This holiday month, my true love Netflix gave me the gift of the British anthology series Black Mirror, which is without a doubt an example of the most subversive and smart story-telling I have come across on television. It’s like a futuristic version of The Twilight Zone for the digital age. Each story carefully teeters just outside the realm of possibility in regards to technology, but no matter how advanced and futuristic gadgets may appear, the narratives are grounded in real human emotions that allow us to empathize and feel unsettled about our own anxieties.
Charlie Brooker, the show’s creator, wrote for The Guardian, “If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror is set.” He exaggerates current inventions to a point where they are horrific, yet still seductive: What if you could “block” a person in real life? Or DVR your encounters and replay them later, having a visual record of every move? Or what if you could rebuild a dead person based on code made up from their social media output? What are the consequences of living lives through these black mirrored screens?
Without giving away any spoilers to the short series, I’d recommend starting with episode 1 to get hooked. (Chronology isn’t crucial since each episode is an entirely new setting with different characters.) Through its mind-bending twists and acerbic wit, Black Mirror critiques the dark future we could be in for, or as Brooker puts it, “The way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes time if we’re clumsy.”
Who’s watched it? What else should I watch?