Impressions: Black Mirror Season One

The choice to watch this show was not really my own. I happened to be around others when they decided to give it a go and I was pulled in. I’ve heard about it, but largely heard that it was a difficult show to watch at times. It’s comparison to other shows I love (such as Twilight Zone) appealed to me, but seemed a bit unreasonable. Having gotten through the first season (all three episodes) and given myself time to digest what I experienced, I find myself able to say that I get what the show is and find it important, but unsure that I can say I like it. By this I don’t mean it’s bad, or that I even dislike it, just that it’s a challenging show and “liking” implies something I am not sure I feel.

The comparison to Twilight Zone is something I can understand, although it would be largely misleading for many people. Each episode is stand alone and deals directly with the human condition. Generally speaking there is a twist or some sort of overall hit you in the face moment. This is in fact very much like Twilight Zone. Black Mirror however puts it’s fears toward technology, and at least as far as the first season, takes a decidedly darker look at what we are as people and what we might become.

I very nearly did not want to watch after the first episode because it bothered me to such a degree. The first episode The Princess of Britain is kidnapped and the Prime Minister is told he must have sex with a pig on live television to see her returned alive. The episode is very little about the Prime Minister’s choices and more about the response of the people. With no regard to the safety of the Princess or the choice the Prime Minister has to make people take this information, spread it, and form opinions. Not only that but people claim to be disgusted by the situation, yet they take an active role in it’s development. People in the media, random citizens, even those in the government are constantly pushing themselves more deeply into the story and influencing how it will turn out. Also no one looks away at any point. They continue to consume the capture videos, they push the Prime Minister to give into the capture’s demands, and they simply don’t stop.

I choose to focus so much on this episode because it is to me a perfect highlight of what this show is. It holds a mirror (ha) up to people, and gives a very depressing image of who we are. The people in this episode might behave horrifically, but they seem very true to human nature as we are currently witnessing it. Also, despite how deplorable the actual plot is the show is extremely well done. It had a few plot holes, but it is mostly well written, the pacing was solid, and it was very well shot.

As I said by the end of the first episode I was uncertain if I wanted to continue, but ultimately decided that even though I was so bothered that the message was none the less powerful and thought provoking. After episode one the show did not slow down. Each episode dealt with subject matter that can be troubling and down right uncomfortable, but still managed to make you think when it was over.

Black Mirror is not for everybody. It might not be the first episode, but it is likely that something that is brought up will bother you as a viewer a great deal. The unforgiving way it challenges its viewers is perhaps what makes it stand out so much, and the questions it raises are important. Questions about how much we consume, whether we really have a human response to inhumane situations, and what we are as individuals and becoming as the human race.

So no, I am not sure I will say “I like Black Mirror” I will say that it made me think, was incredibly well done, and when I have had a break from it I am looking forward to seeing what other seasons have to offer.

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