Holidays are the best excuse a person can have to partake in a television and/or movie marathon. Personally, I’ve been depriving myself of anything that might be addicting up until yesterday. Now that the holiday season feels more real–because my calendar reads December–my schedule is clear and my pillows, fluffed. I’m a huge fan of the classic series that practically beg for a binge-watch: Gilmore Girls, LOST, and Star Trek. But, of course, I’m always on the lookout for new material that strives elevate diverse characters and stories. I was in luck when I came across the Netflix original, 3%. It’s Netflix’s first Brazilian series, offering the option of subtitles or dubbed English. In this dystopian thriller, three percent of society is chosen to live a life separate from the rest, on an island called The Offshore. In order to become a part of this elite three percent, the candidates, at the age of twenty, go through a rigorous series of tests called The Process. In all honesty, it sounded like a mismatched version of The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, and Divergent to me. Which is not very appealing because how many times can a group of young people being tested going to excite an audience? That was my question going in and here are some of my thoughts coming out:
- 3%’s testing, The Process serves as a commentary on our society’s relationship with higher education. I’ve been waiting for a depiction of this type of struggle for what feels like forever. The pressure the candidates put on themselves reminds me of my senior year of high school. Their interviews in the first half of the pilot episode is a definite parallel to the college interview process. Much like the characters, I remember trying to say the right words and sell myself even though I had no clue who I was at that point. What I remember even more vividly is how much the pressure made me feel like it was acceptance or nothing. What type of future is worth living if you can’t get into a good school or in this case, The Offshore?
- I adore television and film that makes me reconsider how I approach problem-solving. The Process is filled with so many different types of tests that challenge not just the characters, but the audience to think outside of the box. I wasn’t passively watching – which kind of relieves me from some of the guilt that comes with binge-watching TV. I know a show has done something right when I’ve put my phone face down on my couch. 3%’s invitation to play along is hard to decline.
- I don’t usually enjoy watching live-action dubbed. It’s distracting to notice when audio doesn’t match an actor’s lips so I opted for the subtitles this time. The decision to avoid subtitles is something I think a lot of Americans – like myself – are most comfortable with and this is why all ton of television and films in foreign languages don’t reach the audience numbers they deserve. After watching this with the Portuguese as the audio I was reminded at just how beautiful this language sounds. Like race, gender, and sexual orientation, I feel like it’s vital we diversify languages in media. I’ve been kicking myself trying to learn a second language and listening to these actors speak encourages me to keep at it.
3% is most definitely a binge-worthy series. If the commentary on class systems isn’t enough of a hook, the brain-teasing puzzles will make things feel fresher, and less like beating-a-dead-horse. I’m two episodes deep and ready to dedicate the rest of my weekend. Why don’t you join me? Tell me what you think afterward. Did you watch it with subtitles or is dubbing more your style? Were you able to figure out any of the puzzles before the characters? If this show’s just not your cup of tea then please share, what is? I’m dying to know because honestly, I’ll probably be finished with this series by tomorrow night.