(Season 1-3 of Black Mirror is currently streaming on Netflix with a 4th season currently in development)
(This review will be spoiler-free)
Black Mirror is a really good show. No, correction, Black Mirror is a truly fantastic show. I am currently using my iPhone to write this review and feel something really weird. There’s an almost sense of paranoia I have anytime I use my phone or my laptop or technology in general. This show really struck a nerve in me. It chilled me to the core in each of its 13 episodes, save for one (more on that particular episode later). Black Mirror is presented in a very unique format in that it is an anthology series. So basically instead of a serial storyline where you can binge 2 or 3 episodes and further the plot, these are all standalone stories with a new cast and new director for each one. You’ve got the likes of Dan Tractenberg (10 Cloverfield Lane), Joe Wright (Atonement), James Watkins (The Woman in Black) and stars like Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), freaking Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and so many others. I honestly love anthologies. VHS and VHS 2 are some of my favorite films. The Twilight Zone is also pretty cool too I guess (also on Netflix). So I was excited to learn that Black Mirror was presented in this format and once I finished the first episode, The National Anthem, I was completely on board.
Black Mirror tells 13 unique and technology driven stories that act as a cautionary tale for us as a society. Some take place in a world similar to ours, others take place in a world that doesn’t seem all that distant. That’s the thing that really sucked me in with this show. When I got to a segment where maybe it started to get super dystopian, it was still really relatable because Charlie Brooker, the showrunner and writer of every single episode, uses various ideas that are already present in our world today. From our Instagram fueled culture where likes and ratings are the main goal in society to hacked computer cameras being used to blackmail, each if this show’s 13 episodes each tackle a theme that I honestly could put myself in the situation each camera was dealing with and feel as though I’m that person. Technology is a huge part of my life. Go ask anyone and they’ll say they at least spend a majority of their day using their phone for some task that either is productive or unproductive. Hell, I’m writing on my phone right now. We, as a society are not escaping technology. With each technological advancement, the scarier that technology starts to seem and this show takes those potential fears and turns them up to 1000%.
(Toby Kebbel in Season 1, episode 3 “The Entire History of You”)
Obviously with any TV series, there are gonna be episodes that are better then others and some that maybe are subpar to the one before it. One of those statements holds true here. There are obviously standouts here but I never found myself saying at the end of an episode, “wow that was kind of a boring episode” or “that was kind of a mediocre episode”. Each episode is both interesting and really well madethat I never found myself not invested in what was happening on screen. I know Kyle has watched a few episodes of Black Mirror in a non specific order and you don’t need to watch them from season 1 to season 3 in order. I chose however to do this and I would recommend that anyone do this who has yet to start the show. That way once you get to my personal favorite of the series, you’ll get the most impact of it. That episode is Season 3’s 4th episode, San Junipero. After 10 episodes preceding it that are all bleak in both their themes and their endings, it was so nice to have a change of pace and see something positive with technology. Whenever I try and think of a way to describe this episode, my best way to do that is to think of it like Moonlight in the way it tackles its themes but with a technological twist added to it. The episode is truly a masterpiece of television. A few other standouts are the episode preceding San Junipero, Shut Up and Dance, which to juxtapose that episode is one of the darkest and most disturbing hours of television I’ve ever seen and truly made me feel dirty and sick to my stomach after I was done that I needed a shower. Also standing out is episode 3 of Season 1, The Entire History of You, which had such a unique and cool concept that I couldn’t help but see myself getting that technology even if the episode proved truly tragic. Of course you all know how I feel about Dan Tractenberg’s episode, Playtest (you can read that here).
Now I could go on and on on why each episode is well made and interesting but each segment has it’s own charm and I honestly at least enjoyed every single one, loving most, really liking the others. There is never dullness in this show and that is the best praise I can hand this show. As we as a society continue to tinker and toy with our already advanced technology, looking to find that next breakthrough hoping to make our lives even easier with the help of our tech, I think to myself, Black Mirror is truly the cries that maybe even if we can use technology for a certain goal we hope to attain, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should. This the hardest part of the review as I need to try and grade the season as a whole. Each episode is truly a work of art and maybe not all of them are masterpieces but I think they’re close enough to warrant a view of this series as in the pile of really good episodes, there’s a few truly fantastic works here. If you’re a fan of The Twilight Zone, Ex Machina, The X Files or just Sci-Fi in general, go check out this show, you’re not gonna regret it.