Season four of Black Mirror is out now and I just watched all six episodes on Netflix. I’ve been a fan of the show since I discovered it and it’s still going strong, in my opinion. I love it for its intelligence, its authenticity and its unpredictability – you really don’t know how each episode will end until the final scene. If you like smart storytelling with a dark edge, you’d have a hard time finding better than Black Mirror.
It’s an anthology series like The Twilight Zone wherein each episode is completely isolated from any others so that you don’t need to watch them in order or even watch them all. That appeals to my short attention span. It’s got a variety of styles suitable to whatever the story of the episode is, but the general theme is science-fiction and the examination of where our technology might lead us.
It’s also incredibly dark, but I like that because when the show has the odd happy ending it feels a lot more earned and special than a typical show where it’s all but guaranteed. The show is also pretty subtle, giving you most of the contextual information visually rather than having characters spout expository dialogue and so there is a risk of losing the thread of the plot if you’re not watching closely. Personally, I hate being spoon-fed a story and much prefer being rewarded for paying attention.
My favourite episodes have tended to have more pleasant endings, of course, because I am at heart a sentimental romantic who likes it when things to turn out well, just as long as it’s earned and not presumed. I think the “San Junipero” episode is still the series highlight as it moved me to tears, but I also love the intensely dark “White Bear” and “White Christmas” (the latter starring John Hamm). Of the new season, “USS Callister” stands out for me because of my background in Star Trek fandom, but “Hang the DJ” takes the cake for approaching the heights of “San Junipero”.
Black Mirror is probably my favourite series currently in production. I love the anthology format for its variety of stories and its bite-sized scale, plus the series is highly unpredictable and just incredibly well written and realized by everyone involved. There are no weak episodes and quite a few that are really exceptional storytelling; poignant, disturbing, moving. If you like sciencefiction or even just twisted stories, do yourself a favour and check out Black Mirror.