As Netflix grows in popularity throughout the world, it is expanding the media it has available to be accessible to all audiences. To support this initiative, Netflix is creating original content, not only in English, but in other languages as well, such as Spanish, Japanese, French, and Portuguese. Although many Americans do not speak these languages, the subtitles setting allows audiences outside of said language to also enjoy the content. There has been a recent increase in Americans watching these foreign language Netflix originals, and one of the more famous ones that has made an impact in America is the Brazilian TV show 3%.
This show, rated mature and directed by Cesar Charlone, takes place in a dystopian future in which only the best 3% of the population qualifies to leave in a perfect world while the rest remain in a poverty-stricken, war torn world. Starring Bianca Comparato as Michele Santana, a competitor trying to reach the perfect world, and Joao Miguel as Ezequiel, the leader of the selection process, 3% introduces a wide variety of characters that are all multidimensional with their own complicated backstories. Only the first season is available on Netflix so far, and that series follows the characters as they are tested via several trials and try to reconcile their background with the way they must act to be selected as one of the three percent, and the plot has several unexpected twists, fully engaging the audience.
In the universe that 3% takes place in, all the people are born in the impoverished society and grow up there as well. Every year, all those who have turned twenty get one chance to go through a selection process. In this process, there are several tests and obstacles that the candidates must go through that test everything from logic to personality to instincts that are supervised by adults from the perfect world. Three percent of those candidates are chosen to be able to live the rest of their lives in a utopia where they are guaranteed food, healthcare, a job, and a happy life. Those who do not get selected either die because of the tests or live and return to their old world and cannot take the test ever again. Obviously, the plot is not this simple, and there is a lot of politics involved, with several factions causing problems in both the old and new world.
Despite the intriguing plot, there were a few things in the show that kept the show from being perfect. First of all, the subtitles are definitely not accurate and prevent true understanding of the director’s vision. Since Portuguese is similar to Spanish at times, even with my basic Spanish understanding, I could pick up on when the subtitles reduced the meaning of what the characters were actually saying. This makes one wonder if there are more items that are not translated by the subtitles. Although this might be acceptable for other shows, 3% is a Netflix original, meaning the creators would know there would need to be good quality subtitles before they had started, giving them no excuse for these subtitles. Another problem I had with the show, especially at the beginning, was the introduction of so many characters at one time. The scenes and settings and characters change so often that it is difficult to comprehend what is happening and keep track of all the plot threads at certain times in the series.
However, despite my small issues with the show, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. There is a wide representation of characters, which I think helps the show connect with a larger audience. Also, for the competition to be selected in a dystopian future might seem like an overused cliche, the show never feels like a typical young adult novel at any time. The characters and plot lines are so well-crafted that the world feels much different than any other type of media I have seen. There is also a lot of graphic violence, hence the mature rating, that I think really emphasizes the seriousness of the show, which I appreciate. There is a lot of obvious thought and effort that has been put into this show and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes watching thought-provoking, fast-paced television shows.