Snapshots: 3%

Snapshots are extra short reviews. Everything you need to know, nothing you don’t. 

If you let a robot write a young-adult-dystopia series, it might spit out something close to 3%. The story is about a group of 20-year-olds in a future dystopia, who are being tested through The Process to see if they can join The Three Percent who live happily on The Offshore. We learn that some of them are working for The Cause, a rebel group from The Inland trying to infiltrate The Process from the inside. Much like The Hunger Games, season 1 shows the characters learning the mechanics of the tests along with the audience, while season 2 paints a larger picture of the political and social forces at play.

As run-of-the-mill as it sounds, it’s a solid entry into the genre, albeit a late one. It’s Brazilian, so already it has a different aesthetic than something like Divergent or The Maze Runner. Be sure to watch with subtitles, not the dubbed version. But it also has several of the hallmarks of a good YA dystopia: abject poverty contrasted with technological luxury; a series of tests designed to test mental and physical skill; violence that isn’t gratuitous; a believable world with cracks in the system that are slowly widening; and most importantly, compelling characters burdened by everyday young-adult drama.

That’s by far the show’s greatest strength – the diverse, talented cast. Particularly the wise-beyond-her-years Joana (Vaneza Oliveira, pictured above), whose drive and ability to pass the tests is staggering compared to her peers. There are times when the world seems derivative; the novelty of the tests, as well as revelations about the world, are more exciting in season 1, and season 2 lacks the brilliant political machinations that made Catching Fire such a classic. But I found myself so invested in the characters that I was quick to forgive the familiar narrative tropes. With any luck, season 3 will continue the saga in a way that doesn’t feel like a cash grab. (I’m counting on you Netflix!)