We are in a golden age of television. We are also in an age of excess. As such, we often have to pick and choose what we watch, because we simply don’t have enough time to watch everything that is good. Unfortunately, that means that a lot of great shows slip through the cracks. As a fan of TV, who watches much more TV than the regular person, I am always sad to see some of the best TV shows slip so far beneath the radar that they become obscure and unknown. In an effort to improve the standing of some of these “lost” shows, I have decided to create Spotlight, a new Feature series at TVEnthusiast. Spotlight will be a regular article series that, with each iteration, pleads the case of a different series that has somehow slipped under the radar.
Writer/Journalist Charlie Brooker (Dead Set, A Touch of Cloth) turned heads when his dystopic science fiction anthology series Black Mirror debuted on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. We at TVEnthusiast have been fans of both the series, and Brooker himself, ever since. In the past, TVEnthusiast has reviewed Black Mirror, and it has appeared in several of our articles, including the first ever Advocates of Great Television segment of The Weekly Set. With the recent news of a Netflix deal for an additional 12 episodes, we thought it would be a good time to shine our Spotlight on the series. As such, our 7th iteration of Spotlight is all about Charlie Brooker’s brilliantly dark dystopian anthology series, Black Mirror.
What is Black Mirror?
Black Mirror is a Twilight Zone-esque high concept anthology series. Billed as a comedy in the United Kingdom, Black Mirror is an effective reflection of the effects of technology on society. The title of the series, Black Mirror, is in reference to what all of our TV, phone, and computer screens look like when they are turned off. Conceptually speaking, series creator Charlie Brooker put it best when he described his creation for The Guardian by saying, “Like an addict, I check my Twitter timeline the moment I wake up. And often I wonder: is all this really good for me? For us? None of these things have been foisted upon humankind – we’ve merrily embraced them. But where is it all leading? If technology is a drug – and it does feel like a drug – then what, precisely, are the side-effects?” The exploration of these “side-effects” is what Black Mirror is all about. Each episode is a self contained story dealing with the societal ramifications of near future technologies. Black Mirror is, in essence, The Twilight Zone, with technology.
What Makes Black Mirror Good?
So, why do we hold Black Mirror in such high esteem? Mostly for its clever writing and thought provoking concepts. From a critical look at where micro-transactions could spread, to an exploration of privacy concerns in a world in which everything is documented, Black Mirror breaks a lot of new ground in very exciting ways. All of this is only strengthened by the impeccable execution in production. With amazing cinematography, astounding sound editing, and strong performances all around, Black Mirror is an extremely polished product. Every episode, as the series is an episodic anthology, has its own cast, which, throughout the series as a whole, has continued to be exceptional. Noteworthy actors appearing in the series have included Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Domhnall Gleeson (Ex Machina), Oona Chaplin (Game of Thrones), and Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey). Findlay’s episode of the series, 15 Million Merits, is, perhaps, my personal favorite piece of dystopian science fiction, easily holding its own against the masterpieces of the genre. Though what is truly impressive, is that even my least favorite episodes of Black Mirror, hold their own as well.
Why is Black Mirror Being Featured on Spotlight?
Black Mirror actually got a fair amount of attention when it came out in the United Kingdom. Word of mouth has also helped the series quickly become a beloved quantity in other regions as well. So why is the series in Spotlight, a feature series designed to shed light on unknown shows? While Black Mirror does get a decent share of attention, its exposure, in North America, is mostly limited to word of mouth. If you do not know somebody who watches Black Mirror, you have likely never heard of Black Mirror. For this very reason, we have decided that Black Mirror deserves a spot on Spotlight. Black Mirror is simply too good to receive so little attention in regions outside of its native origin.
Should I Watch Black Mirror?
YES! But seriously, if you enjoy high concept and thought provoking science fiction, Black Mirror is not only worth considering, it is, perhaps, the best of its kind, in recent memory at least. Should you watch an amazing TV series that challenges the new norms of our current society by exploring the darker directions in which they might spread? YES! If you watch television primarily for comfort, however, you might find Black Mirror unpalatable. The series can inspire visceral reactions. The first episode, in particular, can be quite shocking and disturbing. Personally, I am a fan of shows which challenge my comfort, but not everybody is. That being said, if you have read this far, I’d imagine that you and I are like minded.
Black Mirror has had 2 seasons, of 3 episodes each, air on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. A Christmas special, White Christmas, came out in last year’s holiday season as well. The first 2 seasons are currently available on Netflix in America. White Christmas is not yet available to stream on the service. Netflix recently worked out a deal with series creator Charlie Brooker to acquire 12 additional episodes of the series as a Netflix original. No further details have yet to be released regarding the schedule of episode distribution.
Have you seen Black Mirror? Are you interested? Tell us in our comments, and stay tuned to TVEnthusiast for more coverage of Black Mirror, and all of your favorite shows.