3% – Season One

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Picture Courtesy of Boutique Filmes and Netflix

3% is a Brazilian dystopian tv series about the general public that live in poverty and the testing process they are able to take to become one of the 3% elite.  Those who pass the rigorous testing process join the others who have passed on a submarine shuttle that takes them to an island known as the Offshore.  From a young age you are told about the Offshore and it’s limitless possibilities.  You live in poverty living off of scraps and struggling to survive, don’t you want the opportunity to live with the elite and become one of the 3%?  Your parents or a guardian would register you for the Process and when you reach the age of 20 you are given the opportunity to enter the testing facility where you are only given one chance.  Stage one is an interview process with 3% test co-ordinators to determine if you are one of the worthy 3%.  If you pass the interview you then move on to the next testing phase, if you fail you are sent back to your life of squalor to perhaps have children one day in the hope that they will make it further than you and have a better life.

The current head of the Process is Ezequiel (Joao Miguel).  Once someone living in poverty he is an inspiration to those in the Process that they too can make it to the end and become someone like him.  Though he is the head of the Process and should have everything there are things lurking behind his stoic facade and secrets that could jeopardize his own place in the 3%.  As a new year of the Process begins, we are introduced to a new pool of candidates.

Michele Santana (Bianca Comparato) – pronounced on the show as Michelley – has been alone ever since her brother joined the process.  Their parents dead, it was left to Michele’s older brother to take care of them both, but when his chance to join the Process came he had to leave Michele to fend for herself.  Though much of the process is shrouded in secrets Michele’s faith in the process is shattered when she is told that her brother, her only family left, has died during the testing Process and killed by Ezquiel himself.

Fernando Carvalho (Michel Gomes) is seen as someone who has no chance to make it through the process as he is confined to a wheelchair.  He believes he has the same chance as everyone else to get to the Offshore, but as such little information is known about the Offshore he wonders if there are others like him on the Offshore or if their technology is able to cure him.

Rafael Moreira (Rodolfo Valente) is egotistical and a cheater causing many others not to trust him.  Though he has his own dark secrets and a drive to get him through the Process, he will need to work with the others in order to make his way through.

Marco Alvarez (Rafael Lozano) comes from a well off family who is known for it’s members to all pass the Process and become part of the 3%.  With the knowledge that his parents and siblings have all made it to the Offshore there is immense pressure for him to do the same; however, this knowledge has made him more cocky than driven.

Joana Coelho (Vaneza Oliveira) is seen as a lone wolf.  Able to join the others in group activities and do what needs to be done to pass, she is still seen as a loner and will let nothing distract her from making it through the process.  Though she could be seen as having great drive and passion for the Process, could it also be fear of what remains if she were to fail and must return to the inland?

There are many other characters that form the first season, though it is these characters stories and interactions that really define the first season.  What are the key qualities of a Utopian society? What would you do to make it to the Offshore and become part of the 3%? What would you sacrifice? There are those who believe whole heartedly in the process, but there are also those who believe the process to be unfair.  These people are part of an organization known only as the Cause and they have made it their mission to destroy the Process and provide more opportunities to all people, not just the 3%.  Is such an idealistic view attainable? What would happen if the Process did not exist and what would happen if someone from the Cause was already in the Process or part of the 3%?

3% has an interesting dystopian scifi concept that was intriguing setting it up for yet another gem of the Netflix Original Series.  There is something that immediately catches your attention when you start the series and that is the fact that it is not originally a show done in English.  As I mentioned the show is a Brazilian show that has been dubbed in English for English speaking audiences.  Unfortunately, what this means is the mouths of the character do not match the words being spoken as well as the voices not always matching the character speaking them.  There are things that are more likely lost in the translation though the gist of it is clear.  There are times when I had to wonder if the translation was correct or doing the original justice with one thing digging under my skin.  It is very possible that one of the main characters name is actually Michele (Michelley) but this seemed more like a mistake in translation, or at least I hope it was.  There were many interactions between the characters that seemed completely fake which I believe had to do with a delay in actions or words being spoken during the translation.  The most notable character for the delay is Rafael who is a very energetic speaker causing his actions to be very expressive compared to his somber or short dialect.

Though I have harped on the translation and the faults of the show, the concept of the show was entertaining as well as the scenery and testing process.  There are many questions left to be answered which may be left for the announcement of season two in the making.  There is much to be done and discovered with many of the secrets of the Offshore to be revealed as the Cause and the 3% may come head to head.

I’m usually pretty hopeful when it comes to Netflix Originals as they seem to have a pretty good track record thus far.  As much as I wanted to like this show, I found more things to upset me than entertain me.  Many of the characters were annoying at best and many scenes had you scratching your head.  Though season two has been announced and all our burning questions will be answered, I feel like the odds of me continuing with this series and watching season two are slim to none.  Fans of dystopian scifi will enjoy the concepts and scenery, though I feel like the translation and characters are deal breakers.

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