“If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side effects? This area – between delight and discomfort – is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The ‘black mirror’ of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone…”
These are the words of Charlie Brooker, creator of Black Mirror, journalist, and all-round satirical genius, when the show first hit our very own black mirrors, way back in 2011. And in the five years, two seasons, and one Christmas special that followed, the world has had nothing to say but somewhat speechless, dazzled whispers, caught up by the show’s spectacle, brutal honesty, and frighteningly plausible cataclysmic scenarios. It’s one of the best shows to grace our screens in the past decade, and it’s finally back – returning in the form of a Netflix shaped parcel for six episodes (that’s right, three isn’t enough anymore, let’s move it up to six!).
Describing itself as an anthology, Black Mirror, the moral voice of the 140-character age, has had two universally praised seasons so far, each with three unlinked episodes. Individual episodes tackle a different modern day issue, often in a satirical, hyperbolic way. The fear behind it is that the issue does have some likelihood of happening, or shows us, like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, our equally hyperbolic actions as human beings in this world of leering technology. Episodes like ‘Be Right Back’ affirm a growing addiction to a virtual existence, whilst using grief as a rowboat to explore it and what it means to deal with death; whilst ‘Fifteen Million Merits’ deals with obsession and exploitation using technology as a middle-man. Even Robert Downey Jr loves the show – having bought the rights to the Season 1 finale, ‘The Entire History of You’, in the hope of bringing it to the big screen.
Now, after a wait of nearly two years empty of technological satirical commentary (how did we cope??), Season 3 is nearly at our doorsteps. Since Season 2, America have all got on board with the whole “let’s scare ourselves about the uncertainty of a future dictated by monopolized technology companies and the 1% who control them” idea, and the show’s got a heap more funding. Which means a whole lot more stars (Mackenzie Davis, Jerome Flynn, and Bryce Dallas Howard), a whole lot more surprises – but the same, good ol’ Brooker bleakness. And its move from Channel 4 to Netflix means we can slump back and binge-watch it all in a day, hidden from the outside world to stare into the TV monitor or our laptop screens, before trawling the internet for details of Season 4. It all sounds fab – not at all like we’re living a Black Mirror episode ourselves…
Black Mirror returns on Friday 21st October, with all six episodes appearing on Netflix at once.