Ever since it was picked up by Netflix, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror has continued to gain high levels of both critical and fan acclaim. Now that the fourth series has been watched and digested by everyone, and a fifth series is in production, here are some things you can pore over while you wait for your favourite downer of a TV show to return.
Inside No. 9 (2014 – Present)
If you’re in the mood for another dark, British anthology series, look no further than Inside No. 9. Created by and starring Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton (League of Gentlemen), each episode of this series tells a spine-chilling tale, set in some location associated with 9. Much like Black Mirror, each episode of this show is told in complete isolation from the one preceding it, featuring a different cast of characters, and often changing genres. The writing for the show is sublime, very often hilarious, but always tinged with a sense of discomfort and tension, building up to a shockingly unexpected twist. The first two seasons are currently available on Netflix, so check them out if you haven’t already done so – you won’t be disappointed.
Westworld (2016 – Present)
The nature of AI and how we treat machines that seem almost human has been a recurring theme in fiction, and Black Mirror has touched on the idea frequently, most notably in the episodes ‘White Christmas’ and ‘USS Callister’. If the idea fascinates you as well, then I’d recommend checking out HBO’s Westworld, ahead of the second season’s premiere. Set in a theme park where rich humans can kill and shag to their hearts’ content, the show asks the question of where to draw the line between the humans, and the human-like robots that populate the park. Combine this intriguing moral quandary with an exciting story, and a mesmerising cast, which includes Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins, and you have one hell of an engrossing show.
Get Out (2017)
This might seem like a bizarre choice, but Jordan Peele’s directorial debut feels very much like it could fit in with the overall themes of Charlie Brooker’s creation. Get Out questions aspects of our current society, namely the ideas of racism and cultural appropriation, doing so in a way that is strikingly similar to our own reality. The script as well, much like Black Mirror, is brilliantly written, balancing dark comedy and horror, full of subtle foreshadowing and little details, and laced with shocking twist revelations. Featuring a brilliant cast of actors, this is a delightfully twisted tale that will horrify you and make you question yourself and your values – in short, exactly like Black Mirror at its best.
Published almost 70 years ago, George Orwell’s magnum opus remains as relevant as ever in today’s society. The story of an ordinary man living in a post-apocalyptic world, deciding to rebel against a government that rules through fear, using propaganda, surveillance and the threat of death to keep the people in line, has been a frightening depiction of totalitarianism and has provided inspiration for many dystopia-set tales. This includes Black Mirror, as many of the show’s episodes have drawn influence from 1984, with series one’s ‘Fifteen Million Merits’ arguably being a sort of spiritual successor to Orwell’s dark fable. If you love the dystopian tone that Brooker often inserts into the show, then there’s no better way to follow it up than to visit, or revisit, the grandfather of the genre.