Black Mirror Series Review by Edward Muhoro
IMDb Rating: 8.8/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Metacritic: 86% (user review)
No. of Seasons: 2
No. of Episodes: 7 (3 per season, plus a bonus Christmas episode)
We all have that one super annoying person in our life whose very existence just really REALLY gets on your damn nerves. They’ve made you wonder several times what it would be like to have the ability to block someone in real life, such that you’d never have to see their stupid face or hear their stupid shit any more. Maybe you’ve also had moments where you’re arguing with your significant other about a particular event that happened in the past but each of you has a different account of how it actually went down. More often than not, the argument is never settled but you just wish you could rewind to that particular time and date and watch it in real time just to see who was right and therefore conclusively settle the fight. If I told you that technology exists, I’m sure you’d pour all your life savings into getting it, no matter the cost.
Well, this show will make you think twice about this decision and does well to remind you to be careful what you wish for.
Black Mirror captures almost all your worst fears about the future and rather grimly portrays the dark side of human behaviour in this age of social media and technology.
The tech innovations illustrated in the show seems rather cool. An implant that acts as both a hard drive and a media player, such that everything you experience is recorded on the chip and you’re able to replay the experiences any time you please (In essence, a PVR decoder but in your head). Software that sifts through a loved one’s e-mails and social media posts that will then enable it to accurately mimic their mannerisms, with the end result being that you’d be able to have conversations with this software and it would instead feel like you’re chatting with your loved one. A room with screens forming the walls and ceiling, such that whatever you’re watching covers this entire area. Surround TV, literally. Sounds pretty cool, right?
These are just some of the futuristic technological scenarios that this British TV drama explores. Like most British TV series, the episodes are few (3 episodes per season in this instance, plus the Christmas special entitled “White Christmas”) and just like most British TV series, they are incredibly insightful and well thought-out.
Each episode is a stand-alone show. The characters and setting are different for each episode, but the underlying theme remains the same: the future of society in this brave new world of super technology and social media.
Some of the disturbing uses technology could be put to use is portrayed rather stunningly here. The show creator, Charlie Brooker, is a talented and well respected satirist in the television universe. (One other brilliant series he is responsible for is Dead Set, which follows the lives of Big Brother contestants during a zombie apocalypse). He extrapolates, among other themes, the current fascination with pop culture and over-glorification of reality television to portray a world devoid of any empathy and our obsession with technology that is almost succeeding at turning the human race into a bunch of mindless zombies.
What makes the show brilliant is not the depiction of the technology available in this not-too-distant dystopia, but the manner in which real-world moral and ethical concerns are addressed.
The show has this rather unique way of getting the viewer to exercise some introspection into their own behaviour. It’ll get you squirming uncomfortably in your seat because you can actually envision yourself using that technology the way it’s portrayed in the particular episode.
There are some episodes that will actually get you to say, “Wait, holy shit. That’s me. That is so me. If I had such a device, I would totally use it this way.” The one episode that you’ll resonate with the most in this regard is “The Entire History of You” which was a personal favourite among the people who have watched the show to completion.
What also makes Black Mirror a bit of an uncomfortable watch is that the alternate realities shown aren’t at all far-fetched. Humans are conceited and apathetic enough to allow the scenarios playing out to actually happen.
The show has already in fact, accurately (and eerily) predicted the future. No spoilers but one of the episodes is very very close in substance to a news story that came out this year about the British Prime Minister and something to do with the source of your beloved bacon. In fact, once the news story came out, the first thing some people did was to compare the similarities between the news story and the Black Mirror episode.
If you’re looking for a show with happy endings that’s going to get you to laugh out loud and warm your heart with infectious humour or cute romantic moments, Black Mirror is definitely NOT for you. If, however, you appreciate dark humour, insanely genius plot twists, and very unique storytelling, I highly recommend this series.
The entire series is a cautionary word on where we’re headed as a society, and in this instance, we would actually do well to heed the director’s warning.