Since Donald Trump took office less than a week ago, there have been worldwide marches, hashtag movements, pink yarn shortages and more than a few scientists going rogue on Twitter. But if you’re looking for another way to oppose the already-oppressive Trump administration, television may provide one answer. Saturday Night Live has been doing a good job so far of leading the resistance. The show regularly roasts Trump, who then tweets his rage to the masses, and ABC’s black-ish, a show Trump once deemed “racist,” just aired its own election-themed episode that provided an honest, nuanced look at the divide in our country caused by our current Commander-in-Chief.
But, as ironic as it may be, the show most capable of giving us an example of how to resist Trump’s fear mongering rhetoric and fascist propaganda just so happens to be a millennial dystopian drama on the CW.
If you’re not familiar with The 100, the series is set nearly a century into the future after a nuclear Armageddon has destroyed Earth and survivors are forced to live on a spaceship known as The Ark. With resources running low on board, 100 juvenile delinquents are sent back to earth to discover whether the planet is habitable again.
Over the course of three seasons, this group of teenagers learns to survive by working together, to negotiate with hostile natives – known as Grounders – to defend against would-be invaders and to form a functioning settlement, mostly on their own. The show tackles issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, colonization, climate change, institutionalized patriarchies and more and unlike plenty of other apocalyptic dramas on TV and in the movies, The 100 doesn’t focus on a bleak dystopia but on how tragedy, adversity and upheaval can push people together and bring needed change.
Through meaningful story lines and strong character development, the show is handing us a formula for defying Trump and his cabinet of cronies. Here are a few key ingredients.
Giving women bodily autonomy, equal rights, or worst of all, positions of power, might send Trump into a misogynistic meltdown but The 100 has no problem imagining women, mainly young women, in charge. The series’ main protagonist, Clarke (Eliza Taylor) is an intelligent and opinionated female, once outcast by her people and now their de-facto leader. Not only does she galvanize a group of unruly kids into working as a community for a common goal, she brokers treaties with foreign nations, makes tough decisions and more than a few personal sacrifices for the betterment of her people and for the greater good.
But she’s not the only woman wielding power on the show. Season three saw the emergence of Grounder queen Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), a warrior chosen to lead her people because of her strength and vision. Grounder culture doesn’t differentiate between gender – they’ve evolved to understand that one’s ability doesn’t hinge on what sex organs you happen to be born with — and the show chose to prove a woman could effectively command an army, look out for her own nation’s interest and work towards a peaceful cohabitation and alliance with a former enemy when it combined Clarke and Lexa’s storylines in the third season.
If anything, it’s the men in charge that often make bad decisions on The 100. Marcus Kane (Henry Ian Cusick) a council member, who later becomes Chancellor, advocates killing hundreds of his own people in season one to stave off having to leave their comfortable spaceship and live on Earth. Jaha (Isaiah Washington), their exiled leader, returns in season three to convince his people to swallow a chip that will take away their self-government by allowing an A.I. to invade their brains. The third season also saw the appearance of a new villain, Pike (Michael Beach), a teacher forced to become a soldier who chooses to see the Grounders as an enemy, one to be slaughtered not negotiated with. In fact, most of the women in this show spend an ample amount of time trying to right a man’s wrongs and prevent the disastrous consequences of their decisions. It might be a bit too relevant when it comes to issues we’re facing right now.