Fellow TheMovies.co.za writer, Noelle, introduced me to Black Mirror while we were discussing futuristic bionic eyes (which already exist, by the way) after I recently had eye surgery. Even though something like that could literally be life-saving, there’s also some scary possibilities that come with a break-through technology. Intrigued, I started a marathon binge-watch of the show, just in time for the release of Season 3 on Netflix.
And that’s basically what Black Mirror is about. Not just bionic eyes, but the future of technology and how it messes with society. From social media to virtual reality, the looming energy crisis and internet blackmail, the future looks pretty bleak, and this is the dark mirror being held up to these troubled times.
As an anthology series reminiscent of The Twilight Zone, each episode of Black Mirror is a stand-alone short story, with different actors in each show. This means we get treated to an abundance of talented actors and actresses, from great British stars like Rory Kinnear, Domnhall Gleeson, Jodie Whittaker, Hayley Atwell, Rupert Everett, and Michael Smiley, alongside the likes of Jon Hamm and Bryce Dallas Howard.
It’s set in a near-future with technology more advanced than we have now. Never more advanced than you could imagine though, as everything is completely within the realm of possibility. Heck, some of it already exists. Everything that’s supposed to make our lives easier, better, and help us stay together. Needless to say, that’s almost never how it works out, and this series will show us why.
While there’s always a message in each episode about the way things are going and how badly we’re screwing everything up, rarely does the show give us a solution to these issues. It’s more about showing us what we already are, and where we’re headed. The rest is up to us.
Finely crafted to get under your skin, each episode will either leave you feeling terrified, or completely crushed, by combining an effective mix of genuine scariness and utter heart-break. The scary episodes aren’t about horror-tropes and jump-scares, but genuine psychological dread. It’s all very uncanny valley, and hits very close to home. And the heart-break? Well, I’ve cried more than once thanks to some of their more bitter-sweet (or just bitter) episodes about the mistakes we make that doom us.
“But, Tracy,” as I’m sure you’re thinking, “you’re not selling this show very well. Why should I watch it if I’m just going to get depressed?” Honestly, it’s hard to put the feeling into words. It’s not all doom and gloom, one particular episode in Season 3 made me cry actual happy tears. But this is a darkly satirical show, full of schadenfreude and nihilism. It’s grim and fatalistic and makes me more than a little uncomfortable. But that’s what makes it so good. It’s entertaining, sure, but good entertainment doesn’t have to come with a happy ending. It can also stick a knife in your heart, and leave you feeling grateful that a world like that doesn’t exist. Not yet, at least.
Sometimes terrifying, sometimes heart-breaking and almost always deeply disturbing, Black Mirror is the kind of show that makes you think. A lot. And need a hug afterwards.
Last Updated: October 25, 2016