Review: ‘Black Mirror’ and the issues we didn’t know we had

Do you ever wonder what the world will be like in five years? Or in 10? Do you wonder what technology will look like, or how it will change our society? The British series “Black Mirror” explores these questions and many more.

“Black Mirror” started airing in 2011. After a couple years of success, Netflix contracted 12 episodes of the show in 2015. However, the British drama’s popularity has picked up speed in recent months.

Lately, British shows have unexpectedly been at the forefront of American viewership. From “Peaky Blinders” (which is AMAZING by the way) to “The Night Of,” England’s awesome television has been taking over Netflix as well as American air waves.

It is no surprise that “Black Mirror” has become a part of this trend. What is most fascinating about this series is its ability to critique everything we take for granted. Looking at social media, spending time with family, condemning criminals — this show finds issues with things we didn’t even know we had issues with.

“Black Mirror” does a stupendous job at creating a world that we can believe and live in. This is not the next sci-fi world, it is our world and society — with the addition of one advancement that changes some or every aspect of life. An example of this would be in the third season episode “Nosedive”. In this episode, everyone is able to see others’ social media popularity as soon as they look at them, essentially having Facebook in their eyes. In this society, popularity determines every aspect of life and if someone is unpopular, they eventually go to jail. The technology is not necessarily bad, it’s how it is used that will determine the outcome.

The overarching theme in “Black Mirror” is that with a lack of empathy and compassion, society will not be in a good place. To depict this, “Black Mirror” will often introduce a mechanism or technological advancement that is not inherently bad. It shows that how we use it is what can change society for the worse. Just like Facebook and Twitter can keep people connected, they can also distance you from those nearest.

This Peabody Award-winner makes you question what you’re doing in life, it makes you mad, it makes you wonder, and it starts some pretty insightful conversations. What is so lovely about “Black Mirror” is that it makes you go down a line of thinking you never thought you would explore. It might sound like school work, but it’s actually pretty awesome.

Fifteen Million Merits in season one is one of my favorites. The episode takes place in a society where no one is allowed to go outside. Instead, you use a stationary bike in a dreary inside world to rack up merits. If you earn enough merits, you can buy a ticket to an American Idol like competition to potentially make it out of the dull world of biking. However, not many people do this because they are so plagued with other things to distract them and spend their money on, almost no one gets out.

In season two, White Bear, follows a young woman who has amnesia as she tries to find answers about who she is and what happened. She finds a creepy world where everyone is following and filming her rather than interacting or helping her. Later in the episode, we find out this is punishment for a crime she committed. The whole town is in on it and the people in charge wipe her memory every day and repeat the same torture again indefinitely.

This definitely isn’t the show to watch when you’re trying to sleep or are distracted, but it will surely grab your attention and keep it long past the 60-minute run time. As a show, “Black Mirror” gets an A.

Pros:

  • Makes you think about how technology is used
  • Very believable episodes.
  • New cast and plot each episode.
  • Great acting and direction.

Cons:

  • Can sometimes lag or be confusing.
  • To understand what’s going on you have to watch carefully.

4/5 stars

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