Black Mirror is the perfect 2021 Christmas watch on Netflix

Each episode of black mirror contains its own dark little world, but the show is known for its recurring symbols that connect each storyline to an interconnected universe, from the “White Bear” symbol to Waldo the Bear and “San Junipero”/St Juniper’s Hospital. But it could be argued that another inextricable motive for black mirror is Christmas time.

Since the show’s launch in December 2011, two seasons and two specials have aired during the holiday season. One of these specials is Bandersnatch, the interactive film about a young game developer in 1984 (get it?) adapting a “choose your own adventure” style book. (The film’s five main endings give varying degrees of meta, and like a greedy kid who jumped on too many candy canes, I’m sure plenty of viewers came back to check them all out.)

“White Christmas”, one of black mirrorThe best episodes of, and its most popular, focus on three interconnected stories: the three ghosts of Christmas, if you will. Each story subverts features of the holiday season – technology (the most common gift category), “cookies” (digital clones of people stored in small egg-shaped gadgets, much like smart devices, another popular gift), family breakdown and estrangement – ​​to illuminate her darker side like holiday lights. It ends with one of the characters stuck in a snow globe, having to relive Christmas and the mistakes he made over and over again. For one in seven people who hate Christmas, it’s a fate worse than being stuck in an elevator with Mariah Carey’s Christmas hits.

Even the black mirror episodes that don’t explicitly reference the season of giving have surprises like an advent calendar: a Christmas tree is visible in the background of an “Arkangle” scene giving a new twist to parents’ fears about what their children are exposed to. The events of “USS Callister” take place, yes, in a space game simulation, but the people trapped there belong to the same game company that is preparing to break off work for the Christmas holidays.

It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas in “USS Callister”
Picture: Netflix

But it’s more than just a backdrop. black mirror is uniquely positioned to criticize what is touted to us as the most wonderful time of the year, yet often brings out the worst in many of us. “Traditional” Christmas pop culture is riddled with toxic men who look like those in “White Christmas” and “USS Callister,” and bad mothers like Mary, who plants a surveillance chip in her daughter’s brain in ” Archangel”. Layer this with the overall theme of black mirror – to examine how technology has changed our lives, most often for the worse – and if our parents and grandparents complaining about young people spending too much time on our devices is any indication, that too has had an impact on the giving season.

This year is set to be a Christmas meltdown to end all Christmas meltdowns, with the supply chain screwing up our gift plans and the first holiday homecoming for many (as the pandemic continues to unfold), meaning tensions will be high. But people who work in retail, who are of non-Christian background, who don’t have family or who aren’t on good terms with them or who don’t celebrate the holiday (that’s me) have known this for a long time. long time.

Retail and service workers face abuse from customers and employers, and mask and vaccine mandates have created additional tension. The pressure to make up for last year’s “lost” Christmas is tantamount to hip pocket pressure, with Americans expecting to spend more on Christmas gifts this year than in the previous 20 years, and more than half of shoppers are going into debt with “buy now pay later” easier than ever. The binary of increased waste and food insecurity around the holidays is stark, highlighting the inequality of American life more than any other And while the Tories push a “war on Christmas” agenda with any mention of the secular “holiday” rather than the birth of Christ (the exact date of which there is some consternation), but the copious decorations and the holy Christmas boss Mariah’s greatest hits from Thanksgiving – and sometimes even earlier, despite the fact that Hanukkah started the Sunday after Thanksgiving this year! – indicate that Christmas is indeed staying put.

Photos of people through a tech lens, with people appearing as gray blurs and somewhat pixelated in a still image from the episode

Picture: Netflix

We indeed live in the darkest timeline, and it’s all reflected back to us in the ink glass screens of smart devices under the tree this Christmas from which black mirror derives its name. black mirror is at its best when it criticizes things that closely affect many of our lives: the use of technology and social media, the disintegration of our relationships and, indeed, society. In our own lives, the pressure of the holiday season serves a similar purpose to black mirror, increasing tension, resentment, and division, even for those who spend all year making their list and double-checking it. It’s no wonder creator Charlie Brooker said he has no plans to make any new episodes for the foreseeable future. (Salon representatives declined to comment for this article.) There are definitely more nasty holiday deals this year than ever before – movies like silent night, a disturbing national thriller about extended family reuniting for the holidays; or HBO Max station elevenwhere a viral pandemic hits the world just before Christmas.

But if you fancy a familiar movie to kick off once the presents have been unwrapped, dinner has been served, and the leftovers are put away for another day, you can always pull out another one. Alone at home watch an episode of black mirror. After all, it’s the season.