke such a key figure for our generation. Along with defying misogynistic expectations of her, she also lies outside of the majority, even in a new world. Clarke is bisexual. Her relationship with another woman is beautifully presented; it is without fetishism and judgement. It is tentative and complex; conveying the basic necessity for emotion, even between two differing commanders. This, then, paves the way for me to discuss another fantastic female on the show, as well as Clarke’s possible lover, Lexa. She is the head of the ‘Grounders’; those that existed on Earth despite its nuclear fallout and formed their own culture. This is another of the most interesting thing about the show, its portrayal of varying people and their ways of life, which often helps to maintain the message that humanity is the most important thing that we have, regardless of our differences. On the characterisation of Lexa; she is invitingly ambiguous. Again, we are given a female in a principal role, and her strength is immeasurable. Her ability to kill with a single strike is admirable but it is her origins that truly interested me, as she talks, with female pronouns, of a past lover that was tortured and subsequently murdered in an attempt to sabotage her. Refreshingly, there is no fanfare when we learn that Lexa is an LGBT character. There is only acceptance and normalcy, which gives me hope for the future of her storyline. As someone who identifies as gay, I am elated to see a story focusing on queer characters that will finally be based on something else other than tragedy, which comes often namely as a result of homophobia and HIV/AIDS, and coming out. It is about time that the stories of LGBT people that do not fall into these categories are depicted. What makes Clarke and Lexa so interesting is not their sexualities; it is the way in which they are treated as individuals and as leaders, bound to decision-making and duty just as they are bound to love and dedication.

There are so many incredible female characters on ‘The 100’ and I wish that I could talk about every one of them all day long but there would simply just be too much to put into words. I also hope that, as it progresses, this show will receive the recognition that it truly deserves and that it will help a generation to realise that it is women that have the greatest stories to tell.

By Hannah Ryan

HANNAHHannah, is 17 and from England. She likes little indie movies, Christoph Waltz, David Fincher, Spike Jonze and cool female actresses. She loves to chill with her amazing girlfriend and debate over dumb romantic movies with her and she also likes music,  pretty much all music types from cheesy adolescent pop to indie feminist rockers. Taylor Swift and Clarke Griffin are all that she cares about.

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