By Siam Shahkhan
At the end of every episode of Black Mirror, I am confronted with my own reflection staring back at me with wide eyes from my own black mirror, my laptop screen. I am in awe and terror at what I have just seen. It takes me a day to process an episode and feel normal again. I have found this feeling to be common to all fans of Black Mirror making it the most relevant show currently on Netflix.
Created by Charlie Brooker and picked up by Netflix for its 3rd season, Black Mirror is an anthology series focusing on technology and the future. It often satirizes both. The episodes usually have elements of horror sprinkled in, which makes them reminiscent of the original Rod Serling Twilight Zone series. Adding to the familiarity is that every episode ends with a shocking revelatory twist, one that often adds to the cruel fate of its protagonist.
Black Mirror deals with how technology has taken over our lives and how we as humans, being imperfect, have used that technology to make ourselves and other people miserable. It argues that technology and science in themselves are not bad, but that we make our own prisons using them.
The first episode of season 3 is about a young woman who is part of a future where financial and social status are linked to a social media score. This is based on how many stars people give you, the lowest being one star and the highest being five. The episode follows the woman’s plight in gaining a high enough social score to purchase a house in a posh community. It is a clever satire on how people in the modern world size up and judge people based on their social media presence.
“As horrifying as our future is presented in Black Mirror, it is always a pleasure to be taken through each episode’s rollercoaster of emotions.”
The second and third episode are a lot darker following their protagonists torment by unseen forces through technology. Virtual reality is involved in the second episode, whereas the third episode deals with surveillance and hackers. Both are modern cautionary tales about the power of technology, which allows people to live out their worst fears and to deal vigilante justice on other people.
‘San Junipero’, the most hopeful episode of Black Mirror to date brought tears to my eyes with its tender story of two lovers who try to find each other in a virtual reality afterlife. Black Mirror finally ends its sadistic streak on a relatively happy ending.
In the episode “Men against fire”, a soldier is tasked with killing “roaches”, creatures who are subhuman; he quickly learns that all is not what it seems when the “roaches” are revealed to be something else.
Finally, the sixth episode is Black Mirror’s version of a police procedural. A detective pursues a serial killer and terrorist who threaten to unleash modified killer bees which could potentially decimate a massive portion of the population.
Watching Black mirror is an enlightening and often depressing experience. Being confronted with a grim satirical future is an eye-opener as it brings to light many modern issues our world is facing such as xenophobia and mental disorders. As horrifying as our future is presented in Black Mirror, it is always a pleasure to be taken through each episode’s rollercoaster of emotions.