Black Mirror mirrors the dark side of technology

Max Miranda and Rami Chaudhry, A&E Editor

Look down at your phone. Do not turn it on, just look down at it.  Do you see it?  The black mirror?

Not even a decade after the creation of the iPhone, our society is obsessed with the smartphone.

Satirical writer Charlie Brooks has taken this rapid expansion of technology and extrapolated it to a scary degree in his UK series, Black Mirror.  This British series—now growing in popularity in the U.S. thanks to Netflix—is a dark drama that gives the viewer a peek into the future of technology, and the emotional toll it may take.

I am sorry to report that, according to Brooks, the future is looking pretty bleak.

Black Mirror is an anthology series, meaning that each episode is armed with a new plot and characters, with a completely new cast of actors.  Sometimes episodes are set in entirely different realities, with the only consistency being the common theme of the future of technology and its potential pitfalls.

Each episode is a miniature movie  that plays out like The Twilight Zone or Goosebumps.  Although the show has been airing since 2011, there are only six episodes over the span of two seasons, with the exception of a recent Christmas special starring Jon Hamm.

Despite this relatively slow production, the show has been consistently shocking audiences since its inception.

While the show’s pilot, “The National Anthem,” certainly was surprising, many viewers found it to be the weakest of the episodes.  It centered around the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom after the kidnapping of Royal Princess Susannah.  The kidnapper crudely blackmails the country’s head.  What this episode lacks in common sense, it makes up for in raw emotion.  The episode made viewers laugh, cry, and question the role and influence of social media in our society.  In this way, the show’s pilot was a very accurate taste of what later episodes would feature: disturbing situations involving new technology.

The final episode of the first season was even more haunting, taking place in a future where most people can see and hear memories using a brain implant called a “grain.”  This episode, titled “The Entire History of You,” is one of the most acclaimed in the entire series.  In this episode, young lawyer Liam Foxwell (Toby Kebbell) becomes extraordinarily jealous of a man named Jonas (Tom Cullen), to whom he believes his wife is attracted.  This jealousy, combined with substance abuse, results in an extremely effective ending that tugs hard on viewer’s heartstrings.  The technological aspect of this episode struck a chord with people today who constantly feel the need to share every part of their life on social media.  Many find this episode to be the most powerful, a generalization supported by the fact that Robert Downey, Jr. bought the rights for the episode and plans on making it a major motion picture.

“Tonight’s final episode of Black Mirror, however, left me sitting in front of an appropriately black screen with the expression of a man who has just witnessed the murder of an entire litter of kittens,” said Metro News writer Christopher Hooton in a recent article.

Skipping ahead, episode two of the second season, “White Bear,” features the equivalent of a real-life nightmare.  The plot centers around Victoria Skillane (Lenora Crichlow), who wakes up in a room with no idea who she is, why she is there, and why nobody will communicate with her. The people outside have their smartphones out in front of their faces, recording every little movement Victoria makes.

This episode strays away from the theme slightly to bring an even more intensely disturbing scene.  “White Bear” builds and builds to potentially the best climax we have seen.

Black Mirror is one of the most intense, emotional, and shocking shows to hit television since the turn of the century.  Its obscene and absurd elements do not take away from the show’s ability to achieve the ultimate goal of art: to move the viewer.  Black Mirror is finally available in the U.S. via Netflix.  Looking for your next drama?  Add Black Mirror to your instant queue and enjoy.