Why the Leading Ladies of The 100 Are the Best Female Characters on TV

The 100

Let’s take a minute to talk about the women of The 100. Television and women have had an interesting and complicated relationship over time, and many shows put women into limited archetypal roles. That’s not to say that these roles are not necessary and vital to a television show’s world, but let’s agree that dynamic roles for women are better than static roles.

The 100 has found a balance for women unlike any other show on television this year. Women are mothers, lovers, skilled workers, and, most importantly, leaders all at once. The 100 demonstrates that female characters do not need to sacrifice their femininity, emotions, or integrity to achieve respect in a community.

Women of The 100 make up a small percentage of the cast, but they dominate the screen. Clarke Griffin, arguably the show’s protagonist, helps a group of juvenile delinquents survive on the foreign environment of the toxic future-Earth. Not only does she achieve co-leadership with Bellamy, but she and Bellamy gain the trust of the 100 to create an organized community, and not a chaotic bunch of teenagers. Clarke’s medical skills are vital to the group’s survival, and her relationship with Finn never causes anyone to question her dedication to the group’s well-being. Most importantly, the two biggest threats to the 100, the Mountain Men and the Grounders, recognize Clarke as the only leader of the 100.

Raven Reyes, the other prominent female leader on the ground, is an astounding mechanic, a role typically reserved for men. Raven holds the title of top of her class and is the youngest zero-G mechanic (repairing the Ark from the outside). Raven rebuilds an escape pod in three days and lands it on Earth to assist the 100 in reconnecting with the Ark. Raven Reyes constantly takes risks, and in on particular case, in the episode “Day Trip,” she risks her own life to protect the 100 from the approaching grounders. While Raven’s arrival on Earth also introduces her as Finn’s girlfriend, the tension between her and Clarke is short-lived, and they continue their strong partnership.

Abby Griffin, Clarke’s mother, has at least three important roles on the show. On the Ark, she is a member of the Council, and leader of the medical station, supervising and directly interacting with patients and doctors and nurses. After Abby arrives on the ground, Kane hands over the position of Chancellor to her, and when former Chancellor Jaha challenges her, the loyalty she has gained while on the ground is expressed when she needs it most, as the camp’s residents showing support for her decisions over Jaha’s.

One of Abby’s key supporters is Major Byrne, who is introduced as leader of the guard after the Ark crashes down on Earth. Byrne follows the rules, and demands respect and order, and she is unwavering in her loyalty to Abby Griffin. The two of them help to create a well-functioning, fair (for the most part) system that the people of the Ark, now living on Earth, can follow.

The 100 2.07

While the female heroes of The 100 are very strong, the women that could be consider the show’s villain also possess similar qualities. Dr. Tsing of the Mountain Men leads the medical area within the mountain, and with no other characters given lines in that field, we can only assume she is in charge of the entire operation. She holds the dark secret of the Mountain Men close to her chest as she captures and harvests innocent grounders for their blood. She collaborates with President Dante Wallace and his son Cage to determine the fate of the forty-eight newcomers. Dr. Tsing is the epitome of a character we love to hate, proving once again that women can have an active role in important conversations and hold a role as antagonist at the same time.

While the citizens of Mount Weather present the most current threat to Clarke, Raven, and the others from the Ark, the Grounders were the first major foes that the 100 faced, and multiple situations have revealed that the Grounder society relies heavily on the presence of female leaders. We are first introduced to Anya, leader to the local clan. She is ruthless and dedicated to her people, but finally has respect for Clarke’s equal dedication to her own people. Indra is the leader of Lincoln’s clan and does not trust Clarke or anyone else from the Ark. Indra is a solider that’s always anxious to fight and is second-in-command to the Grounders’ leader, Lexa, a role typically reserved for bulky male soldiers.

Lexa, the Grounder Commander, is young, cunning, and respected. The relationship between Lexa and Clarke alone begs for recognition. The mutual respect between these two women was demonstrated in the show’s most recent episode, “Spacewalker,” when Lexa calls off her soldiers after Clarke has given Finn a merciful death. Despite her small stature, Lexa leads an army of men and women twice her size, proving that her society values intellectual traits just as much as physical strength.

The women of The 100 thrive in every environment, which this show allows us to see. The 100‘s futuristic Earth propels these women forward into difficult mental and physical situations, something of which more shows should take advantage in 2015.

[Photos via The CW]

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