3%

  • Title: 3%
  • Country of Origin: Brazil
  • Language: Portuguese (with English subtitles)
  • Genre: Drama, Young Adult Thriller
  • Released: 2016
  • Run Time: ~45 Minutes Per Episode
  • Creator: Pedro Aguilera (Brazil)
  • Available on: Netflix (Exclusive)
  • Recommendation by Brian Magnuson

For Backyard Global, there is less a foreign cultural immersion feeling for this Netflix production from Brazil and more a feeling of being lost in a story about changing your station in life through almost any means. This dystopian story is a cerebral meditation on a world gone mad. There is only rich and poor. The middle class has been absorbed by the other two classes. How do you break out of poverty and become one of the 3%? The Process will set you free- if you are good enough.

The series 3% begins as we follow a large group of young people that have reached the age of candidacy. We follow the twenty-year-old "Candidates" as they strive through "the Process" to earn their way to "the Offshore"; a transition that would take them away from extreme dog-eat-dog poverty on the mainland to an unseen utopia somewhere out in the ocean. They mostly want to be Candidates in the Process, it’s their Golden Ticket to the good life. As the individuals, pairs, or groups face intricately devised tests, failures are dropped or removed from the program like the American television show Survivor. Candidates fail and are sent back to their old way of life and families. But, if they pass then they earn increasing rewards for each success as the large group is winnowed down to 3%. Get it? Only three percent make it through the Process and earn new lives Offshore. Along the way, alliances are formed and reformed, and secrets are revealed. One of these revelations is "the Cause", the underground movement seeking to undermine and destroy the Process. To me, the interesting aspect of this show are the tests. The tests can be individual or grouped to reveal leadership abilities, among other things that would be desirable or undesirable in a perfect world. Few of them are physical, tending to lean toward the mental aspects. This is how the Offshore world seeks to add to their population of very exclusive inhabitants. There is so much potential for this show and it incubates so many questions. For example, how does the Offshore support itself? Why do they cull from the mainland? Don’t the Offshore inhabitants reproduce? Why can’t mainland inhabitants create a higher quality of life?

As of this writing, an eight episode season of this show is available on Netflix. Wikipedia states that another season of eight episodes has been greenlighted, but, that was 2016. So far, season 2 is unavailable. I initially began watching the show to learn about Brazilian culture or see non-touristy sights throughout Brazil. The show mainly takes place indoors. The characters, from what little I know about the Brazilian people, (Giselle, anyone?) are very representative of Brazil in that they look like people from all over the world blended. The most immersive part of the show is hearing the Portuguese language. Go for the language, stay for the story. I give it one globe for cultural immersion and five for excitement!

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