Confessions of a TV Addict: 'Black Mirror' Will Make You Quit Social Media

The parts of my weekend that weren't spent being infuriated by the casting of Jennifer Lawrence as Zelda Fitzgerald in an upcoming biopic were spent swiftly consuming the latest season of Black Mirror because, apparently, I am a masochist who enjoys being mentally ripped apart by a TV show. The show, which has been heralded as something of a Twilight Zone for people of the social media and technoloigcal era, originally aired its first two seasons and Christmas special on Channel 4 in the UK.

For those still totally unfamiliar, it can best be summarized in a quote from the show's creator, Charlie Brooker"each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they're all about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes' time if we're clumsy." 

Do not let the idea that this show is sci-fi scare you. I recently described it to a friend as "sci-fi light," and I think that is great nomenclature (go me!), so we are sticking with it. Personally, I am normally adverse to "science fiction" of any kind. For example, the latest Star Wars movie did absolutely nothing for me, except reaffirm my belief that Oscar Isaac has the best face and hair of any human. I used to sort of roll my eyes at the genre completely, but seeing as Ex Machina and The Lobster were my two favourite movies of the past couple years, I would make the argument that weird, dystopian science fiction is something I am okay with. It is the "let's spend a billion dollars to see Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt make out on a space craft with some explosions in the background" that I refuse to buy into. (Sidenote: I am also refusing to buy into Chris Pratt as a sex-symbol of any kind. Further to the side sidenote: this movie looks absolutely absurd.)

Netflix was über interested in picking the show up after seeing its mass success, criticially and otherwise, so they commissioned 12 episodes (two seasons of six episodes each because the British model for television is far superior and they seem to be catching on to that). 

The third season dropped last Friday, and oh boy, is it something. I honestly did not think it could get any better than the "White Christmas" special, mainly becuase it had Jon Hamm in it, and as the person whose phone and computer background are photos of him from a Mr. Porter shoot, I am sort of on-board with any and all things he does. (Click on the hyperlink and you've got to admit that those are some hella stylish and handsome pictures.)

As much as I love getting derailed into prattling on about my somewhat troubling obsession with 40-something year old actors, let us get back to business, but wait! Another sidebar! Heading into this article, I wasn't sure if I was going to recap each episode (which would take me an eternity, but was willing to do for the good of my two readers, my mom and best friend. Hey, guys!) or simply harass/entice you coyly with details to force you into watching it.

I decided on the latter, because the folks at Vulture or the AV Club can do a way better job of summing up the insanity than I can. I will keep this article vague, rambling, adjective-heavy, and spoiler-free (which is also the tagline for my personal brand, à la "Easy, Breezy, Beautiful, CoverGirl"). 

So, the season consists of six hour-long episodes that you can finish in no time if you can handle the bleakness of it all. When I say bleak, I am talking me loudly proclaiming "I cannot go on like this" to the dense, taupe-coloured walls of my empty apartment as I forcefully paused it so I could go get my cinnamon-flavoured Eggo waffle from my toaster. You could continue to live your life blissful and ignorant and binge some silly little show that I would probably mock you for subjecting youself to. However, as dark as it is, I find Black Mirror to be required viewing for all human beings with a smartphone. 

Beyond being beautifully produced, with each episode having as different, distinctive, and well-thought-out a colour palette as a Wes Anderson film, and generally being cinematically A+, the writing this season really impressed me. This could be due to the fact that my favourite episode, "Nosedive," was penned by Parks & Rec co-creator Mike Schur and beautiful tropical fish, Rashida Jones. 

Further, the acting is amazing, because it has a great mix of actors, including McGill grad Mackenzie Davis! I am assuming the sweeping addition of tons of American actors like Bryce Dallas Howard, Cherry Jones, Michael Kelly, etc. had to do with the whole Netlfix taking over the show thing. I am not complaining, but there just is a shift in vibe when the show isn't using exclusively English actors. 

With all this wonderful stuff happening in the generality of the show, the meat of the show then acts as the juxtaposition, creating a world in which technology both imbeds itself in the life of the characters and destroys them.

Each episode exists as a stunningly perfect little vignette of soul-crushing despair.

This strongly positive opinion may not encompass episode 5 ("Men Against Fire"), which Gabrielle just did not care for, she said so humbly in the third-person. The great thing about Black Mirror is that I never have to watch it again, since each episode is totally stand-alone. 

If I haven't scared you off yet, I do hope you will consider delving into this dark pit of sorrow and relenting existential thunderstorm of austerity. After watching a few episodes, you will question everything that exists and how you perceive the world through technology.

In regards to an episode such as "Nosedive," every time you like a tweet, favourite a photo, post a photo, or do anything at all on social media, you will question why you are doing it and just how negatively that is impacting your entire person. That unsettling twist in your gut when you watch this show is the entire point of its existence, which is why it is as deliriously entertaining as it is disturbing.

I am someone who is constantly beset upon technology, and only appreciate it when it lets me do such things as watch the very show I am periphrastically garbling on about right now. So, I appreciate it sometimes, but this show really allows you to take a step back and see how messed up some of our obsessive technological activities are. 

Happy watching, friends! 


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