Charlie Brooker first blessed our screens with Black Mirror in 2011, a hidden gem on Channel 4. Season 1 was the first portal into the twisted darkness, what with the prime minister getting rather intimate with a farm animal and people trapped in a slave-like existence having only a talent show to give them hope of freedom. Season 2 brought similar treats in 2013, but it’s the messages behind these episodes that make Black Mirror truly black, not just muggy grey.
Brooker explains how the series demonstrates a ‘worried’ future that could take us, with the focus mainly being on power and technology taking control over us rather than us taking control of it. Think about it – the inhumane act of the prime minister is a satiric demonstration of loss of political power, while a new device that ‘reincarnates’ a deceased loved one shows how technology intervening in social relations can have dire consequences. It has been said that “if you show a cave man technology, he would think it is magic. If you showed a modern man magic, he would believe that it is technology.” Black Mirror demonstrates the extreme possibilities, and dangers, of this claim, and they never failed to amaze.
‘Failed.’ Past tense. Series three, unfortunately, doesn’t live up to the standards of series 1 and 2. Not every episode, however. The best episodes, Hated in the Nation and Shut Up and Dance, like the episodes of the first two seasons, portray a dark reality what technology can do for us (rather more, what it can take away from us, such as our autonomy and freedom). But the rest, well…they’re More ‘grey mirror’ with a bit of commercialised glitter sprinkled on. With the happy endings and fluffiness, the darkness is no longer there – just a fancy Americanisation of the word ‘dark’ that ends up being in-your-face-really-trying-to-be-creepy-that’s-a-bit-too-over-the-top. The messages behind them are just as impressive as the first two seasons, but the issue is the ‘spark’ is there, rather than it not.
But all this aside, season 3 doesn’t demean Brooker as a writer. The ideas and plots he invents is something only a genius could cook up. My opinion aside, season 3’s platform on Netflix has increased views, and the show is getting the popularity it deserved years ago. With the success of season 3, season 4 is on the horizon. Let’s hope the darkness returns, and no one turns the lights on.