Black Mirror, a Netflix original British-based television show created by Charlie Brooker, explores the morbidities and excellences of modern technology.
The show’s satirical elements target the irrational fears surrounding 21st century technology–those of which include hacking, social medias, and virtual reality video games.However what makes this show so disturbing and so interesting is not the actions in which the characters take within the episodes, but rather the capability of ourselves to do the same.
The narrative between episodes has no correlation except for the message behind it; each episode has a new cast, a new story, a new setting. Some of the individual realities look much like our own, yet others have the intimidating aloofness of technology we have not created or have yet to create. This familiarity allows us to relate to the show while also giving us the distance between what we know and what is to be understood later. Because of this, we are left with a hint of fear. Since some of the technology in the show has not been created yet, it poses questions about what our future looks like beyond the black mirror.
The personal level at which this series relates to is seen most evidently in “Be Right Back”, a heartbreaking episode from season two. After losing her husband (Domhnall Gleeson, Ex Machina), a grieving wife (Hayley Atwell, Agent Carter) contacts an agency that will speak to her as her husband. Though not everyone has lost a loved one, the grief that shapes this episode invokes sadness in a way that makes us feel as if perhaps we would follow in her footsteps too.
As sadness take a large part in “Be Right Back”, perfection is of importance in “Nosedive”; the satirical season three premiere comments on the prevalence of social media in the form of a narcotic pastel world where one’s rating determines how one lives in society. A woman (played by Bryce Dallas Howard, The Help) becomes obsessed with raising her personal rating after learning this rating does not qualify her for a discount on a house she is interested in buying. The fame and the fortune one gathers because of social media these days–think the Kardashians and Jenners–is significant enough to be considered a rating. The higher following one has, the more important one is.
However, though relevant in it’s message, Black Mirror has its downfalls. Episodes of earlier seasons often need more time to explain and elaborate on the subject so we feel more deeply; others are too drawn out, milked for every disturbing detail in its existence until it becomes a bland and monotonous mass. Season three, however, picks up the messes of its previous seasons for a well-acted, clean-cut, pertinent third installment.
The title, of course is a reference to the opaque glass on our beloved phones, computers, and televisions. Black Mirror’s title sequence lacks a theme song, character recognition, or a segment explaining what you missed; it is just the two words digitally emitted onto a black screen that, after a moment of electronic murmuring, cracks, distorting the words. As technology becomes increasingly relevant in our modern world, Black Mirror asks what the effects of our new love will be. The heightening pitch of the whirring leading up to the crack of the black mirror is an echo of the unnerving endings of the episodes and–perhaps in the future–of our technified world.
This unsettling message will make some fear the machine–but this show is not a take on what would happen if man went to war with technology. It is what would happen if man was given the power to use this technology as he pleased. Though technology is often associated with the danger it poses to the human race, Black Mirror proposes that perhaps the devices with which we are so cautious are not the only threat.