‘3%’ (NETFLIX) In some ways a YA dystopian novel that skipped publication and went straight to television instead, “3%” is a Brazilian series depicting a means by which undesirables are selected out of society and placed in an exclusive society on an idyllic island. Or, basically, it’s a fable for income inequality, something that I don’t see television tackling too often.
In the slums of future Brazil, young people look anxiously to their 21st birthday in order to take part in the Process, a rite of entering adulthood that either ushers you off to the promised heaven of the island or dumps you to face your horrible fate in the over-crowded city. As per the show’s title, only 3 percent of the population pass the Process, and so only 3 percent of the population are deemed elevated humans allowed to suck up the resources of the other 97 percent.
In season one, we follow a group of young people as they face the Process, privy to the double-crosses and schemes, and to the behind-the-scenes intrigue that propels the tension within the Process. In season two, we follow several of those characters in the aftermath of the Process, learning more about the island, as well as a movement to destroy the Process.
In its unfolding, “3%” takes several sophisticated concepts and executes them in an enjoyable way, most notably turning elitism into a competition that convinces people to betray each other. The Process becomes capitalism boiled down to its essence, complete with a reverential mythology used to sanctify it as an endeavor, while built on a foundation of mistruths that we eventually discover as shaky.
Also, the scenes on the island evoke nothing less than “Logan’s Run” to me. It’s a chill 70s-era utopian vision that stands in beautiful contrast to the cluttered, stylized slums, filled with energy and anger.
Folding in the modern views of the few sucking up the resources of the many, and the brainwashing of the many as potential members of the few, “3%” is effective melodramatic science fiction.
‘THE RAIN’ (NETFLIX)
As post-apocalyptic dramas go, “The Rain,” from Denmark, has an unusual set-up. The rain falling from the sky literally becomes the source of rapid disease and nearly instant death, and it’s only those fortunate enough to not necessarily be where they should be and instead be protected under shelter who survive. Also quick thinking in their panic moments — the sight of multiple people succumbing to the deadly downpour causes them to stay put rather than run and help.
There are secrets, though, and these are centered around Simone (Alba August) and Rasmus (Lucas Lynggaard Tønnesen), the children of a scientist, who are placed in a high-tech bunker to ride out the end of the world in safety. Dad disappears though and it’s not until years later that the siblings make their way out into the dangerous world and try to track down their father.
In the tradition of post-apocalyptic TV shows before — from “Logan’s Run” in the 1970s to “The Walking Dead” — there’s lots of traveling and meeting different people, who react to the end of the world in different ways. But the tone of “The Rain” may be closer to the former than the latter, and that’s a huge strength — whereas in “The Walking Dead,” the trademark bloodbath always trumps character and idea development to deliver fury, “The Rain” doesn’t bank on over-the-top action scenes so much as character interaction, and that keeps you tuned in.
As the series progresses, you come to like these bumbling, clueless, sometimes selfish kids doing their best to figure out what they are supposed to do this bizarre situation they find themselves in. And as the situation becomes more complicated, the adventure somewhat mirrors the coming-of-age for young people even in the calmest of times.
Originally published at www.berkshireeagle.com.