So many things on new on Netflix in the last month, but you can put everything off to the side for now except for one: “Black Mirror”. If you haven’t seen the once British-made TV show, you can start now! And if you ain’t got time to try to understand British accents, then you can skip right ahead to Season 3, which Netflix (an American company) made here in America.
“Black Mirror” is ground I have covered in the past, but just to give you a quick background if you don’t know, it’s a “Twilight Zone”-esque show where every episode is different, and relates freaky funny-at-times but heartbreaking stories about the potential future of technology in each episode. None of the same actors and actress have appeared in more than one episode as far as I know. Season 3 keeps with the same style and humor as before, mainly because they have the show’s writer and creator Charlie Brooker (not the mayor of Newark, NJ) taking on writing duty for every episode, which he did for all but one in the previous two "series" (British phrasing for season). This time he’s back with six new episodes, but today I’m focusing on the first, which saw Brooker bringing in the seemingly unusual choices of “Parks and Rec”/“The Good Place” creator Mike Schur and former “Parks and Rec” star Rashida Jones to help him write it.
The episode is called “Nosedive” and actually stars Jurassic World actress and high-heel sprinter Bryce Dallas Howard. The episode follows Howard as Lacie as she navigates through a world where social media rankings are an integral part of society. The way this is works is, think of Uber transactions -- at the end, you can rate from 1-5 stars, which is how everybody in this fictionalized world rate each other during interactions and looking at Instagram pictures. The closer you get to an overall 5-star rating, the more of an actual person you are in society and are given the title of “Influencer”. The better your rank, the more perks you get, like discounted mortgages, better jobs, certain restaurants are open to you that are closed to 3-star people… really just life is better for on a luxury level.
(Possible spoilers ahead but I'll do the best I can to not give much away...)
Early on, we see with a different character how falling off in your rating can be pretty terrible for your life. In Lacie’s mind, however, just being a regular person on the sort of higher end in the rankings isn’t enough. She wants an “Influencer” ranking. When a childhood friend of hers, who is now an “Influencer”, calls Lacie to be her maid of honor, opportunity to move up quickly is on the horizon. The rest of the episode shows how hard that can actually be and what it costs. People say the grass is greener on the other side, and this episode really wants to take you there. I’m speaking as vague as I can to not give away what events transpire, but trust me, the things Lacie does will make you cringe before you know it.
Considering past episodes, this wasn’t as dark as it was extremely awkward and uncomfortable, but I mean that in a good way. It had the same tone as past episodes of “Black Mirror”, but “Nosedive” also showed how different Brooker and whomever he decides to work with can make the show. He still has a lot to say about technology, social media, Internet culture, and the human condition. It’s well worth a look, and the ending will make you want to watch more, much like how older episodes made me want to binge watch the whole show.
If I didn’t convince you enough of “Nosedive”, take a listen from the man himself, Mr. Charlie Brooker, about the episode in this quick clip:
Other than that, I’m happy to say that “Black Mirror” is back to its usual darkly-funny-yet-heartbreaking storytelling. Lots of people like to compare “Black Mirror” to “The Twilight Zone”, and even I have done so earlier in this article, but the fact is that “Black Mirror” is a whole other beast. Outside of being a complete anthology sci-fi series, you really can’t compare the two. “Black Mirror” is in a class all its own, and it’s just another gem in this golden age of television that we’re lucky to have.