A chilling 1st-time partnership between Netflix and Brazil.
3% is a show shrouded in mystery and intrigue from the very second Process Leader Ezequiel (João Miguel) walks onto the screen. It is guaranteed to keep you guessing until the final second of the last episode and then continuing questioning everything you just watched.
The first episode opens with the Process. Within the first few moments, it reveals the Inland is a ruined world and all government and order have left the world. People are subjected to living any way they can. It is a hard life for the people that live in the Inland. With this in mind, 97% are groomed to believe in the hope that the Offshore will bring them, but only if they can make it. The Offshore is sold as a utopian paradise that can cure any ailment. All young men and women are encouraged to register for the Process. Once they reach the age of 20 each of them is able to compete in Process in order for a chance to become one of the 3% that will be admitted to the Offshore. Each of these 20 year-olds goes through a battery of tests which can be as basic as putting cubes together and as violent as being locked in a dormitory with no food or water. The Process holds more than just physical and mental trials; there are also trials of “merit” to see who has what it takes to join the others on the Offshore.
Once passing all the tests and becoming part of the 3%, the contestants are given a vaccine and taken to the Offshore. No dystopian show would be complete without the people against the idea of the Process and the Offshore. The Cause sends in agents to infiltrate the Process and the Offshore.
3% is entirely in Portuguese, however, the subtitles can be overlooked for the powerhouse of a show.
The true intrigue of the show lives in the confusion of the protagonist. Showrunners forgo lumping people of color into a side character role. Instead, they give them amazing and powerful roles that show diversity is easily achievable when racial stereotypes are left behind. Additionally, they fleshed out the diverse cast so well they removed one of dystopian media’s most traditional tropes of a world only full of white characters. With such a strong cast, the characters often outshine each other by their strengths. Characters are written off the show in a Game of Thrones fashion where no one is safe. Yet, don’t take all of it for doom and gloom, the facilitators of the Process cheerfully advise eliminated candidates “the joy of having children is one of the most efficient methods of dealing with frustration.” Each character that continues on in the Process has an amazing background that is explored in seamlessly in each episode and no one’s background overshadows other characters save for Ezequiel.
The show is not breaking down any walls presenting itself in a technologically advanced world. Where it lacks in the finance department it excels in the acting department. The overall drive of the show and the interaction between the actors really turns this show from a low budget thriller into a dramatic character-driven series with a healthy dose of questions.
Perhaps where the show suffers the most is the sheer amount of world building it completes during the first season. With all this world building it leaves a lot of questions at the end of the first season. Perhaps all of these questions will find answers in the already green-lit second season.
Overall, 3% is a breath of fresh air in the dystopian world. It is unafraid to use every single character in the diverse cast to their fullest. The darkness of the world twists and turns in every episode driving the viewer to watch it in its entirety. While it still relies on the concepts of a YA demographic, 3% breaks away from the stereotypical tropes and brings a low budget show with a very big voice.