The 100 is a show that I find problematic. A lot of people around me describe reality television as a "guilty pleasure," well... I can't go so far as to watch reality television and I will continue to wholeheartedly judge those that do, but I can watch The 100 as a guilty pleasure. It's cheesy and the story makes little sense at times, but it's got an interesting cast of characters who go through some serious development across the seasons. The one thing that keeps me coming back though is that it's managed to pull on the old heart strings more than a few times, which is never easy to do.
A big part of The 100's fanbase is focused on the idea of 'shipping.' Don't freak out if you don't know what that means, when some post apocalyptic pals asked what my favorite 'ship' was I said that it was obviously the Battlestar Galactica.
Oh JJ, poor... blissfully unaware, JJ.
'Shipping' is short for relationships based around TV show characters, and it's one of the driving forces of The 100's popularity. There are whole wiki pages dedicated to the naming of the various couples that could potentially arise on the show.
Now, personally... I don't care who's banging who in a story. Fictional sex and feely-feels don't really do anything for me. But as a storyteller I can get behind the crafting of compelling relationships between characters, so that's how I've had to frame this fan phenomenon. So without further ado, here's my thoughts on some of the relationships in The 100.
*sigh* what am I doing with my life?
Kabby - Kane & Abby
Probably one of the most unexpected relationships in the show, Kane had some surprise character growth early on that set him up to be an interesting character. He's an ex-politician with a religious upbringing who now acts as a diplomat and advocate for peace where ever possible. Abby is the doctor on the show and has been fairly consistent, she lost her first partner in space and mainly cares for her daughter. It's little surprise that they're together, at this point they're the only two characters of that age group that're still alive, but the writers have actually put some effort into the relationship so it never seems forced.
Memori - Murphy & Emori
These two got together because they were both on the outside of society for various reasons and they're both willing to screw anyone else over to survive. They've each got some baggage that influences how they think and react to certain situations and so you could tell that it was more a relationship of convenience than anything more compelling. They were both in similar situations when they first met and so they got together, but by season 5 Emori is trying to improve herself and so they've drifted apart. Sad, but they were each only ever keeping the other company until something better came along for them both.
Bellarke - Bellamy & Clarke
This is the big one that everyone wants to happen, but personally I hope it never does. These two characters became leaders of the first group of Sky Crew to make it to the ground and while they were at odds most of the time, they quickly came to respect one another. The problem is, because this show is aimed at high school girls there's a lot of fake drama instilled into the narrative and because of this Clarke tends to be a very weak protagonist. She flip-flops around and changes her mind and her world view more times than you can count. Honestly I think she's the weakest part of the show, but the fans love her so they want to see her get together with the leading man.
Becho - Bellamy & Echo
These two have an interesting history together, they first met when she was imprisoned in an old bunker and he managed to save her. Then they had the old back and forth of flirting and betrayal that's so common in this series and finally, after being stuck on a space station for years, they got together. They're both compelling characters in their own right, both comparably powerful and because of the time jump they've already been together for a few years by this point. They're back down on Earth now though, so anything can change at this point.
Murven - Murphy & Raven
These two are my favorite characters on The 100. Murphy has got the most compelling backstory and has had some serious character growth, he went from revenge driven psycho to reluctant hero. Raven has been through the grinder as well, she's lost more than most and has been wounded in ways that everyone else is lucky enough to have avoided. They're not together but by season 5 they're stuck on a space station alone together so anything is possible. It's been heavily hinted at that Raven is the only person that Murphy respects and she's got enough clout with him that she can call him out on his bullshit. I think they'd make a good pair, mainly because they've both been through enough and they each deserve a break!
A lot of the fans were shocked when season 5 came about and Becho was a thing, largely because it seemed to preclude Bellarke from happening. I'm okay with this, like I said I think Bellamy is waaaay better off with Echo than Clarke. They're simply a more interesting couple, their different backgrounds and comparable skill sets make them a solid pair. Bellamy and Echo can stand together as equals, but Bellamy could never stand as an equal to Clarke on account of the fact that she's the protagonist and messiah-like savior of the world so many times over... despite being such a weak goddamn character. Honestly, in terms of narrative I think Clarke's best character outcome is to be doomed to walk alone, like Jaha.
My fear though, is that Echo will be killed off so that Bellamy has a clean excuse to get with Clarke... simply to accommodate and appease the ravenous fans. It's one of those "getting what you want, not what you need" type situations. It's silly and shallow and it will be a weak and unsatisfying ending, so I hope this doesn't come pass. Despite the shoddy world building at times, the writers of The 100 have managed to make the relationships pretty compelling so I have faith that they'll come up with something appropriate.
There's a whole heap of other relationships that're pretty good too. Monty & Harper are great together, they're probably going to be that background couple that're always together. Clarke was actually pretty good with Lexa, both being leaders of their respective peoples. The world lost it's shit when Lexa was killed and some ridiculous pledge was developed to try and give gay characters perpetual plot armor, which is just dumb. Nathan was with Bryan for most of the series, and they were good together, but Bryan was killed off for some reason. After this, four seasons in, the writers sort of revealed Jackson to be gay... which seemed like a kneejerk reaction to avoid another Lexa situation. More quote filling than an organic narrative choice.
It's weird, but the relationships in this show are actually one of the main draw cards, even for me. It's always interesting seeing how these people evolve and whether or not they stay together after they do. The drama is a little contrived at times, and the world building is nigh-terrible, but there's enough solid storytelling to keep me interested. I'm never going to give it a free pass but I'll always give it the time of day.
PS - Can I just point out that all these people have been fucking for seven years at this point, and yet somehow nobody has been knocked up? It's the post-apocalypse, there's no rubbers... how are they avoiding babies?