The Magic Behind Black Mirror- What Makes the Show So Enticing
April 30, 2018
Charlie Booker’s Black Mirror– named after the black screen that appears when your device turns off- has become a worldwide phenomenon since its 2011 Netflix release date. Black Mirror features episodes with individual storylines- each where we meet characters who navigate their way through a technology-based utopia and its effects on their human relationships. With season 4 coming out just last December and the 5th season underway, what exactly has caused so many to get sucked into the world of Black Mirror?
1. A glimpse into a technology based future
From online dating to artificial intelligence robots to virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, the future of technology is all around us. While inventions like self-driving cars, bringing loved ones back from the dead, and merit systems have not yet been created, these seemingly far-fetched ideas may not be so far away. Season 2’s “Be Right Back” and season 4’s “Black Museum” use a similar technology to connect people with their recently deceased loved ones. In 2010, Hanson Robotics created a robot to mirror the wife of its owner through utilizing her feelings and memories in interactions with others. In the season 4 episode “Crocodile,” a man gets run over by a self-driving pizza truck. In January 2018, Pizza Hut announced they would be creating auto-driving pizza trucks, set to be on the roads by 2020.
2. Human morality vs. technology
Despite the show’s technology charged title and episodes, at the core of Black Mirror is the characters themselves. Black Mirror appears to take place in a universe much different from our own, but the reality is that these characters deal with problems like loneliness and greed- ones that aren’t much different from our own Just like us, characters question their morality and what exactly is right and wrong, and just happen to take technology along for the ride. While technology may seem to be set up as the antagonist, creator Charlie Brooker makes it clear that technology is only the enabler for the characters to do evil. It causes them, and the viewers themselves, to examine themselves and their morality. Characters decide for themselves if they want to use the technology to carry out what they believe is right. Some of the most popular episodes are ones that are extremely character driven ones where we get to know the characters in depth and understand their reasonings for their actions. In the season 3 opener “Nosedive,” we meet Lacie, a hardworking and driven businesswoman who seeks social acceptance and the coveted 4.8 stars in a rating system where friends and family rate you after every interaction. Lacie must acquire this rating to be able to attend the wedding of a friend who has a 4.8 star rating. In order to accomplish this, she must walk over those with below 2.0 lower ratings. We get time to root for her, see her lose everything she’s worked for, and finally, be destroyed by her own motives. Black Mirror causes us to examine our own relationships with technology and see, perhaps, the most frightening part of the show- the reality that we all are the true antagonists in a world that revolves around technology.
3. Twists, happy endings, and a good love story
Following in the footsteps of similar sci-i shows before it, Black Mirror is known for its Twilight Zone-esque twist endings. Black Mirror successfully creates twists that aren’t too obvious or cliché. In episodes like “USS Callister” and “Black Museum,” we see characters get what they deserve by being trapped in a universe that they have built up themselves. Because there are so few happy endings in Black Mirror, it is the happy endings such as season 4’s “Hang the DJ” and season 3’s “San Junipero” that capture our attention. In episodes like these, we see a couple overcome obstacles of technology, which in turn strengthen their love. Both are testaments of true love as in the different universes they encounter throughout the episode; their relationship is the only constant.
Black Mirror seems to have created a successful concoction of all the right elements to a perfect sci-fi television show- a futuristic utopia with outlandish technology, an accurate portrayal of human nature, and surprise endings- proving that this show is soon to become an instant sci-fi classic.