Enemies to friends, a slow build up, an ever changing and developing relationship. Nope, it’s not a romantic ship. It’s a beautiful exploration of friendship.
The 100 has completely managed to break the mould by centring the friendship of the two major characters. Through five seasons, there has been no romantic or sexual implications with either Bellamy or Clarke. They just love each other, as friends. And the creators of the show, and the actors who play the characters have gone out of their way to emphasise that Bellamy and Clarke share a platonic love, regardless of what shippers might want.
This is a really important move that The 100 has made, particularly for a show largely aimed at teens and young adults. Audiences are generally surrounded by couples been thrown at each other and always have been. The 100 pulled the plug on that. Clarke is allowed her own story and is the lead of the show – not Bellamy. She doesn’t bow to him. She’s allowed to be independent of a man, and choose romantic and sexual relationships on her terms (with men and women). She can lead, but she will also work with Bellamy to lead together when there are times she simply can’t do everything alone. It’s empowering for women, especially bi women, but it also resist a very predictable trope. They don’t have to be lovers. They simply choose to work together.
It’s not been the easiest relationship for either of them. Bellamy has felt abandoned by Clarke on two occasions, and on one of those times she actually did leave him for dead. Clarke, meanwhile, had to deal with Bellamy trying to kidnap and imprison her for ‘her own good’. Some of this can be brushed off as ‘well, it’s high stakes in a post-apocalyptic world’ but it does undeniably venture into really toxic territory. This is emphasised further still when Bellamy murders Trikru’s army, claiming to have done it to protect everyone – but Clarke was in Trikru’s care. They could have easily decided to murder Clarke for retribution if they really were the monsters Bellamy made out.
There are undeniably issues with the relationship. but platonic love remains at its core. However, it would have been great if there was some deeper exploration of these tensions but the show often falls down in trying to run too quickly. There are only around twelve episodes a series and most of those episodes are taken up by war and people running for their lives. Clarke had to put aside her resentment of Bellamy’s actions to save everyone (and because of her own guilt) and she never got to address this because she was too busy saving the world again…and again. The relationship would have been deeper still if they had time to pause and really talk about it all.
Yet, it’s two seasons on now and quite a few years (okay, more like a century) for Bellamy and Clarke so while the earlier writing had been grating at times, it’s still worth looking at who they are now and celebrating the path they have been put on: one where they are both separate and yet together. Bellamy is happy with Echo and Clarke has her dead ex-girlfriend arguing with her through her adopted daughter (don’t ask; it’s complicated). Still, they stand side by side looking out onto a new world because they have chosen to work on their friendship and to try to do better by each other this time. Their platonic love is one of the cornerstones of the show. Their loyalty, commitment and devotion – even through what are really low times – gives respect and value to friendship like no other show is doing.
It’s brilliant particularly for aromantic, asexual and/or romance repulsed viewers, who have long had to endure every lead who is a woman being thrown at every lead man. Friendship is just as equal and valid to romance. What’s particularly special though is that shippers can have Bellarke in text form as there is a book that explores that – it’s just the show has chosen a different but equally special journey for its two main characters. It’s wonderful and refreshing to have a show that does not side-line friendship for romance. The 100 is radical for choosing platonic love.