The society and culture of the 1960s was captivated by Rod Serling’s seminal science fiction anthology series The Twilight Zone, which opened people’s minds to new ideas and captured all of humanity’s political paranoia and fears at the time. Today, our society should be captivated by Black Mirror, which is the new Twilight Zone. It has all of the same effects – capturing our fears and paranoias and shortcomings – but for the modern day. It’s about the rapid advancement of technology and why that’s not a good thing at all. Everyone should be watching Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror. Here are 10 reasons why!
10. It’s the scariest show on television
Black Mirror, without a doubt, the scariest show on TV right now, and that’s a good thing – a great thing, in fact. People like to be scared. It’s the whole reason there’s a horror genre that turns over hundreds of millions of dollars at the global box office every year. People love to be frightened or chilled or shocked or unnerved. It makes us feel alive. It makes us feel human. If these are the kind of thrills you’re looking for, then look no further, because Black Mirror has it all. There’s no other show that will frighten you or chill you or shock you or unnerve you or thrill you anywhere near as much as Black Mirror does. If you think The Walking Dead is scary, then guess again. Zombies are a fantasy. They don’t exist. Technologies that invade our privacy and brainwash our military and hack our personal files and watch us when we don’t know we’re being watched do exist. Those are all too real. Black Mirror opens our eyes to that and there’s nothing we can do about it and that’s terrifying. But again, this is a good thing. This is a reason to watch the show.
9. The critics don’t lie
The critics have loved Black Mirror since the very beginning. They always look forward to reviewing each new season and always gush over its smart storytelling, diverse characters, and strong, socially relevant themes. The very first episode, “The National Anthem,” was described by the Daily Telegraph’s reviewer as “a shocking but ballsy, blackly comic study of the modern media,” and added, “This was a dementedly brilliant idea. The satire was so audacious, it left me open-mouthed and squealing. Rather like that poor pig.” (If you’ve seen it, you’ll get that one.) The critical praise has continued throughout the entire series. It’s been called, “an apocalypse of modern world,” a “work of dark and twisted genius,” “near perfection,” “profound,” “thrilling stuff,” and “escapist entertainment with a very real-world sting in its tail.” These critics know what they’re talking about and they want you to watch all the best shows on television and they swear by Black Mirror! You should listen to these critics. Black Mirror has won Emmys and BAFTAs and Peabody Awards – they don’t just hand those out to anyone. To win prestigious awards like that, a show has to be pretty darn good, and that sentiment could not be truer of this particular show.
Despite being almost entirely written and devised by a straight, white guy, Black Mirror is one of the most diverse shows on television. The episodes of the show feature all kinds of different races, gay couples, interracial couples, different religions, people with disabilities – and no big deal is made of it. Characters aren’t made gay to make a political point or for the episode to be an ‘issues’ episode – they’re simply gay if they just happen to be gay and their romantic relationship is a part of the plot. Black actors and Muslim actors and Asian actors and female actors and gay actors and Hispanic actors and, well, just about every minority group you can think of, are given strong leading roles in Black Mirror episodes, and the characters aren’t stereotypes and their minority group doesn’t define their role in the plot. It’s very admirable. The episode “San Junipero” is familiar to even people who know nothing about Black Mirror, because it was heavily praised by critics and awarded with Emmy Awards for its lesbian representation. But it’s not an ‘issues’ episode. It’s just a love story that happens to be about two women who are in love, that’s all. It’s really great. More shows should be like this, but until they are, you can watch Black Mirror.
7. You’ll recognize the cast
Big stars don’t tend to get tied down to TV shows, because it’s a long commitment that could occupy an undetermined number of years, but when the commitment is just one episode of an anthology series like Black Mirror, if the script and the part are good, then they’ll sign right up! So, in Black Mirror, you’ll be surprised by who’s in the cast of each episode. You get fantastic and famous actors like the great Jon Hamm, Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, Toby Kebbell, Hayley Atwell, better known as Peggy Carter, Bryce Dallas Howard, Kelly Macdonald, Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jesse Plemons, Andrea Riseborough, Jodie Whittaker, who was recently cast as the first female Doctor on Doctor Who, Domhnall Gleeson from the new Star Wars movies, the underrated Rafe Spall, Mackenzie Davis, Alice Eve, Jerome Flynn from Game of Thrones, Cristin Milioti, better known as the mother from How I Met Your Mother, Letitia Wright from Black Panther, Rupert Everett, Benedict Wong, Jimmi Simpson from Westworld – tons of talented and recognizable performers. Oh, and there’s a little cameo appearance by Aaron Paul in one episode. Well, just his voice, but it’s still a lot of fun. Listen out for it!
6. Every episode is completely different
At the risk of simply defining what an anthology series is in an attempt to get you to watch just one of them, every single episode of Black Mirror is completely different. New characters, new storylines, new settings – new everything. Watching a new TV show can be a major commitment. It might scare you off, the prospect of sitting down to start a whole new TV series, which could have six or seven seasons and over a hundred episodes. It’s scary. But don’t worry about that with Black Mirror, because every episode has a brand new self-contained storyline. They’re like a bunch of mini movies with a connecting theme. So, one episode could be about a post-apocalyptic world that’s been taken over by evil robots, and then the next one could be about a cartoon character running for political office, and then the next one could be about a VR gaming test that gets all too real. They’re all about the dangers of technology in modern society and where our obsession with technology is taking us, but they’re all vastly different stories – and that’s what makes it so darn enjoyable (and also, a lot of the time, terrifying) to watch.
5. It makes you fear what you love
Do you love your iPhone? Think again! Black Mirror teaches you a very important lesson that gets lost on today’s generation that obsesses over the newest technologies and blindly worships it. It teaches you to be critical of that technology. There’s an episode of the show from its third season called “Shut Up and Dance” that was created by Charlie Brooker in an attempt to do an episode of the show that would feature terrifying use of technologies that exist today, in a story that could actually take place today. In the episode, a kid is filmed masturbating by some hackers who have hacked into his webcam (and there’s an even darker secret that he’s trying to hide, too). That could really happen today! The episode makes you make sure to cover up your webcam. Black Mirror makes you fear the technologies that you worship and it opens your eyes to their dangers and inevitable consequences. The critics who reviewed the fantastic Christmas special episode “White Christmas” praised it for doing just that. “It exaggerated present day technology and obsessions to subtle but infernal effect, a nightmare before Christmas reminder that to revere our digital gizmos is to become their pathetic slave.”
4. The future settings feel accurate
This is not Blade Runner or Back to the Future Part II – the future settings of Black Mirror episodes all feel alarmingly plausible and real. In fact, a lot of the future predictions from Black Mirror episodes that are only a couple of years old are already starting to come true. In the episode “The National Anthem,” the British Prime Minister has to have sex with a pig in order to save the life of a kidnapped princess. Four years after it first aired, David Cameron got wrapped up in the Piggate scandal that suggested he had molested a dead pig in college. In “The Waldo Moment,” a brash, offensive, loud-mouthed, anti-government cartoon character from a TV show ran for political office and won. Three years after that aired, Donald Trump became the President of the United States. In the episode “Hated in the Nation,” some robot bees are hacked and used to murder people. Some scientists have recently created some robot bees and admitted that they could be hacked. In “Nosedive,” a social media app where people’s ratings of you determine your socioeconomic status. In China, they’re considering a Social Credit System that does just that. It’s eerie stuff. You need to jump in on this show before we start living it.
3. You never know what to expect
When you’re watching Black Mirror, at the end of each episode, just as the next one is about to begin (this is a Netflix original, you see), you don’t know what the hell to expect. Sometimes they’ll surprise you with a black and white episode or a feature length episode or a meta, self-aware episode – nothing is off limits! It is often said of movies and TV shows that you never know what to expect. It’s a good marketing tool to use that phrase. But when it comes to Black Mirror, that’s actually true! It’ll be a powerful study of some sort of theme, but you can’t guess what that theme will be. The episodes touch on everything from grief to parenthood to dating to jealousy to guilt – just about every theme or feeling that you can think of has been touched upon in some form or another in an episode of Black Mirror. The stories of Black Mirror’s episodes take even more twists and turns that anything on The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits ever did. The storytelling and the unexpected plot turns are all so masterfully crafted. At the end of every episode, you’ll be genuinely impressed. Kudos to Charlie Brooker.
2. It opens your mind to things you’ve never even thought of before
Black Mirror is easily the most mind-boggling show on television right now. If you value your brain and your standing in reality, then it would probably be best not to watch it. But if you want your mind and your understanding of the world to be expanded and your sense of reality to be questioned, then jump right in! Some of the concepts and ideas in Black Mirror are things that you’ve never even considered could exist, and the show doesn’t just give you a depiction of these concepts – it shows you what would happen to humanity if they had access to these things. You know how you can block people on Facebook? Imagine if you could block people in real life! You know how when you argue with your other half, you bring up old events from the past? Imagine if you could pull up video footage of that event! You know how you can like people’s posts on Facebook and Instagram? Imagine if you could rate actual interactions with human beings and it determined people’s socioeconomic status! Point is, there are some truly mind-blowing concepts in the 19 installments of Black Mirror – and the show will open your mind in ways you can’t even imagine!
1. The plot twists
Everyone loves a good plot twist. You’re being led down one path, made to believe that it’s headed in one direction or things are a certain way, and then the story takes you on a very sharp and very rapid left turn and blows your mind. The most memorable plot twists in the history of fiction have generally been from movies – The Empire Strikes Back and Fight Club and The Usual Suspects and The Sixth Sense. But thanks to Black Mirror, some really interesting and memorable plot twists have been making their way onto the small screen. What’s great about the plot twists in Black Mirror is that they’re subtly hinted at throughout the episode in ways that don’t make sense to you until the twist is revealed and you’re finally able to go clear and understand everything. It’s because of this that the episodes stand endless rewatching, because you’re always picking up on new things. The best plot twist in the show is in the season 2 episode “White Bear,” and the critics all agreed that they hated it initially, because “the acting was unbelievable, the script was riddled with horror film cliches, the violence was a bit over the top” – but that’s what Charlie Brooker wanted you to think, because without spoiling anything, that all turns out to be vital to an ultimately harrowing plot where your sense of reality is questioned and everything makes complete sense. “I turned out to be absolutely dead wrong on every single count,” one critic confessed. “It’s another work of dark and twisted genius from Mr. Brooker.”