The Best TV Show You're Not Watching
Science fiction is a genre dominated by deep leaps into the future. Interstellar, for example, shows Earth on its deathbed, new planets and lifelike artificial intelligence. As humans, we always want to imagine ourselves innovating the world and bettering ourselves. There's always something about flying cars, too. However, the UK's Channel 4 show Black Mirror is challenging the standards of science fiction by imagining technology that is only a blink away, a glimmer in science's eyes.
Black Mirror, a collection of unrelated installments, shows the ways socialization, politics and human values suffer as our technology evolves at its current rapid rate. It's not "anti-technology" propaganda, though. It's just more-or-less cautionary tales about what can happen when technology that endows citizens with the power to threaten powerful people, practically bring lovers back to life and influence elections is put in the wrong hands.
What I love about Black Mirror is how it makes its viewers step back and say, "Hey, that could happen to me one day." The key to Black Mirror's success is how rich its characters are. The viewer identifies with the character and sympathizes with him or her, which makes the introduction of whatever technology causing the conflict to be smooth and natural. Also, Black Mirror is a rare gift in television because it does not tie each episode up in a neat, nice bow. Though it is probably because they simply do not have enough time to, there are so many conclusions to be made that are left up to the viewer. Since most episodes focus on a small group of people or a single society, there is no way to know what has happened to other countries, classes and species. At least for me, the events that take place in each Black Mirror require at least an hour of recovery time to go over what happened and then write a tweet about it that just says: "AAAAAAAAAH!!!!! BLACK MIRROR!!!!!"
Now, as I am absolutely sure that you have been SO enticed to watch Black Mirror after this suggestion, I do not want to spoil your viewing. But, I need to set the stage to bring in any doubters. The fourth episode, called "Be Right Back" is about a system that takes a dead person's social media activity and makes a chat bot out of them, in the fashion of Spike Jonze's Her. This episode, as well as the first, third, fifth and sixth episodes, does wonders by only introducing a new technology, but changing nothing else. The characters are all in modern clothing, not metallic jumpsuits or something. They don't drive hovercrafts or floating chairs, either. They drive sedans.
The final thing I admire about Black Mirror is its diversity. There are a variety of characters, male and female, black and white. Each character is three-dimensional, emotionally feeling and deeply motivated. Also, for having so few episodes it covers a range of topics and current social issues. One episode touches on anonymous threats using technology to threaten the government. (Remember a little movie called The Interview?) Another covers criminal justice, another infidelity. Black Mirror is relatable within its unreliability.
Though Interstellar is dazzling, and (full disclosure) did make me cry a little, Black Mirror is utilizing the resources and extended parameters that science fiction provides and using it to help humans evaluate themselves and see their flaws. Each episode points out a human shortcoming and a technology that enhances it. We are often perverse, we are vain, we are insecure, we will do anything for closure, we love to see each other suffer, we constantly feel the need to make a statement and we are cruel punishers. However, each episode points out one beautiful human quality: We are constantly looking to change and solve our problems.
While for now you can relish in being one of the lucky few who knows about this phenomenal show, it is taking off fast. For now, you can find the first six episodes on Netflix, and the seventh on Channel 4's website. In viewing, I suggest that you watch only one episode at a time, and each episode in one sitting. Also, look out for a few familiar faces. There will be appearances by the familiar Jessica Brown Findlay, Domhall Gleeson and (a personal favorite) JON HAMM. Also, since the show is from the UK, it may take a while to get used to hearing through British accents. At least twice, I also commented to myself on how in the future, everyone drives in the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road. Then I remembered that I am a complete idiot. So, in conclusion, Black Mirror is touching because it is an elegant look at a likely future.