The experience of watching Black Mirror is usually split into two parts. First, you’re trying to decipher what it is that is new and odd about the world you’re seeing. You essentially ask, what piece of technology has overtaken these people’s lives, and how close is it to what we have now?
The second part is dread . . . a feeling in the pit of your stomach as you wait for the moment when it all falls apart.
Season 3 of Black Mirror is now available to stream on Netflix, and a trio of our writers (Sean Fallon, Katherine B. Shelor, and Jack Godwin) have stared into the dark depths of their screens and will tell you about all the wonders they have seen.
Season 3, Episode 1
Directed by Joe Wright
Written by Charlie Brooker, Rashida Jones, and Michael Schur
I have a weird fixation with Google reviews. It started a few weeks ago when I was looking for directions for an upcoming road trip, and I noticed that a truck stop McDonald’s on our route had over 500 reviews next to it. Of course, I straightaway went to the one star reviews and was amazed at how petty and furious they were. After all, this is a truck stop fast food place. You’ve been on the road a few hours, so really you’re stopping there to pee, stretch, and shove a burger in your face. No one should be expecting fine dining. My fixation grew and I started looking at other places that I felt didn’t require reviewing, and I found more and more. People love to rate things. They love to have their say and Google reviews has made it easier to vent their anger without having to actually confront anyone or do anything. This rating culture expands outwards. When you take an Uber at the end of the trip you can give your driver a star rating and he can do the same. A mutually beneficial arrangement so that you can try and keep bad drivers honest and they can make sure that bad customers don’t get picked up.
Nosedive takes this and completely blows it up. What if every time you interacted with a person you gave them a rating? What if the amount of likes your Facebook post got denoted your place in society? The world that Bryce Dallas Howard lives in is a stark, pastel, Instagram filter of a world in which everyone is unerringly polite out of fear of losing stars and status. Contact lenses let you see the average rating of each person and the upper echelons of society are for the 4.5s and above, while everyone below a 3 is not worth bothering with.
As always, Charlie Brooker, this time joined in writing duties by Rashida Jones and Michael Schur, doesn’t just give you a concept and let that do the work. The concept helps to shape and push a great story about Howard’s obsession with upping her stars and the lengths she will go to to get into the high 4s. I would give you more information about the plot but that would spoil the fun.
Finally, it is always amazing to me how Brooker manages to make this show not seem condescending. The target of the satire is people obsessed with likes and retweets and shares, i.e. us, and yet this and other episodes, never feel as though they’re being written by someone who thinks he’s better than us. Brooker simply takes the world as it is now and injects it with adrenaline straight to the heart, and we just hope that the things we’re dreading don’t happen. Or at least that they aren’t as bad as we think they’re going to be.
Featured Image: Netflix