Title: Black Mirror
Air Date: October 21, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction, Satire
I’d like to start off by apologizing for taking so long to finish watching the third season of Black Mirror and thus taking even longer to write this review. I pride myself on being an avid Netflix binge watcher, devoting days on end to finishing my favorite originals. I went into Season 3 of Black Mirror with the same mindset, even though I was well aware of what I was getting myself into after already experiencing two seasons of emotion distress at the hands of Black Mirror.
The beginning of each episode always starts with the same measure of excitement, wondering what Charlie Brooker has in store for me this time. Adding on an addition three episodes(from three to six), this season follows the same structure as the previous two, containing similar types of characters, themes, and technology while having a distinct plot line for each individual episode. Regardless provided information – as multiple episodes throw viewers into the unknown (but similar) world as it slowly reveals its rules – each chapter is masterfully paced, a mechanic that is vital to the thrilling aspects of specific plots.
While the pacing of the show is its legs, Brooker’s writing continues to be Black Mirror’s backbone. The plots, characters and world’s – though many would argue world singular – are all unique and creative enough to stand out while simultaneously being grounded and relatable. The genuineness of the characters, and the terrific acting by those playing them makes the fictional stories seem all too real. Which in reality is Black Mirror’s biggest selling point, and also makes it so hard to watch more than one episode without taking a break.
The situations that take places in Brooker’s fantasy world, while exaggerated, seem so feasible at times that the bleak endings for each episode seem like possible outcomes for our own society. Many episode feature antagonists that the characters we are following must try to overcome, whether in the form of a person, technology or even an idea. When the antagonist(s) of each episode is revealed, the end result it’s never as cut and dry as it seems. The morally gray characters of Black Mirror are never an evil genius or a secret government organization, it’s just us as a society. A recurring subject matter is our society’s tendency to jump to a mob justice mentality on topics that, while are indeed vile, the ones calling for justice don’t have all the facts for and do so behind the anonymity of the internet. A vast majority of the time, Brooker manages to make me feel pity for characters that I would have never felt pity for if I had a preconceived notion about them.
The exaggeration of the issues does tend to take away from the relatability conveyed throughout, like our economy revolving around a star rating system, but is a necessary element to get the themes point across. Those bleak exaggerations are all the more reason to cling to the strands of hope and happiness that the show tends to divvy out, with a couple episodes ending with silver linings and even one with a couple living happily ever after (even though I beg to differ).
The realities built in Black Mirror are just as interesting as the characters and stories that live in them. Brooker continues to create interesting technology in these worlds that relate to our current society and the technology from prior – be they in the past or future tense – episodes, making me want eye technology for . The small touches to the cinematography aspects of the technology – like the Stepford wives esque coloration of the town in nose dive – shown draw out additional layers emotional resonance.
While Black Mirror is defined as a sci-fi and satire show in the genre section of television, each episode has it’s own mini-genre relevant to it’s theme. This season took us on a roller coaster ride of different episodes bouncing from horror, romance, political, thriller, mystery, espionage, ect., while all conveying the constant themes of satire and technology. Black Mirror manages to turn a lot of cliches and tropes involved in these genres on their heads, a really refreshing element in modern entertainment and something that always keeps us guessing.
Black Mirror is one of the most unique and refreshing bits of entertainment I have experienced this decade. With episodes that can be watched in any order, each having the perfect amount of run time to enthrall, shock and awe, then make you say enough Netflix for the day while you rock back and forth in the fetal position. I look forward to the next installment and hope to see more from the brilliant, sadistic mind of Charlie Brooker in the future.
- Perfect Pacing
- Likable and Relatable Characters
- Profound Worldbuilding
- Excellent Storytelling
- Bleak Nature May Be Too Much For Some