Why Black Mirror Season 6 Shouldn’t Build On The Last Three Years

The title of black mirror has two meanings. First, it references the reflective surface of a turned off screen, nodding to the technological paranoia that runs through nearly every episode. Second, it might as well be Charlie Brookerthe mission statement of. As a satirist, he fully exposes the darkest and ugliest qualities of humanity: our pettiness, our complacency, and our seemingly limitless capacity for self-destruction. Just like its anthology ancestor The twilight zone, black mirror was praised for his insight into the modern condition, as well as his foreknowledge of what is to come. But that doesn’t really predict the future, no matter what David Cameron might have done to that poor pig. Instead, it shows the way things strength leave if the best angels in our collective nature don’t win – which, of course, they rarely do.


The upcoming sixth season of black mirror is his first in three years, and in his absence he’s been given enough material to last another century. Just under a year after the fifth season was released on Netflix, a global pandemic has forced the world into isolation and technology has become the only way to communicate with each other. For at least six months, life was lived in an ersatz half-reality, work meetings and birthdays lived through video calls with bad microphones and poor lighting. On top of that, social media has allowed the spread of widespread misinformation about vaccines and safety measures that likely made the pandemic worse. And even outside of the most obvious world events, each week brings more examples of social media malfunctioning that could make for solid episodes.

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It’s here that black mirrorInsight becomes a sort of double-edged sword. It is one of television’s most important works of social commentary on technology, as well as on modern life in general. black mirror has become shorthand for a certain type of paranoid, techno-dystopian vibe, which is becoming more prevalent in our reality with each passing day. It would be weird if that doesn’t riff on Zoom a bit. But at the same time, while the show has never been exactly subtle, it sometimes slips into simple obviousness. black mirror is at its strongest when it looks like a story that involved technological commentary, rather than a story built around technological commentary.

Daniel Laveryin a humorous play for the deceased The Toastsummarized what he and others black mirror detractors thought of the show in one concise sentence: “what if phones, but too many.” From his point of view, black mirror used overworked melodrama and heavy, pretentious trappings – expressed here through parody episode titles including “Grendel’s Mother Visits at Tea Time” and “Marie Templeton’s Last Flight” – to make reassemble obsolete observations on television and smartphones. black mirror is a much more thoughtful show than the play implies, and if nothing else Brooker seems to have a sense of humor about it. “What if phones, but too many” appears as a trending article in the episode “Hated in the Nation”, and Brooker wrote “Playtest” in an attempt to take the sentence to its logical conclusion. But the joke also touches on something real: black mirrorThe weaker episodes all feel like they started with “What if [x]but too much.

“Men Against Fire”, for example, tackles augmented reality. While its release in the middle of the Pokemon Go the craze was coincidental, the episode’s clichéd runtime felt like the result of a late-night brainstorming session. “Smithereens” is about thinly veiled versions of social media apps causing a hostage crisis, but it never expands the idea much further. And “The Waldo Moment” tries to tackle populism and personality cult politics, but its ideas never grow much beyond, “those bozos in politics, I tell you.” Having an obvious premise isn’t a bad thing. black mirrorThe best episodes of “Nosedive” or “Be Right Back” can, for example, be reduced to one-sentence elevator pitches. The weakest episodes, however, are those with specific axes to grind.

The better episodes of black mirror, on the other hand, go in their own direction, guided by themes and commentaries, but not beholden to them. “USS Callister” is a clever and chilling look at how tech culture coddles the male ego, but it’s also a thrilling star trek tribute as I have no mouth and I have to scream – and if the viewer prefers it that way, that’s all it takes. “The Whole Story of You” is a great relationship drama that’s set in motion by a memory recall device, but it’s the characters that take center stage rather than the technology. And “San Junipero”, no doubt black mirror, is almost closer to fantasy than science fiction, based on technology that is (as far as we know) physically impossible. But that doesn’t make it any less sweet, or any less necessary for the show as a whole. Before “San Junipero”, black mirror was cataloged as pure depressing; thereafter, the show became less predictable, and therefore more interesting. Granted, sometimes the happiest episodes that came later felt a bit forced, like with “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too,” but they’re always a valuable reminder that all is not the worst case scenario.

This does not mean that any attempt black mirror done to address the last three years is doomed to failure. Brooker may not be the shrewdest writer, but he’s certainly one of the most imaginative minds in television right now, and presenting his ideas will no doubt be interesting. Outraged, black mirror was never too concerned about what people might think; it is, after all, the series that had the Prime Minister have sex with a pig live on TV for its first episode. But in an increasingly austere and paranoid world, black mirror should tell the audience something they don’t already know. The real TikTok is bad enough.