These past days, I’ve been writing two similar pieces titled After This Night and After Last Night. If you’ve been following Black Mirror series, you might notice I’ve been inspired by one of the episodes titled San Junipero. While I understand how well written it is and why the episode got an Emmy, it’s not one of my favorite episodes. I’ve finished the entire season of Black Mirror at the end of last year. So, I thought I will write something out of it. I’m not going to write any detailed review nor any spoiler. So feel safe to read it even if you haven’t seen it.
San Junipero (Season 3, 2016)
Black Mirror is a science-fiction anthology series created by Charlie Brooker, tackling the issues of technology within the modern society. Reflecting its name, Black Mirror often use satirical and dark tones, portraying the consequences of vast technology. Though its popularity skyrocketed after the series bought by Netflix, I still like the earlier seasons better. The first season of Black Mirror, I think, is the strongest season yet. Making no room for a useless episode, tapping the right issues to its core.
“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, my new drama series, is set. The ‘black mirror’ of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.”
The Simpsons Season 11, Episode 17: Bart to the Future (2000)
When talking about satirical jokes and black comedy of the future, you cannot exclude The Simpsons and how well it predicts the future. The cartoon show numerously outraces us and shows how funny or how bleak (depends on which sides you’re on) the world we’re living now. The advantage of a cartoon show is that you can differ from any human aspect, make something really chaotic and called it a day by defining it as cartoon-ish. (Read also my take on The Simpsons almost 9 years ago here.)
USS Callister (Season 4, 2017)
The problem with the 3rd and 4th season of Black Mirror, which has more episodes per season with a higher budget, is it lacks its humanist side. Sometimes, I don’t really feel any human moment in it. The episodes become monotone and I recognized the pattern already. With the exception of San Junipero and (maybe) Hang The DJ, all the episodes similarly follow the technology-gone-bad formula. I know that there will always be the dark side and the side effect of technology, but we live in it. We need to face the consequences that we can talk to a machine and ask how the weather would be.
Sometimes, it also reflects our view of society in this so-called digital age nowadays. I think it is a degradation to say that we should worry about the younger generation, just because some of them took selfies every day or exposed to the internet almost 24/7. Because aside from all that, these kids are learning how to make apps at the age of 8 and giving a lot of tools to make the impossible happens at their fingertips. The truth is, I envy them. I wish I have the same resources and access to the outside world in my early age.
My favorite episodes of Black Mirror are the most obvious ones. I like the episodes which shown the confusions and recorded the human side of the technology, like:
The Entire History of You (Season 1, 2011)
- The National Anthem (Season 1, Episode 1). Like the core message of the episode, The National Anthem stands out as a statement. Black Mirror isn’t for everyone and this episode serves it right in front of your face. I think the last scene of the episode is one of the strongest statement in the entire series. There will always be things we need to sacrifice during the adjustment of the new era.
- The Entire History of You (Season 1, Episode 3). Too real, I can’t.
- Be Right Back (Season 2, Episode 1). Although it doesn’t have an explosive plot line, Be Right Back episode feels a lot like… human. The confusion and the need for advanced technology scared you, yet you started to familiarize yourself and need it on a daily basis.
I also love the episodes which completely gone off track, like:
- Shut Up and Dance (Season 3, Episode 3). Shit happens to poor Kenny.
- Hang the DJ (Season 4, Episode 4). Love is all about that 99.8% wins.
- Black Museum (Season 4, Episode 6). I love the simplicity of Black Museum, as the series creator started to have fun with the series itself. Giving the Reddit users a chance to get into the conversations while filling in some threads.
The list above is totally my preference, I know the most famous episodes aren’t on the list anyway. So here are the episodes that I think, generally save to watch, have the relatable issues nowadays, and able to pull you into Black Mirror series:
Nosedive (Season 3, 2016)
- Nosedive (Season 3, Episode 1). It’s now real: https://rateme.social/
- San Junipero (Season 3, Episode 4)
- Arkangel (Season 4, Episode 2)
- Fifteen Million Merits (Season 1, Episode 2)
So in the end, do the digital era changes you as much? Do it give you more opportunities or caused you more harm? Maybe from above paragraphs, you can conclude I’m on the bright side of technology. I’m more thankful for the digital era than corrupted by it. It’s a cliche to say that it’s all in the hand of its beholder. It can make you and break you at the same time, we just need to get a control of ourselves. But, how exactly we understand how to control it?
Black Mirror tells our stories really well, it feels real and can happen to anyone in real life. I’m blessed that I have all these thoughts and already understand how to balance it all (most of the time). But would something harm happens to someone I know? Would it take a toll on me too someday? Because from what I see, we’re that close to the future and so far away from the truth.