Netflix’s Black Mirror offers a twisted look into the perils of abusing technology in allegorical, Twilight Zone-esk stories. With three seasons and thirteen episodes at this time, it manages to be one of the cleverest—if more disturbing—shows that Netflix has to offer.
Each of Black Mirror’s episodes is a self-contained story with different characters and problems, and can be watched in any order—though sharp-eyed fans might catch some easter eggs thrown into each episode, linking them all to similar universes. Some episodes, like Shut up and Dance take place in a future very near—if one not here already—whilst episodes like Fifteen Million Merits take place in a distant, dystopian future which will hopefully never happen. Every episode, however, has something we can recognize as something we use on a regular basis.
The victims of each episode all have one thing in common: being closely tied to some form of device, entertainment or network. Whether it is a look into how our use of social media might affect people who love us after we die, the facelessness of trolls on twitter, why the cameras on your laptop might not be a good thing or what happens when politics becomes a mockery of itself, the show manages to give viewers an eerie feeling; eerie because some of the situations are just a little too identifiable.
While being one of the best written shows I’ve seen, the show certainly pushes some boundaries. And though strangely at odds with the rest of the episodes, the very first one, The National Anthem, might be enough to turn off some viewers to the show completely. Messages are never blatant and the show never insults viewers’ intelligence—perhaps just their addiction to their phones—and even that is not so much a shaming of viewers as a rather cheeky recognition that it’s a problem for everyone.
Like most Netflix Original shows, Black Mirror takes advantage of not being restricted by television ratings and is rated Mature for language, some violence and quite a bit of—seemingly—unnecessary graphic sex. And though the show is not a particularly violent one, the characters manage to find themselves in such painful situations that sometimes the viewer does tend to squirm, if only uncomfortable with just how real and nasty the show’s reality can be. The rating of the show is a shame, I think, considering its impressive story lines, thoughtful messages and quiet warnings that it’s a pity to limit its audience. Many younger viewers could perhaps find some instruction from the show, if only it were age appropriate.
Black Mirror was originally on Channel 4 in the UK, but was picked up by Netflix several years ago for the newest season. Whilst the quality was still fantastic and the actors wonderful and recognizable to people who watch enough British television, since Netflix took on the production, the quality has gotten even better. Bigger name actors like Jon Hamm of Mad Men and Bryce Dallas Howard of Jurassic World have graced episodes and the show has become a little more international. With a fourth season on the way and the show growing in popularity, it is only natural to expect it shall get even better.
As for when we’ll see the newest season, filming has wrapped up with six new episodes now in post-production and the creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones have promised the show will be as unpleasant as ever. There is no release date for season four yet, but hopefully viewers can look for it before the end of the year.