‘3%’ is a Brazilian dystopian thriller web television which premiered in 2016 on Netflix. Created by Pedro Aguilera, the series is set in an unspecified future where 20-year-old individuals of the impoverished “Inland” have the single opportunity to complete “The Process” and advance to the affluence of the distant “Offshore” society. While most of the unsuccessful candidates are simply eliminated, some fail to survive, leading to only “3%” of the candidates succeeding.
The show has received positive reviews for its narrative intricacies and thematic allegories exploring the future, the concept of survival and biological calamities. It is complemented by the performances of the actors who sharpen the tone and narrative. ‘3%’ premiered in 2016 and has been renewed for a third season, which was released on June 7, 2019. For this article, I have taken into account shows that build on the narrative through the concept of dystopian fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction. With all that said now, here’s the list of best shows similar to ‘3%’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these series like ‘3%’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
10. The 100 (2014– )
Adapted from Kass Morgan’s young adult science fiction novel series of the same name, ‘The 100’ is set ninety-seven years after a nuclear war that has destroyed the civilization. To curb the situation, a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors send “one hundred” juvenile delinquents back to Earth, with the hope of re-populating the planet. A post-apocalyptic science fiction drama, ‘The 100’ builds upon the futuristic wasteland with patience and calmness which makes the show such a great watch. Developed by producer and writer Jason Rothenberg, the show’s narrative is inventive in adapting the right elements from the novel. The show consists of six seasons and as of 2019, it has been renewed for a seventh season.
9. The Rain (2018 – )
A Danish post-apocalyptic series, ‘The Rain’ is a Netflix production co-created by Jannik Tai Mosholt, Esben Toft Jacobsen and Christian Potalivo. After a virus carried by rainfall wipes out almost all humans in Scandinavia, siblings Simone and Rasmus take shelter in a bunker to service the horrendous virus. Six years later, they come out of hiding to search for their father, a scientist by profession who left them in the bunker under the pretence of saving them but never returned to unite with them. In the endeavour, they join a group of young survivors and together they travel across Denmark and Sweden, searching for a safe place, and for the siblings’ father, who may be able to provide the answers and the cure. The show has received praise for its writing and character development. ‘The Rain’ has been renewed for a second season, which was released on May 17, 2019.
8. Altered Carbon (2018)
Balancing multiple genres, ‘Altered Carbon’ could easily deviate from the substance to focus on the styles, given its intrinsic focus on the tone and the visual aesthetics. However, the creators are well aware of it and blended the elements to create an engaging piece of work. Adapted from British novelist Richard K. Morgan’s book of the same name, published in 2002, ‘Altered Carbon’ is set in a future where one’s consciousness is digitized and stored. In that future, a prisoner returns to life in a new body and must solve a mind-bending murder to achieve his long-awaited freedom. Adapted by Greek screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis, the show premiered in 2018 and is a Netflix original production. It explores a variety of themes such as artificial intelligence and technology through concepts of Cyberpunk and Neo-noir. The show has been praised for its complexity in the narrative and visual aesthetics.
7. Jericho (2006-2008)
Set in a small town in Kansas where the residents suddenly find themselves being hovered over by a huge mushroom cloud over near-by Denver, Colorado. ‘Jericho’ follows the townspeople as they struggle to find answers about the blast and solutions on how to survive. Co-created by Stephen Chbosky, Josh Schaer and Jonathan E. Steinberg, ‘Jericho’ premiered in 2006, but unfortunately lasted for just two seasons due to poor ratings. However, since then, the show has gone on to garner positive reviews for its inventive premise and commendable execution.
6. The Handmaid’s Tale (2017 – )
‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is set in a dystopian future after the Second American Civil War. In the future, a totalitarian society subjects fertile women, who are termed as “Handmaids”, into child-bearing enslavement. The show is adapted from Canadian author Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel of the same name, published in 1985. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ adopts the literary narrative into the visual medium with dexterity.
Developed by writer and producer Bruce Miller, the show received high critical praise, mainly for the performances by the leads, especially Elisabeth Moss as the protagonist, for which she won Golden Globe for “Best Actress”. In addition, the writing of the show is impeccable and it skillfully adapts the literary stylistics to the format of the television. The show has a rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. While it has dipped in ratings, with the second one scoring 89% and the third scoring an average 76%, the series’ precision cannot be denied.
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5. The Man in the High Castle (2015– )
Adapted by writer and producer Frank Spotnitz onto the small screen from Philip K. Dick’s alternate history novel ‘The Man in the High Castle’, published in 1962, the show is set in a dystopian America which is controlled by Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. There, a young woman named Juliana Crain, essayed by Alexa Davalos, discovers a mysterious film that seems to hold the key to toppling the totalitarian regimes. The show’s premise raises one’s intrigue and the execution does satisfy the hunger for it. The show has received high praise for its descriptive narrative, with Matt Fowler of IGN calling it “a superb, frightening experience filled with unexpected twists and (some sci-fi) turns”.
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4. Black Mirror (2011 – )
Created by Charlie Brooker, ‘Black Mirror’ is a science fiction anthology with every episode functioning as a standalone story, each exploring the wonderful but possibly perilous high-tech which affects humanity in levels we cannot comprehend, causing interesting yet sometimes horrifying outcomes. Though the show is not a distinctive dystopian fiction, several episodes do explore the near future. It weaves the concepts of technology and its relationship with humans. The anthology has received positive reviews, and has won a number of awards. The critical success of the show has also spawned a fifth season, which released in June of 2019 and a standalone film, titled ‘Black Mirror: Bandersnatch’ (2018).
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3. Samurai Jack (2001-2017)
Created by Russian animator Genndy Tartakovsky, ‘Samurai Jack’ is filled with allegories and themes that are derived from the legendary Akira Kurusawa’s narrative structure and the stylistics of Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western cinema. A blend of dystopian fiction and science fantasy, the show follows the titular Jack, a Japanese samurai who has been sent through time to a dystopian future ruled by the cruel shape-shifting demon “Aku”. The show explores Jack’s quests to travel back in time and defeat Aku before he can take over the world and wreck complete annihilation. The show premiered in 2001 on Cartoon Network and has spanned for five seasons, with the last season airing twelve years later in 2017. ‘Samurai Jack’ has received positive reviews for its visual aesthetics and intrinsic writing. The show won eight Primetime Emmy Awards, six Annie Awards, one OIAF Award and has often been rated as one of the best-animated shows of all time.
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2. Westworld (2016 – )
‘Westworld’ is a dystopian science fiction western set in an uncertain future. Co-created and adapted by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy from Michael Crichton’s ‘Westworld’ (1973), the series is set in the titular Westworld which is a technologically advanced Wild-West-themed amusement park populated by android hosts. The park supplies services to the high-paying guests who indulge in their wildest fantasies within the park without fear of retaliation from the hosts as they are functioned by their programming to be incapacitated to harm humans. The show is quite disturbing due to the taut writing and the performances by the actors. ‘Westworld’, since the first season, has received positive reviews for its visual work, performances and the aforementioned coherent writing. It premiered on HBO in 2016, and consists of three seasons, with the third one releasing in 2020.
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1. Firefly (2002–2003)
A space western drama, ‘Firefly’ is set in 2517, where a group of humans are in a new star system. The show follows the adventures of the renegade crew of Serenity, a “Firefly-class” spaceship. The series is created by Joss Whedon and much of the cinematic taste we saw in ‘Avengers’ (2012) and ‘Age of Ultron’ (2015) were developed in ‘Firefly’. The show explores the idea of how humanity would evolve in the years to come and its relationship with technology. Though it received high praises during its one season run, it was cancelled with no explanation. This led to ‘Firefly’ receiving a massive cult following over the years.
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