All Has Been Quiet For Charlie Brooker’s Historical Tech Horror Series black mirror since its truncated fifth season of three episodes on Netflix in 2019. The interactive film of the series Black Mirror: Bandersnatch briefly caused a stir in 2018, but it’s been a long time since the series had the impact or cachet it had in the glory days of its beloved 2016 episodes “San Junipero” and “Nosedive.” , let alone the shock value it had when the series first premiered with the searing political satire “The National Anthem” in 2011.
Variety is now reporting that a sixth season of the show is underway on Netflix, which has been black mirrorsince 2016. It also offers insight into why Season 6 was delayed – Brooker and his creative partner Annabel Jones left their former production company, and it took them a while to regain the rights that would allow them to to chase black mirror. The trade publication didn’t cite specific sources, but says a season 6 is currently in the cast, will have more episodes than season 5, and they’ll be longer, with each episode being “treated as an individual film”.
This wording leaves a lot of room for coverage. black mirror episodes have always been “treated as” individual films, each setting up a different world. Usually, episodes take place in a future featuring new technology that is an iteration of familiar technology from our time, such as the society-wide rating systems of “Nosedive” or the hunter-killer robot of ” Metalhead,” based on Boston Dynamic’s dog. -bots. But if that quote represents a more literal approach, with longer episodes, maybe that’s exactly what black mirror must remain relevant.
When the series first launched in 2011, it was considered hugely ambitious, given how extreme and well-crafted some of its bleak future visions were. But no matter how unique and well-watched the individual episodes were, the series began to suffer from a sense of repetition, with each new episode finding the scary elements in a core technology. Writer Daniel Mallory Ortberg summed up the show’s review in a devastating tweet: “What if phones, but too much?” (The account associated with that tweet is now gone, but incorporated the thought into an equally dismissive post for The Toast.)
With so many horror movies copied black mirrortechnology’s specific tone and “everything new will kill you one way or another” approach, individual black mirror the episodes started to feel a bit too dated and familiar to be scary and shocking like the best ones were. Brooker has since moved in a more positive direction – his most recent Netflix projects were the comedy special Dead to 2020 and the wacky interactive cartoon Burglar cat. But if he returns to black mirrorthe movie-length episodes might buy him time to leverage more of the world-building that has always been the show’s strong point, and spend more time on character-building, which is often its weakest.
The biggest problem with many black mirror episodes is that they often take a blurred area approach, relying on an oppressive atmosphere and twists of the third act. But a more character-centric approach, built around how people navigate black mirror problems, instead of focusing on the problems themselves, could give the series new strength and new life. Bandersnatch is innovative in the way it used its choose your own adventure options, but it also tells a fuller story (or series of stories, depending on how you ‘play’ it) than most black mirror episodes, and this is a possible model for the depth of a black mirror story might take.
Admittedly, that still leaves Brooker and his writers competing with the types of black mirror copycat films that have proliferated since the series launched – friendless and its sequel, Party, Hatching, And so on. But there’s always room to do the genre well, and a broader palette might help.
No launch date has yet been announced for black mirror season 6.