Netflix’s Dystopian Sci-Fi Series “3%” Creates Its Own Merit

3%

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Equilibrium and The Hunger Games had a fling in Brazil? The result would be very much like the Netflix Original Series 3%, the first season of which was released on November 25th.

There have been a lot of books, shows, and movies based on dystopian futures lately, but 3% feels different. It’s set in a future Brazil where resources are incredibly scarce (except sheets and giant pieces of paper, because those make up 85% of the Inshore set dressing). The ruling elite live in the mysterious Offshore where they have plentiful food and high-tech medicine. Most of the population doesn’t even know what Offshore is, but they’re desperate to get there.

3%The good news is that every citizen has a chance to go Offshore. In their 20th year they can sign up for the Process where they must “create their own merit”. Specifically, they go through a battery of tests designed to prove they’re suitable for the advanced Offshore society. Most wash out after the first interview. At the end of the three days, only 3% of the candidates will be accepted Offshore. The rest are sent home with brisk condolences and advised to forget they ever tried.

What kinds of tests are these? There are interviews, sure, but there are also exercises designed to probe all aspects of a person’s character. I don’t want to give anything away by describing them. Suffice it to say I felt invested in most of them, rolled my eyes at a few, and was won over by one that came towards the end of the Process. It changed the whole character of the Process for me. I’m very curious to see where Netflix takes this in Season 2, especially given how the season ended.

3% is the first Netflix Original Series made in Brazil. It comes from creator Pedro Aguilera, a relative newcomer with only one other series, and Academy Award-nominated director Cesar Charlone. Netflix dropped the show without a lot of fanfare, probably because it’s in Portuguese with optional subtitles. Don’t let that scare you away. You can always turn on the dubbed version, though the actors have such range and depth to their voices that I think you’ll miss out by going for the dub.

You’ll really miss out if you don’t watch this series, though. 3% really digs into its characters over the 8 episodes, stripping them down so we can see what means to most to them and what they’re willing to sacrifice to get it. I could write pages of praise for the acting, the story, and even the slightly cheesy set dressing. This is dystopian science fiction the way it should be done.

Now everyone go marathon it so Netflix greenlights Season 2.

Have you seen 3% yet? What did you think? Share your opinion in the comments section below, and be sure to tag your spoilers!

Author: Khai

Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and game enthusiast. She can talk fandom in five languages, and her proudest nerd moment so far was presenting original research titled “Gender, Sex, and Werewolves” at an international anthropological conference. Her first game, None For Me, is due out from Calico Games early next year.