‘The 100’ Producer and Cast Preview an Intense and Political Season 3

Cast and Producer talk the political
Courtesy CW

At the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday, Jason Rothenberg, executive producer of the CW’s “The 100,” said that the show would be returning to its roots in its upcoming third season, which arrives alongside “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” Jan. 21.

“The show started with the 100 [survivors] wanting to kill each other, and could they overcome their internal conflict before the threat of the Grounders wiped them out,” Rothenberg said. “Last year, we introduced some new elements and the conflict became a little bit more external.

“This season we get to a pure version of where the show started,” Rothenberg continued. “There is internal conflict at Camp Jaha — what was formerly known as Camp Jaha — and there’s a new group that comes in and really mixes things up and creates a lot of conflict internally. And we tell a lot of the story in Polis this season,” where political upheaval is also in the air.

Polis is a Grounder city, and its leader is Lexa (Alycia Debnam-Carey), the commander of all 12 Grounder tribes, who descended from those who survived an apocalypse that wiped out much of humanity.

“My favorite part of Season 3 is the fact that we do get to explore the world of the Grounders — their politics, their culture, their spiritual history and how it’s changed and how they adapted things from what the world used to be,” said Debnam-Carey, who is a guest star on “The 100” and a series regular on “Fear the Walking Dead.”

“There’s a little less fighting, a lot more political” maneuvering, according to Eliza Taylor, who plays Clarke. 

“I realized straightaway, wait a second — I’m doing a whole lot more talking,” Debnam-Carey said.

“When I first explored the world of Indra, I went to what I knew,” said Adina Porter, who plays that Grounder clan leader. “I could totally relate to being an outsider, I could totally relate to being an indigenous person — my father was born and raised in Sierra Leone. But then the world began to change. I’m constantly being surprised by what it’s like to be a seasoned warrior and then to [have] a boss, and when I choose to listen to her and when I choose to think differently. The writers are constantly throwing something new at us.”

The show’s mix of action, moral quandaries and difficult choices will continue to lead to dark moments and wrenching scenes. Rothenberg said he is in constant contact with the network’s Standards and Practices department, and noted that the depiction of a brutal act by Clarke at the end of Season 2 was “a Standards and Practices nightmare,” in terms of what could and could not be shown. But he added that CW president Mark Pedowitz fully supported the show going to difficult places and has done so since the beginning.

“I’m still kind of more surprised by the notes we don’t get than by the notes we do get,” Rothenberg said. “But the network’s been amazing. I feel like one of our jobs is to kind of creatively push the envelope for them — for the network, for broadcast television. I’m happy to do it.”

Earlier in the day, Pedowitz said that “The 100” had been purposely held back for mid-season, in part to allow new fans to find it.

“One of our strategies moves we made was to hold it back for midseason to allow year two to go up on Netflix,” Pedowitz said. “And it’s performing, I just was told before I got onstage, very, very well in terms of binging for Seasons 1 and 2.”

Rothenberg said at “The 100” panel that Pedowitz had prodded him to have the show develop its own language for the Grounders, and cast members talked about how difficult it can be to gain fluency in it.

Debnam-Carey and Porter said that they constantly run their Grounder lines on their way to the set. “Transportation, that’s how we learn to speak it,” Porter said. Eliza Taylor, who plays Clarke, invented a song to increase her facility with the language, and pleaded with Rothenberg to release a video of cast members flubbing their Grounder-language lines.

“I’m guilty of forgetting my Grounder and saying absolutely anything with conviction,” said Marie Avgeropoulos, who plays Octavia. 

Aside from Rothenberg, the entire panel was made up of women who play key characters on the show, and all of them said they were relieved and grateful to be part of an ensemble with so many complex female characters.

“I think I’m finally at a point where I can take it for granted,” Porter said.

“It’s a very exciting time for women in television getting to play very strong roles,” Taylor said. “I’m grateful every day. For me, I’m blond, blue eyes. Of course I get cast as the dumb one, the slutty one. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to actually play a character with true integrity and strength, and it’s absolutely amazing.”

“I always enjoy playing characters where fans come up to me and say, ‘I hate you,’” Porter said. “You don’t want anyone to feel wishy-washy about you. I don’t think I’m a bad person in real life… I very much enjoy being able to explore all the different dark places one can go to. In a world where so much is about survival, it’s going to get dark.”

“I think what makes it interesting is when you have a strong woman and the strength is coming from vulnerability and being flawed. And the strength coming from there, as a woman, is more empowering. It’s very interesting to play,” said Paige Turco, who plays Abby, the show’s chancellor. “For myself as well, being older, I’m so grateful. It’s rare to have so many women on one show.”

In the fast-moving world of “The 100,” “if women want something done, they go do it,” said Avgeropoulos. “They’re not a damsel in distress, having to ask for a man go do something for her.”

Though she gets caught up in some political intrigues in season 3, her character will continue to look like a woman most comfortable in the outdoors and on the move.

“I actually don’t feel normal without dirt on me now,” Taylor said. 

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  1. madhu says:

    where is the video??

  2. Skyler says:

    As a PR professional, I will say something that may not be well-recieved here, but it is categorically true: Jason Rothenberg’s handling of the fallout after Lexa’s death has been atrocious. I say that as a PR manager who has coached hundreds of small businesses.
    Watching Jason this past week has been professional torture.
    He has literally done nothing right when it comes to handling a PR crisis, so either he has some HORRIBLE advice on his side of the fence, or he is ignoring the counsel he is getting and sticking to his mental high ground.
    I love The 100 and hope for success, but Jason is digging his own grave at this point–and this would be the case if he was dealing with ANY upset demographic.
    If Jason was Coca-Cola and 10% of buyers reported getting urine in their cans of Coke after a certain shipment and all Coca-Cola did was post rave reviews about their new recipe, then COCA-COLA WOULD HAVE A PR PROBLEM that would systemically grow for as long as it remained unaddressed.
    Jason, categorically, has a big-ass problem, which he is choosing to avoid and dismiss. This is something you CAN’T do when you are in his position over a product (The 100).
    And while the disenfranchised group has become overly aggressive at times and crossed lines, I think their core movement is sound.
    Their message is: It’s 2016 and we will no longer support shows that turn them into a trope for the sake of plot. They deserve better.
    Sure, lesbian characters are killed off all the time on TV, but for some reason, Lexa was the tipping point for a lot of lesbians. The show rode Lexa hard, gave her more screen time than casted regulars, promoted her and the sapphic relationship with Clarke hard, and engaged Lexa’s fanbase to recruit and trend for the show.
    How can these people NOT feel used? They categorically were, by definition. In PR, they’re called a “street team”–which is a group of passionate volunteers who work out of love for the project and really get no other payoff, other than the occasional thanks, shout out, or access to the product.
    Jason had two active street teams in Clexa and Bellarke shippers. He encouraged them both to trend for him even as he disavowed shipping.
    In short, Jason played a dangerous PR game and he lost. Hard core.
    Ask any PR professional anywhere about how he’s acted this past week and watch their blood pressure rise. It’s textbook bad.
    Conversely, Alycia was a class act in putting her limited tweets out there after the episode aired, and the episode writer has spent every moment since the episode started airing listening and responding.
    Here we are a week later, and Javi has largely re-earned the trust of LGBT individuals in becoming the showrunner for Xena, while Jason is sitting where he’s sitting.
    The way I see it, Jason is eating his own karma with this revolt. Handling this well was an option and he didn’t choose it.
    So I choose to be academic about what happens next.
    Can these kids–because these are quite literally teenagers, college students, and twenty-somethings that are mostly in revolt–take down a show in order to send a message to the ENTIRE entertainment community that they are done being nothing more than stepping stones in storytelling?
    That would be amazing and historic if they pulled that off. The odds are decidedly against them, but if they’re loud enough the CW will have to consider two options:
    Cancel The 100.
    Remove Jason as showrunner based on his poor judgment in both creating and handling this situation. (On a business level, it simply cannot be repeated in other creative decisions and responses.)
    Again, that’s just me talking from my head and not my heart. The 100 is my favorite show on TV, but…as showrunners have been saying all week: “It’s only a show.”
    What’s happening on Tumblr and in the lives of a marginalized community is real, and should I really value the future of a show over social progress in the real world?
    I don’t know that I can. So I’ll watch if the show continues on, but I will applaud the LGBT community if they ultimately unite enough to be heard and responded to.

  3. Kathy says:

    It’s a really silly series … Thinking that women would be in charged in every tribe and clan. As if women are just as strong as men. Who are you kidding??? LOL!!! It’s all pretense with this the women’s lib and, PC nonsense. And I love SciFi stuff. But this is just beyond the realm of believability. And the lesbian crap … like a remnant of people after an apocalypse would embrace this relationship. Procreation would be what you’re striving for to build the population. Not this aberrant sexual, and sterile coupling. Oh I get your agenda alright. Push the women’s lib, and homosexual agenda. Sorry, but that does not a good story make. At least for those of us that have not been indoctrinated by the morals and values of the media and entertainment industry. Some of us still know a believable story-line. And this aint it.

  4. Pablo says:

    Rothenburger..if you ever need
    Any fill in,actors just let me know
    I’m glad my subject matter has been so profitable for you..think about it…I’m thinkin of opt’n in..

  5. Emma says:

    Two friendly suggestions; “strategies moves”?

    And I would call Abby the Ark’s chancellor, not “the show’s” chancellor

    Thanks for the write-up of today’s event!

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