"Bandersnatch": Not Worth the Hype

One of the few shows that never disappoints me is Netflix’s Black Mirror. The sci-fi anthology is always thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking. So, when Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an interactive movie, dropped on Netflix at the very end of 2018, I was thrilled. According to the Netflix description, “In 1984, a young programmer begins to question reality as he adapts a dark fantasy novel into a video game. A mind-bending tale with multiple endings.” I sat down with my brother and dad to watch it, expecting to be wowed. I was not wowed.

1. It’s messy.

The whole point of Bandersnatch is that it’s a choose-your-own-adventure movie. Is it a cool concept? Yes. Does it work? No.

Some of the choices you make are so mundane that there’s no way it could affect anything, yet according to the Butterfly Effect, they seemingly do. Other choices don’t really give you a choice, just two similar options that will obviously lead to the same result. There are also some choices that are “the wrong choice,” which will lead you back to the same place over and over again until you pick correctly.

There are a few different endings, but to try and get to a different ending means going back and paying attention to make different choices than you did before. It’s exhausting.

2. It’s boring.

There is absolutely nothing interesting about Bandersnatch. I found myself so uninterested in the characters that it just felt laborious to have to pick up the remote and make decisions. The main character, Stefan, has absolutely no personality. Sure, he has a troubled past – but he’s still just so boring.

One of the reasons I like Black Mirror so much is that it always makes me think. Bandersnatch didn’t make me think about anything except how bad it was. There is no existential question to ponder over, no morally grey characters to debate and no technology to judge the ethical value of.

3. It’s mind-numbingly cheesy.

Bandersnatch was so riddled with cliches that I had to double-check that it was actually Black Mirror, a show that usually contains entirely unique plotlines and characters. I found myself rolling my eyes more than once.

I’m pretty sure Bandersnatch was supposed to be a “commentary” on television and the way media is consumed in 2018, but it really just felt like a vehicle for Netflix to show their dominance in the world of video streaming by inserting their brand into their original content in a way that has never been done before. Netflix’s attempt to be edgy and progressive failed miserably. Having “Netflix from the future” talk to Stefan was so tacky that I almost got second-hand embarrassment.

4. The female representation is problematic.

Black Mirror has had excellent female representation in the past, with over half of the episodes featuring a female lead character. Bandersnatch, however, was majorly disappointing on this end. To start, here’s a breakdown of the female characters:

  • Kitty, Colin’s girlfriend

  • Dr. Haynes, Stefan’s therapist

  • Mum, Stefan’s mother

See the problem? The (three!) female characters in Bandersnatch only exist to support men. Plus, they are all white and abled. Quite frankly, I’m tired of watching movies about white boy after white boy. It’s getting old.

Bandersnatch was a disappointment of epic proportions. It was a fantastic idea in theory, but something fell short in its execution. If Netflix elects to make another choose-your-own-adventure type movie, they will need to re-evaluate the model and actually provide an interesting character that viewers can invest in. I’m sorry, Black Mirror! I still love you.