Show Title: Black Mirror
Created by: Charlie Brooker
Seasons: 3 (Season 3 released on Netflix Oct. 21,2016)
# of episodes total: 12
Length of episodes: Approx. 1 hour
Original Country of Origin: UK
NO SPOILERS FOR ANY EPISODES
I knew I was in for a weird experience when I first started watching Black Mirror. I mean the first episode revolves around the kidnapping of a member of a fictional Royal family and in order to get her back, the Prime Minister must have sexual intercourse with a pig. On live TV. That shocking premise was enough to get me to start the show but what kept me watching was its immaculate writing and its original commentary on modern technology to make it some of the most thought-provoking TV out there.
The format of Black Mirror is unusual in some aspects. It’s a science fiction anthology show where every episode is completely separate from the previous episode but all the episodes revolve around technology. Having that format allows each episode to take place in different worlds with entirely different characters, actors, rules and time periods. The first episode, “The National Anthem”, takes place in relatively modern-day Britain but the second episode, “Fifteen Million Merits” takes place in an alternate reality in an isolated facility where people ride exercise bikes to gain merit points to compete on an entertainment show and you are constantly bombarded by advertisements all day long. The worldbuilding sounds over the top but the great thing about Black Mirror is that its details and parallels to our modern world make it entirely plausible. And each episode spends virtually no dialogue in trying to explain what the rules are in this world. Instead it relies on visual cues to help the viewer figure it out, almost like a mini mystery in each episode. Each episode sort of plays like a thriller. You know something bad is going to happen and it’s not going to end well purely by the setup of the world but you don’t know how. In the last episode, “The Entire History of You”, people are implanted with memory chips so they can replay their conversations and never miss an appointment and things like that. The main characters are a seemingly happy couple but the suspense is expertly built up to make the most use of the technology described and how it leads to this couples’ ultimate downfall. I loved Season 1 and I think all the episodes were really strong.
Episode Rating (Worst to Best)
- Fifteen Million Merits
- The National Anthem
- The Entire History of You
Most Black Mirror episodes are really depressing and that was never more so apparent than in Season 2. However season 2 had my two favorite episodes out of this entire series (and there are only 3 episodes in each season so..). The first one is “Be Right Back” which follows a woman who is grieving for her boyfriend. She receives an AI from her friend that looks and acts exactly like her boyfriend using his past voicemails and online messages to recreate his persona. The use of technology in this episode or in any Black Mirror episode doesn’t feel like it’s from far into the future. We have or we are getting close to having these types of technology featured. It feels as though we could step inside this world the very next day and that’s what makes it really exciting but also really terrifying. And just because these episodes are self-contained does not mean it’s any less emotionally investing. It explores the human consequences of using these. You might think the main character of “Be Right Back” is crazy and a little creepy for using an AI to replace her deceased boyfriend. Who would do that? But the episode plays with a well of human insecurities and concepts like grief, memory and what separates us as humans from something that humans made.
Episode Rating (Worst to Best)
1.The Waldo Moment (I actually didn’t even watch this one lol..because it had unusually bad ratings for Black Mirror)
2. White Bear (The twist fucked me up)
3. Be Right Back (I almost cried)
Season 3 was the weakest out of all the seasons, series..whatever. In Season 3, this show was transferred over to Netflix and instead of 3 episodes, it now had 6 episodes. Binge-watching them felt a little impossible because the satire felt like it was trying too hard to make a point and a lot of the setup now felt predictable. The first episode, for example, is about a world where people’s statuses are literally determined by how many likes they get on social media which turned a little too gimmicky to me. These episodes can be watched in any order but it was worth slogging through the first 3 episodes to get to the best episode, “San Junipero”, a story about two women meeting each other and falling in love in an ’80s era world and that’s all I’ll say about that because half of the fun is figuring out how this world works. If anything, I suggest watching Season 3 first and then going back and watching the brilliance that is Seasons 1 and 2. None of the episodes bleed into the next, so each hour-long episode feels like a finished movie.
Episode Rating (Worst to Best):
- Hate in the Nation
- Men Against Fire (video gamers might like this more)
- Shut Up and Dance
- San Junipero
Even through the bad episodes, I still completely adore this show. I think it’s a must watch especially for scifi junkies like me. People have compared it to the Twilight Zone. I don’t know how accurate that comparison is but if it’s compared to The Twilight Zone, I’m sure it’s a good thing. Let me know if you’ve seen this show, what your favorite episodes were, if you’ve heard it or if you’re planning on watching it.