3% returns for a second season, April 27th on Netflix.
By Greg Wheeler
Featuring a bleak, dystopian future and a Hunger Games-esque premise, Netflix’s first Brazilian show could be mistaken for simply playing copycat. Its low budget and recycled sets make it easy to dismiss but if you can see past that, there’s a lot to like with 3%. 3% is a well paced, character driven drama that managed to sustain a high level of tension and thrill throughout its first season back in 2016. Though no one I know watches it – or has even heard of it for that matter – the show built up enough of a cult following to get a second season.
While the subtitles may turn you off, given the terrible English dub making it near impossible to watch without it, try watching an episode or two.
The main story follows a group of 20 year olds, rising from the slums of inland Brazil to compete for the yearly chance to become part of the prestigious 3% that are able to join the idyllic offshore. The writing is a little slow moving at first, juggling numerous characters and weaving a secondary plot about a rebel group called “The Cause,” but as the season progresses, we get to learn more about the motives of certain characters making for a fascinating watch. This is ultimately where 3% really thrives – with the character writing and script work.
Too often in shows like this the characters slot into neat little cliches with under-developed plots and motivations. The 3% bucks this trend with well written, complicated characters that evolve as the season progresses. Each key character has a specific purpose and aren’t just there to serve the plot. You really feel like these are genuine people with individual motivations and reasons for trying to join the 3% and it’s here, seeing these characters clash and join forces, that the show really shines.
Unfortunately people will be turned off by the subtitles, but this is a show that really deserves more recognition. With such a low budget production, there isn’t much shown of mainland Brazil or the slums where these characters came from which is a bit of a shame. We also barely get a glimpse of the offshore which does sour the overall journey. A lot of the season is shot through the use of handheld cameras too and whilst this helps to get up close to the action, it can be a little distracting at times with some scenes juttering uncontrollably when a more focused, steady camera might have been a better option.
With a great cast of characters, a well written script and perfect length at eight episodes per season, 3% is a great binge. Thematically, 3% is an interesting looking at class and whether the idyllic offshore is really the paradise its made out to be. Nowhere is this shown in more detail than the first season finale, and, without giving too much away, there’s a fascinating scene featuring a conflicted character trying to decide whether to join the 3% or not.
I’m really excited to start watching the second season!