I loved the first two seasons of BLACK MIRROR. Imaginative, thought-provoking, dystopian, occasionally agonizing. So when Season 3 came to Netflix (with a bonus Season 2 episode, “White Christmas”), I had some high hopes. But wow, freaking wow. It went way beyond my expectations.
If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a series of individual, unconnected stories. Each examines what would happen if a particular technology or technology-related trend become predominant in our culture. Such as using TV to control others, reality TV, living in a Facebook world. That being said, the show is more about human nature than technology. For example, in Season 1, one episode describes a man suspicious of his wife having an affair. Because people’s eyes can record everything they see and hear, he is able to confirm his wife’s affair and watch it happen in his own eyes, driving him to despair and the loss of his marriage and children.
As you can see from that example, most of the episodes have a sharp edge. Watching them, you can feel how disconnected the characters are, the isolation and twinge of despair. Season 3 starts off with a bang with “Nosedive,” about a woman living in a world where your average “like” rating determines where you can live, your job opportunities, and so on. People rate each other all day long with 1-5 star ratings and are extra nice to each other to avoid getting dinged. Every interaction has big stakes. This woman works as hard as she can to have a high rating, but needs to nudge it higher to qualify for a great apartment she wants. The stress this puts on her pushes her to the breaking point. The ending is cathartic and while dark is strangely hopeful, particularly for a BLACK MIRROR episode.
Another favorite in this season was “Hated in the Nation.” Part cop drama, part technological terrorism plot. Two UK police officers investigate a series of bizarre murders of people who say something tasteless or unpopular in the media and ended up vilified and hated for it. The episode plays off how a wrong word can result in a cyber mob coming after you with pitchforks, how social media facilitates public shaming. It was one of the best things I’ve seen on TV.
The rest of the season is terrific as well. I highly recommend it if you enjoy extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking drama with a dystopian flavor.