After a wait of several years, it has been announced that Season 6 will be coming to Netflix and despite behind the scenes changes, Charlie Brooker will be working on the show. Black Mirror has the potential to be the bleakest show in the history of television. Of the twenty-three episodes that make up the show, it has, maybe, three episodes that are not despairingly bleak. This bleakness can be the social media/social anxiety nightmare of Nosedive, the terrifying and horrific onslaught that is White Bear or the creepy unsettling unending loss of control of USS Callister. Looking at what it’s covered previously what will the next series look like and what does Black Mirror still have to say.
Episodes: Nosedive, Smithereens, Hated In The Nation
Smithereens focuses on someone who blames social media for ruining his life, with the fact that it is designed to make you addicted to its notifications distracting him and causing a terrible accident. Nosedive takes place in a society where an app allows people to rate every interaction and so each person has a rating, and heaven helps those with a bad rating. The problems of social media have gone far beyond it being an irresistible distraction with misinformation easily spread across the world in seconds, comments sections becoming an exceptionally vicious battlefield in the culture war and seemingly millions of trolls/bots inciting hatred and violence. Nosedive felt very much like a glimpse into the near future but things have already moved on. Social media continues to evolve at breakneck speed and will TikTok or NFTs be the next target of the show.
Technology That Gives You What You Want
The Entire History Of You, Be Right Back, White Christmas, Arkangel
A lesson to be learned from Black Mirror is you should think through what technology will do and what it will change. The Entire History Of You has seemingly replaced fallible human memory with a perfect storage system which can even be rewatched. This sounds great…until someone wants to see your memories. White Christmas envisions an AI assistant who can get everything perfectly right for you…this is because a version of your mind is extracted and is the AI. A real-life technology like CRISPR, the ability to edit your genes, already seems like a sci-fi dystopia waiting to happen.
The Nice Ones
Episodes: San Junipero, Hang The DJ, Striking Vipers
It is easy to forget that new technology and culture will not simply lead to awfulness and has done, and will continue to do, amazing things. San Junipero envisions a virtual reality existence of hopping between different time periods, meeting people and enjoying life, giving experiences to those who could be denied them for any number of reasons. Hang The DJ lets us take the perspective of the inner workings of a dating app working out its very reliable predictions. For much of San Junipero and Hang The DJ the audience is waiting for the horror to start, for the VR world to turn against those inside, or for what we see in Hang The DJ is really some awful social experiment. Going forward there is much to be enthusiastic for in terms of technology and Brooker has said he wanted more positive and optimistic stories.
The real issue is there will always be new technology and culture that will impact on society but does Black Mirror still capture the zeitgeist. The show started in 2011 and in terms of being on the cutting edge of culture that is a very long time. Charlie Brooker, and the other writers, will still make great episodes but Black Mirror wasn’t just an entertaining show, it felt bang up to date on what was going on in the world and this will become increasingly difficult. As mentioned Charlie Brooker has talked about how the pandemic has made him uncomfortable writing stories about the collapse of societies and so perhaps we will have a brighter Black Mirror.
Also Read: Top 5 Black Mirror Episodes