The CW's 'The 100': Like 'Lord of the Flies' with a 'love octagon,' says showrunner
"The 100" is a dystopian futuristic drama set half in space and half on a nuclear war-ravaged Earth. The space storyline is set on the Ark, a spaceship housing the only human survivors left after a nuclear holocaust wiped out the planet 97 years ago. Unfortunately the Ark is failing, so the government sends 100 juvenile delinquents to Earth to find out if humans can once again survive on the ground.
"The 100's" executive producer Jason Rothenberg says to think of the new series like "Lord of the Flies" set in the future, with a "love octagon" at the center. " [The similarities] are deliberate. We're telling that story for the first run of episodes," Rothenberg said during "The 100" Winter Press Tour panel on Wednesday (Jan. 15). "On the ground, what the kids are doing to each other, some want to hold on to rules and society while others are going to go wild and go native. Bellamy [Bob Morley] is fostering that wildness for his own benefits. It's definitely influenced by 'Lord of the Flies.'"
Morley's Bellamy will start off as the villain on the ground due to the circumstances he finds himself in, but after a death rocks the 100, things change. "If you drop 100 teens somewhere and let they run wild, they will," Morley says. "[The death] is the catalyst that forces the 100 to realize they need to put a system in place."
While Bellamy's villain on the ground evolves as the series progresses, Henry Ian Cusick plays a villain on the Ark named Kane. But according to Cusick, his character isn't purely evil. "He's a confused misanthrope. He doesn't like mankind and yet he's trying to save mankind," Cusick says. "His motives are that he wants to save humankind but the way he wants to do it is pretty draconian. He wants to kill a lot of people but he's up against Abby [Paige Turco] and Chancellor Jaha [Isaiah Washington] who are pretty liberal. He's not a bad guy. He's pragmatic."
Kane is motivated to take drastic measures to save the Ark because due to some technical glitches, the Ark thinks that all 100 teens died on Earth. "We know he's wrong but he doesn't, because we know the kids survived on the ground. He really believes in his cause," Rothenberg says.
Because "The 100" is set half in space and half on a radiation-ravaged earth, obviously some outside forces are going to be rooted in science fiction, but Rothenberg didn't want to focus on outside threats. "We're trying to ground it in as real of science as possible. We decided early on that it was more about what the people do to each other rather than what the world does to them," Rothenberg says. "If you don't care about the people then what's the point?"
And that's why the big death is so powerful: you -- and the 100 -- won't see it coming. Who dies and how they are killed will have big ramifications on everyone. "We wanted people to feel like anybody could die at anytime. You just don't know what's going to happen," Rothenberg says. "It was something we decided we wanted to do relatively early for that reason. It has implications across the board. [SPOILER]'s death makes them all realize how much danger they're in. The irony is it's not the world that kills this person, it's one of them."
Basically, Rothenberg warns that the death toll will be major as the season progresses. " It shouldn't be called 'The 100,'" Rothenberg jokes. "By the end of Season 1 it should be called 'The 50.'"
Watch a teaser trailer of the new series below:
"The 100" premieres Wednesday, March 19 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.