In review: Netflix’s The 3%

Hi everyone,

We recently finished watching The 3% on Netflix, and like our reaction to everything sci-fi or Netflix related, we have a lot of feelings. Here goes:

So for anyone who hasn’t watched the show we wanted to give a better idea of what it’s about. First, there are only eight episodes, perfect for binging tbh. Second it’s one of Netflix’s first projects in Brazil–so it’s all in Portuguese. Heads up for our fellow ~english speakers~, there are subtitles. It takes place in a dystopian society with a mainland, stricken by poverty/violence/the works, and the offshore, which is rich/Utopian/better. The show follows a class of 20-year-olds competing against each other in a series of tests (called the Process) to win a spot at the offshore. The name 3% is for the three percent of the population who actually make it. *BUM BUM BUUUUUM*.

Between the two of us, we’ve watched or read a shit ton of dystopian/sci-fi books, movies and shows. That being said, we’re still going to compare it a little bit to the Hunger Games. The tests they have to pass, the competition, the dying, the young cast–we couldn’t help but think, even if just a little bit, about Suzanne Collins. Sorry not sorry. Aside from the Hunger Games vibes, the show is pretty dope but I wouldn’t say the premise is particularly original. The offshore is the place for the elites who use cruelty to keep their society alive, then there’s the mainland and the Cause (the name of the rebellion) who continue to send their youth for the chance at a better life. Both are themes we’ve seen before, and the 3% doesn’t really do too much for them. While it is interesting to see the ways the Process is run, the show doesn’t include any storylines that make it stand out in the genre.

What the premise was missing in originality, it did make up for in interesting characters. Three of the more important ones were:

  1. Michele Santana, the main lead of the show. We find out as the show goes along that Michele is part of the Cause and is even willing to betray her best friend in order to maintain her cover. Her real vendetta is against the orchestrator of the Process, Ezequiel, who she believes killed her brother when he went through the Process. Michele makes it through the Process by the skin on her teeth, relying most of the time on others around her. By the time we finished the show, we were teetered on the edge of feeling indifferent to annoyed about Michele. Safe to say, while the creators wanted her to have a great story line as a heroine, it fell short for us. She always seemed to be so reckless and definitely would not have made it out alive without her new found friends.
  2. Fernando Carvalho, the love interest of Michele. We liked him from the start because of his backstory and clever responses to the challenges of the Process. He even helps Michele advance at one point. But as the season goes on he starts to fall in love with Michele and everything she says–despite knowing her for like FOUR EPISODES or a few weeks, whatever. His interest in Michele was over-the-top and not super compelling tbh. It made it pretty hard to stay on board with his character, until *spoiler alert* he leaves the Process. We’re interested to see where his storyline goes next season now that him and Michele (hopefully) done and we can focus more on his intelligence, bravery or really anything but his unconvincing love story.
  3. Joana Coelho, the badass baller that is kicking ass and taking names. Joana is the real hero of the show. Joana is a scrappy girl from the streets who illegally obtained a chip which allows you to go through the Process. She’s easily the smartest person in the room at all times and has such a laid back personality that you don’t even realize she’s been scheming until someone is already screwed over. Joana quickly becomes Ezequiel’s favorite when he sees how observant and innovative she is. He goes on to ask her to be his successor but by that point she has realized the corruption in the Process and goes back to her home to join the Cause. It’s safe to say the Joanna is the real MVP of the show.

Some of the episodes really threw us (@Gateway). This is the fourth episode and was bat shit crazy and we absolutely need to talk about it. All of the competitors have been locked in a building with no way out as their next task. In order to obtain food and water, they have to complete these physically challenging puzzles for hours on end. Eventually, the game makers decide to test them and stop sending food down. All of a sudden one of the major characters up to this point, Marco, decides he is now the supreme ruler and goes around taking all the food from everyone. A little back story, Marco is kinda like royalty in that all of his family members are on the island and it is expected that he will join them. His belief in the Process is pushed to the limits in the building when he rallies a gang behind him and things get violent. He’s on a conquest to capture everyone’s food thinking the real test is some kind of physical test of survival. He even strikes a girl in the head with a metal rod, killing her instantly, as a way of proving his power. Throughout the episode Macro just fuckin loses it. This makes it easily one of the most entertaining episodes while at the same time being the most fucked up. We were cringing the entire time. In the end, Joana rallies all of the competitors against Marco and his gang and they kill some of them in the process. The gates open for a limited amount of time allowing all of the kids to flee the confined space. Marco, bloody and beaten, tries to crawl towards the door in order to escape as it begins to close. The final shot we see of him is the moment before he is crushed by the door leaving us aghast and feeling slightly justified.

Overall, it’s an intensely entertaining show. If you like dystopian-puzzle-solving-heart-pounding-back-stabbing-hunger-games drama then this is the for you. What the show lacks in  political commentary, it makes up for in insane but mostly likable characters and backstories. Would probably be your jam if liked Orphan Black, the Hunger Games, the Divergent series, Sense 8, The OA, or anything like that. We blew through it in a span of 24 hours if that gives any indication to our feelings about how entertaining it is! Comment with any recommendations you have for us, or if you think we missed a good scene. 

Forever wishing you happy binge watching,

B&L

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