I have long wished for easy access to TV shows from other countries. Thankfully, Netflix has begun to not just distribute content across borders, but actively produce that content. One recent product of this effort is Japan’s Terrace House, which I wrote about here. But their international show getting the most buzz is currently Brazil’s 3%.
This drama depicts a world in which inequality is pervasive by design. The general population lives in squalor, but individuals are promised the chance to earn a coveted place in O Lado de Lá (the Offshore). This supposed paradise is reserved for the superior 3% of the population, who prove their value through a quasi-religious ritual called The Process. In a series of tests, 20-year-olds compete viciously to show their intelligence, strength and collaborative skills. Like The Hunger Games, 3% portrays the ruthless ways in which the privileged turn the struggle of the masses into ritual violence.
3% is more raw and less campy than The Hunger Games, which some will prefer and some won’t. Overall, it creates an original twist on what could happen if disparity between classes continues to accelerate across the globe. While it is relevant to what’s happening here, its story is less abstract in its homeland of Brazil, which is home to staggering income inequality. When I visited Rio de Janeiro last year, I was given an unintentional tour of the stratification between classes on the ride to Rio from the airport. The highway passes through miles of sprawling slums before descending into the famed beach city, which features some of the most posh neighborhoods I’ve ever seen. 3% is a universal story, but I’m sure it takes on even more layers of meaning in its own country. I hope Netflix brings us more stories from Brazil soon.
A raw dystopian thriller that’s gritty, unpredictable and full of fresh talent.
You Should Watch If
You love dystopian stories and want to brush up on your Portuguese.
The big reveal at the end, when we find out what getting to the Offshore really takes.
How little of this alternate universe we get to explore in season 1. I’m hoping we get to visit more parts of it in season 2.