This heart-stopping postmodern-Twilight Zone anthology series from Channel 4 is the only TV show that I have unequivocally recommended to every person I know, and they were always like, "Cool, where do I watch it," and there was never a good answer: until today.
Though a third season and at least one Hollywood movie adaptation is in the works, Black Mirror is just six hour-long episodes, divided into two seasons. Each show's narrative is wildly distinct in its tone, theme and rate of revelation—in "National Anthem," the first episode, the rules of the game are laid out within the first three minutes; in the mini-horror-movie "White Bear," you don't understand what you're seeing until the end—but all of them are linked by creator Charlie Brooker's conceit, in which some aspect of currently existing technology is stretched like demon taffy and wrapped seductively around our collective neck.
In his own words, at the Guardian:
If technology is a drug–and it does feel like a drug–then what, precisely, are the side-effects?
This area–between delight and discomfort–is where Black Mirror, my new drama series, is set. The "black mirror" of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.
To be more concrete, and to lightly spoil an episode: what would you do if we all had an implanted visual chip allowing us to project, rewind, zoom in on our memories for everyone to see? That's the conceit of the Black Mirror installment that Robert Downey Jr. optioned for a movie, and ever since I have been wholly disturbed by this particular image of a couple having sex, both of their minds spinning off into intensely hot remembered memory-turned-fantasy, but barely aware of each other in the present:
As Emily Yoshida writes at Grantland, you'll want to talk about the show as you see it—it's exhilarating and confusing and nauseating and one-step-ahead smart—and, even better, "it isn't a depressing drama about a flawed male anti-hero." And from Andy Greenwald, also at Grantland:
Black Mirror may traffic in extremity — robots, porn-strafed dystopias — but nothing about it is implausible. That's because Brooker understands the fundamental, if oft-ignored, rule of science fiction: Technology has the power to change our lives, not who we are. The savage brilliance of Black Mirror lies in the way its protagonists are no different from any of us: venal, coarse, hopeful, bored, romantic, and above all, scared.
Get in here, and tell all your friends: your advent-of-winter doldrums just got a shot of adrenaline in the ass.
Images via Channel 4.