I was intrigued about the idea of a modern sci-fi anthology, in the vein of Twilight Zone, from the first reports of Black Mirror that I heard. When I told my wife about how excited I was, she didn’t really get my enthusiasm at first, until she asked, “Wait. It’s like a Ray Bradbury collection?”
“Well, yes,” I said. “Yes it is.” That got her attention (She loves Ray Bradbury short stories more than just about anything).
And that is probably the finest comparison that could be made. Black Mirror is simply exceptional, and despite its diverse array of directors and actors, it manages to be the most cogent and coherent warning against the misuse of technology I have ever seen on television.
I’ll warn you; season one starts on a dark note, and almost every episode had me covering my mouth in either horror or shock. It is satire, but satire with a keen cutting edge. Don’t go in looking for a fun, utopian vision of the future. There is a place for utopias, and we desperately need media to offer visions of the future that inspire us to greater connection, closer-knit communities, deeper civic engagement.
But we also need it to point to the horizon, and warn us if a storm is coming.
Below are the episodes, ranked by best to worst (although even the worst was still pretty good).
1. Be Right Back (Season 2, Episode 1)
A young wife experiences a devastating loss, but her attempts to deal with her grief bring unintended consequences.
2. The National Anthem (Season 1, Episode 1)
England’s favorite princess is kidnapped, and the Prime Minister is given an unspeakable choice.
3. The Entire History of You (Season 1, Episode 3)
In a future where all your memories are recorded and easily shown to others, one marriage is strained to the breaking.
4. White Bear (Season 2, Episode 2)
An amnesic woman awakes in a room, a strange image on the television. Everyone in the town is watching her…and then The Hunters arrive.
5. Fifteen Million Merits (Season 1, Episode 2)
Everything costs merits, and one man will risk them all to enter a reality competition that controls his entire life.
6. The Waldo Moment (Season 2, Episode 3)
What if a crude, abrasive cartoon ran for political office?
Have you watched Black Mirror? What was your favorite episode?