Every now and then you watch a TV series that leaves you dumbfounded. The ones that are so good that you can’t believe a show like that exists, or that it took you this long to discover it. I’ve had my fair share of moments like this with Skins (the British version), Community, Parks and Recreation, and Sherlock. I recently had another moment, this time with Black Mirror. And the most unbelievable part? It took me five years before I watched its first season.
Black Mirror is a British speculative fiction series that tackles the dangers of modern society and technology. It’s an anthology that features a different story, setting, and cast per episode, so watching a season is like watching a collection of short, really good films.
The first season only has three episodes, and are so surreal that it reminds me of The Twilight Zone. The series is definitely something Rod Serling would make if he were alive today.
Because each episode is its own self-contained story, I will review each episode of season one:
The National Anthem
Prime minister Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear) wakes up to find that Princess Susannah (Lydia Wilson), the popular Duchess of Beaumont, is kidnapped. The mysterious kidnapper demands that Callow has sex with a pig on live television, or else the princess dies. Faced with an approaching deadline and mounting pressure from news networks, social media, and even the Royal Family, the prime minister must find the kidnapper before Princess Susannah is killed.
This is the craziest episode of the season. Black Mirror‘s “The National Anthem” satirizes social media and how it can shape public opinion, and how the world is so obsessed with sensational news that we fail to see what’s happening in the real world. It’s so ludicrous that I had to stop the episode many times just to reel in my emotions.
Fifteen Million Merits
Black Mirror‘s “Fifteen Million Merits” creates a new world where its citizens must cycle continuously to power their world and earn merits, which they can use to purchase food, buy accessories for their avatars, and even join Hot Shot, an in-world talent competition. Bing Madsen (Daniel Kaluuya) develops a crush on Abi Khan (Jessica Brown Findlay), and he encourages her to join Hot Shot after hearing her sing. Soon, they realize that the show isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be and is used to exploit contestants.
The first thing you notice in this episode is the stunning visuals. Black Mirror created a sleek and minimalist world ruled by flat-screen television sets. In fact, the citizens sleep in small boxes covered by screens, which can be manipulated to simulate reality (or show pornography). “Fifteen Million Merits” is a searing attack on reality shows and how it abuses those involved. The scariest part? Some people are fine by it.
The Entire History of You
“The Entire History of You” looks innocent enough. We are introduced to Liam Foxwell (Toby Kebbell), a lawyer who is undergoing his appraisal. Right after, we learn that people have “grains” implanted behind their ears, which they can use to replay memories or “re-do.” At a party, he meets his wife Ffion’s (Jodie Whittaker) friends, including the dashing Jonas (Tom Cullen). Liam suspects Ffion and Jonas are having an affair, using re-dos to prove how intimate the two were during the party.
This Black Mirror episode is my favorite this season. Jealousy can often destroy relationships even if both parties have different sides to the story, but imagine how it can completely obliterate couples when faced with something as irrefutable as a re-do, which anyone can watch. Yes, being able to vividly recall memories with a push of a button has its perks, but cold, hard evidence has its pitfalls, too. You may win the argument, but you won’t like the feeling.
All of Black Mirror’s episodes are available for streaming at Netflix. Enjoy Netflix on Globe Broadband by subscribing to Plan 1299, which will give you six months free access to award-winning Netflix originals, high-definition quality TV shows and movies, and your favorite flicks on your TV, computer at speeds of up to 10 mbps. Find out more here.