Everyone Is Watching This Dystopian Thriller On Netflix Right Now

Welcome to “What’s Good,” a weekly column where we break down what’s soothing, distracting, or just plain good in the streaming world.
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
What’s Good? 3% on Netflix
Who It’s Good For: This is where I have to admit my ignorance. A lot of people have known 3% was good for a long time. Netflix just dropped the show’s fourth and final season, but in 2016 when the show premiered, it became a massive hit that changed the streaming service as we know it. The Brazilian series is the first Portuguese-language Netflix original and its second non-English production. calls it the “ambitious, over-the-top, non-English language Netflix original that set the stage for how streaming would bridge the cultural divide in entertainment.” Basically, its success proved to Netflix that people will watch good shit — subtitles or not. So, if you like Elite, Dark, Money Heist, or any of Netflix’s other big international shows, you have 3% to thank. And since it’s a dystopian thriller starring hot young people, it’s also for fans of The 100, Hunger Games, and Divergent.
How Good Is It? It’s so good it won me over when I was trying hard not to like it. I wasn’t looking for a show like 3%. At the beginning of quarantine (approximately three years ago; time is a construct), I was all about post-apocalyptic content. Yes, I even watched Contagion. I guess I found it soothing to watch worlds that were more fucked up than the one we are living in. Then, the real world got even more messed up and that soothing fiction started to feel too much like reality. I gravitated towards shows with lots of making out and fantastical romances that were nothing like my real life (no disrespect to my fiancé). So, when I stumbled upon a show with this synopsis, it didn’t seem like my jam: “In a future where the elite inhabit an island paradise far from the crowded slums, you get one chance to join the 3% saved from squalor.” 
3% takes place in a world where resources are scarce and the disparity between rich and poor has never been wider (sound familiar?) so when you turn 20 years old, you have to compete for a chance to leave your impoverished background to live a luxurious life in a place known as the Offshore. They subject you to a series of mental and physical tests known as the Process. Only 3% make it though. 
Like all good dystopian dramas, 3% is rife with allegory. It’s a commentary on class and capitalism. As the contestants start to question why they have to put their lives on the line to live a fair and decent life, they also start to rebel against the system in which they were raised. I’m not saying a Brazilian Netflix show is going to be the thing that radicalizes you, but I’m also not not saying that. 3% is also irresistible because of the stellar performances from its young cast (Vaneza Oliveira as Joana and Michel Gomes as Fernando especially) and the way in which it finds new and exhilarating ways to tell stories in an oversaturated genre. 
I’m not going to spoil anything for you, mainly because I can’t since I only just started the show myself, but if reviews or the fact that I’ve seen The Good Place are any indication, the Offshore isn’t going to be exactly as advertised. To quote the late, great Notorious B.I.G, “Mo Money, Mo Problems.” Amirite?
3% is a wild ride that is full of nerve-wracking turns and shocking twists. While that may not be comforting for some, for me, it’s been nice to stress about the lives of fictional twenty-somethings trying to make it to the promiseland rather than worrying about real life. Also, there is some making out. Hey, I’m still me. A little romance and some high-stakes action? Get you a series that can do both.
Things that are also good:
• Remembering Chadwick Boseman’s enduring legacy. Soraya McDonald for the Undefeated wrote a beautiful tribute, and I tried my best to honour our King, too
• Would I be me if I wasn’t recommending a mindless rom-com? Didn’t think so — this week it’s Love, Guaranteed starring Damon Wayans Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook
• Long weekends
• The weirdest film dropping on Netflix this week, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, starring Jesse Plemons
• This column is usually for the grown and sexy (or teenagers pretending to be grownups like myself) but this week, I have to shout out a show for legit children: Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices
Defunding the police

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