“100 Humans” is Light-hearted but Lacks Substance

Screenshot from "100 Humans" via Sammy Obeid/YouTube

100 Humans is the latest documentary series to appear on Netflix. It adopts a fun, light-hearted format and is a welcome break from the steady flow of serial killer documentaries that have been trickling out over the past year. Unfortunately, the show’s light-hearted tone is mediated by a total lack of substance.

The concept of the series is to test out theories that people wonder about but are too scared to ask. Do people work harder when they fear punishment or seek a reward? Do good looking people typically face less jail time? Can music affect our tastebuds? These may be questions that you have pondered yourself or perhaps they are things that have never even crossed your mind.

The trouble is, the show is ultimately based on a combination of social idealism and pseudo-science. The theories are tested out on 100 people and although the group is diverse, the results of tests undertaken by a small sample group say very little about society as a whole. Perhaps this is why so many of the “scientific tests” show no actual correlation between the ideas being explored.

What’s more, some of the theories tested are so ridiculous that it seems unlikely that anybody has thought of them but the show’s producers. Does anyone really think that a high sperm count improves your dance moves? Watching scenes like this make the show as a whole feel like a colossal waste of time. They undermine the more curious moments and make each forty-minute episode drag out more than this indefinite period of self-isolation.

Ultimately, the show tries to be fun and scientific but fails on both accounts. The “science” comprises biased results and uninformative studies while the “fun” is, in fact, boring, unimaginative, and silly for the sake of being silly. It is a shame because the concept of the show is an interesting one. It just never blossomed into anything beyond a drawn-out and tedious thought experiment. If you haven’t started watching it yet, don’t bother. Only 1 in 100 people will find it remotely entertaining.