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Black Mirror (seasons 01 & 02)

Josh Steps Into the Black Mirror

So a few weeks ago, within a few days of one another, I suddenly heard from several friends who each told me that I must, underline must, watch this new show called Black Mirror.  I was struck by this confluence of recommendations, so I felt it was my duty to track down the show’s six episodes that are now streaming on Netflix.  (A seventh installment, a Christmas Special, is as of now only available on Direct TV.)  Holy cow.  My jaw is still on the floor.

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Black Mirror is a British anthology show in the vein of The Twilight Zone.  The first series of three episodes were broadcast in the U.K. back in 2011, and the second series of three episodes appeared in 2013.  The show began streaming here in the States on Netflix last month.

Each episode of Black Mirror stands alone.  There is no continuity between episodes, and each episode features an entirely different setting and cast.  Each episode presents a scary picture of a world that has been changed in some way by technology.  Not for the better.  The Black Mirror of the show’s title makes me think of stepping through the looking glass into a world not like our own but terrifyingly possible.  Series creator Charlie Brooker has also described the Black Mirror as that on all the screens that increasingly surround our lives: our computers, our ipads, our phones, etc.

Each episode of the show is a unique, gorgeous, terrifying mini-movie.  Of the six episodes, I truly don’t think there is a weak link.  Each episode is a parable for the dangerous ways in which technology that might at first seem beneficial can have the power to have a significant negative effect on our lives and our society.  Some episodes take place in a world that is almost identical to our own.  (The very first episode, “The National Anthem,” feels like the closest to our own.  There is no notable technological difference to this society — it’s our world, we just see someone use the technology that we have in a horrifying new way.)   Some episodes take place in a world similar to our own but where a certain technological advance has changed society, which is then explored in that episode.  One episode, “Fifteen Million Merits,” takes place in a more futuristic setting.  Each episode presents a fully-realized world, one in which a very specific idea is being explored in the story.

That first episode, “The National Anthem,” absolutely blew my mind.  It was quite horrifying to watch.  Not because we saw anything gruesome on screen, but because of the screw-tightening intensity of the story.  As the episode unfolds, you witness an insane but … [continued]