Black Mirror

(Netflix)

 

Technology rules a dystopian near-future...and sometimes that's a really scary thing.

Starring: Chris Martin Hill, Hannah John-Kamen, Beatrice Robertson-Jones

Genre: Science Fiction, Psychological Drama

Series Summary: “This sci-fi anthology series explores a twisted, high-tech near-future where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.” -Netflix

Show Title: "Nosedive" (Season 3, Episode 1)

Viewer Appeal: Adults, Mature Teens

Here’s a secret: Beneath my sundress-wearing exterior is a girl who absolutely adores bone-chilling television. My closest friends know (but don’t quite understand) my love of being scared. So when my friend Sara recommended Black Mirror to me solely because “it’s some messed up stuff,” I thought I was in for a Netflix binge.

 

But, you guys, I was so wrong! There’s no way I could’ve binged this show because it’s so disturbing I can’t even bring myself to watch more than one episode a day. It’s so alarming because it’s so real. Almost every episode caused me to completely question everything I know, think and feel about technology.

 

But then again, that’s the goal. Black Mirror takes place in a vaguely near future where the technology we have today has developed further to create a dystopic society. Being an anthropology, each of its 13 episodes are an individual and stand-alone story so you can skip around episodes as you want.

 

Nosedive, the first episode in season 3, takes us into a society where every human interaction and every social media post is rated by friends, family, and strangers. Your entire life is summed up in a 5-star rating, which directly impacts the opportunities you have.

 

In this episode, we follow Lacie Pound who is desperately trying to raise her popularity rating from a 4.2 to 4.5 to receive better financing on a house in a luxury neighborhood. She starts looking for chances to receive higher ratings. She hits the jackpot when her childhood best friend Naomi, who’s a solid 4.8, asks her to be the Maid of Honor at her high-class wedding. But through a series of unfortunate mishaps, poor customer service, and a few travel-inducing melt downs, Lacie finds herself at a 2.6 rating and uninvited to the wedding. Desperate, Lacie crashes the wedding, delivers her no longer welcomed speech, and threatens the groom with a cake knife as he tries to take away the microphone. In her attempts to seek social affirmation, Lacie cracks under the pressure, nosediving to the lowest point in her life.

 

What I appreciated most about this episode was the reality behind it. No, our society might not rate each person on a 5-star system (yet), but we do seek confirmation of our identity from our Instagram posts, Snapchat stories, and Facebook status updates. It’s not too farfetched to imagine a world where our existence is rated.

 

Although I think this series is one of the most thought provoking shows out there, I am giving Black Mirror a lower rating than I wish because the series relied too much on adult content (both language and sex) to feel edgy. These add-ons cheapened the storyline which was compelling enough stand on its own.

 

But parents, don’t automatically write the series off due to adult content. Some episodes are lighter on nudity and swearing and I think the ability of the show to challenge our perceptions of technology is valuable, especially for teenagers. With that being said, it’s so important that you don’t green-light the entire series just from watching one episode. This is a series where you should preview each episode before letting your teen watch.

 

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this TV show:

 

• What do you think your 5-star rating would be? Why?

• Do you think there are any benefits with ranking people on a 5-star system?

• How is Lacie’s obsession with her 5-star rating like our desires to get a certain number of likes, followers or subscribers on social media?

 

--LV

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