Hey and happy 2018!
On my birthday I tuned into Netflix and saw that Netflix had gotten me a lil’ birthday present: season four of Black Mirror! Black Mirror is easily one of my favourite shows, not just on Netflix but, like, ever. The acting is almost too believeable, and the writing is always an insightful and creative take on the modern world and the pervasiveness of technology in it. It took only three days for me to binge watch the six episode season, and like a true fangirl I’veen raving about it to anyone that’ll listen to my too-excited rambling. As per usual, I was left utterly fascinated and impressed, so much so that I spent hours reading reviews about each episode after finishing the season—picture a teenage boy on Reddit and there’s pretty much how I looked and felt.
My favourite episode this season is tied between Arkangel and USS Callister. Both the episodes speak distinctly to common phenomena: helicopter parents and individuals who choose to live in a virtual reality rather than real reality. I thought USS Callister was a touch too funny for my liking (I don’t like comedies, unless they’re stand-ups); USS Callister was almost like the last season of Game of Thrones in that pop culture and a lightness or funniness that hasn’t generally been part of GoT or Black Mirror was randomly inserted. Arkangel struck me on a more personal level: the episode is about a mom whose child briefly goes missing at a young age and the effect that experience has on both the child and the mother as the years go on. Also, Rosemarie Dewitt is just a stellar actress so that also did it for me.
I didn’t notice this until I read it in a review afterwards, but this season is full of strong, relatable female leads. With all the news of sexual harassment in the entertainment industry and the Weinstein allegations, there’s been a lot of discussion lately about the experience of women in Hollywood and in entertainment more generally. After I thought about it, it was obviously great that Black Mirror had selected so many amazing female leads. But it just wasn’t something that stuck out—what stuck out what the exceptional acting of all the leads, but sex didn’t pop out until I really looked at the season. The way I saw it, each actress portrayed her character magnificiently, and the actor/actress and character pairing seemed spot on. According to executive producer Annabel Jones, “We don’t even think about it from a gender perspective and I hope that’s progress. It’s more that we explore the best story and the best way to tell it.” (Taken the Digital Spy’s interview with Annabel Jones) Few of the characters need to be played by either a male or female, more importantly the personality traits of the character in question will speak to a particular actor or actress as a person regardless of their sex.
*Spoilers below of past seasons*
Season 4 offered more positive perspectives than any other season so far in Black Mirror. If you fangirl over Black Mirror at any opportunity that arises and word-vomit all you know about the episodes like me, then you’ll know that Black Mirror often has sad and frightening endings that point toward the unanticipated, negative effects of technology. For example, the relatable American traveller we cheered on and loved who ends up dead, the amazing bee technology that gets hacked and kills people, the episode about a new system of justice where the criminal undergoes harrowing experiences as their punishment.
Not in this season though. This season has happy endings, and that’s just not something I’m used to as a follower of Black Mirror. But I like it. Nope, just kidding. I love it. The show has still maintained it’s creative critique of technology and its unexpected impact on society, and the creativity we’re so used to in all the other seasons comes through just as strongly in this one.
10/10 would recommend to anyone, but especially those in need of a solid binge session. If you’ve already seen it, what’s your favourite episode been this season? And what did you think of the endings—is anyone else liking the positive endings like I am, or is that just a me thing?