Black Mirror

T: This show, more than any, is what the world needs right now. The title alone suggest the darkness that lies lurking in the milieu of our own society – tapped into our various screens and devices.

RV discovered this show from NPR and demanded that we begin watching this series on an ordinary Saturday night. I had no idea what I was in for. And truth be told, even if I explained in full detail each uniquely designed episode, I still could not truly prepare you for what there is to see. Watching this show is paradoxically both a universal exchange as well as an individual exhale. You will cringe at how eerily prescient the stories feel while also become increasingly paranoid at what is to become.

Viewing this show came at the perfect time for me – while both teaching Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to my high school juniors and devouring Westworld. In the backdrop of my own 2016 autumn, these things become my own mirror to which I gazed out into the world – absorbing me into a kind of existential crisis that demands answers to questions that no one can – let alone wants – to answer.

Structurally, the show is unique in the sense that each episode is an entity on its own. With that said, there are playfully constructed Easter eggs left scattered throughout the series that only the savviest viewers may notice or pick up on. You could watch one and be done (though arguably this is impossible and dumb) and not feel as if there are questions left unanswered or stories helplessly hanging in the midst. The first season feels very British where the next two seasons, especially season three, seems to have more of an Americanized influence – far more inflated and dramatic. But this isn’t to say that the last two seasons are any less satisfying – on the contrary – every episode presented itself its own enjoyable experience.

I really do love each episode. I could list them in order of their quality and memorability, but the truth is I don’t want to because each present their own important lesson. I can say there were certainly those that left me terrified in their wake (‘Hated in the Nation’); riddled with anxiety (‘Shut Up and Dance’); and utterly sad for our future (‘The Waldo Moment’). ‘Nosedive’ had me constantly preaching to my students about the dangers of ascribing status and importance via social media. ‘Be Right Back’ (my favorite episode of the series) forced me to evaluate just how fake our profiles (and lives?) are on Facebook and Twitter. ‘The Entire History of You’ demanded a very real understanding of just what do we want to know about those in our lives and what should we know and what do we do with both of those understandings?

Unlike anything else I have ever watched or encouraged to watch, please – for your own health – do not binge Black Mirror.

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Furthermore, I’d interlace your viewing of this series with some seriously funny comedy (I’d suggest Community) to avoid seeping into the dark depressive state that Black Mirror argues will be all our future – if we’re not careful or wise enough to see.

RV:  Rod Serling would surely be a fan of Black Mirror. This show might be the closest thing to modern Twilight Zone that we are ever going to get. Every episode is a trip to the painfully real future where mankind is always its own worst enemy. Every year, I show my classes the Twilight Zone episode “Monsters are Due on Maple Street” to show how science fiction can satirize the current problems of society. In that episode, Serling is giving a very harsh criticism of the fear-based policy making that was at the heart of the McCarthy era witch hunts. At the end of the episode, Serling even says:

“The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices—to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. A thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own for the children . . . and the children yet unborn, (a pause) and the pity of it is . . . that these things cannot be confined to . . . The Twilight Zone.”

Black Mirror takes this kind of social commentary to the next (albeit very freaking dark) level. This isn’t just a scifi show or a horror show. It really is a mirror, reflecting the absolutely shittiest parts of our world that largely go undetected and then showing us snippets of our very doomed world because of these flaws. Now, some people might brush shows like Black Mirror off as too over-the-top; however, that is where Black Mirror is so much better than its post-apocalyptic predecessors. Every episode feels so real. Black Mirror‘s futures are not long shots. They all feel like they could easily happen tomorrow, which makes watching this show all the more horrifying.

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Also watch the Community episode “App Development and Condiments”. It’s the closest thing to Black Mirror in comedy.

5 Twizzlers: Mirror, Mirror on the wall – what generation is doomed to fall?

4.5 Red Vines: This show is streets ahead (If you have to ask, then your streets behind).

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