From digital love stories to full-blown dystopian horror, we’ve selected the five definitive instalments of Black Mirror.
The season four finale of Charlie Brooker’s science fiction anthology show seemingly confirming that a number of these self-contained stories take place within a shared universe. That said, it is entirely possible to watch the whole show in any order, as each instalment tells its own completely self-contained story.
So, if you’re a Black Mirror novice and wondering where to begin here are our five faves to get you started. And don’t worry, we’ll keep it spoiler-free, as half the fun with this show is having no idea where the ‘what if?’ scenario is going.
Imagine if your Uber rating determined where you lived and who you were friends with. That’s the premise of ‘Nosedive’, an aesthetically pleasing outing set in a society where everybody has a ranking from one to five, which can go up or down based on your social media presence and your interactions with people. Fives are treated like celebrities, while lower-ranking citizens are seen as pariahs. When we first meet Bryce Dallas Howard, she’s on her way up in the world, and has just been invited to the social event of the year. Can she maintain this carefully curated existence?
See Also: ‘Fifteen Million Merits’, a dystopian tale where people work for points, and appearing on a reality competition is the only escape from slave-like living conditions.
The Entire History Of You
Imagine you could perfectly recall every moment of your life, and project it onto a screen. You could relive happy times, review footage of job interviews as practise… or you could use it to win arguments. In ‘The Entire History Of You’, thanks to these memories being just a click away, a married couple’s past comes back to haunt them.
See Also: ‘Crocodile’, where a similar memory-capturing technology is used by law enforcement, and ‘Arkangel’, in which an overprotective mother uses a brand new gadget to monitor her daughter at all times.
Nerd nostalgia is at its peak right now, with a brand new Star Trek show on our TV screens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi ruffling the feathers of men who grew up with the franchise, causing all kinds of “feminists are ruining Star Wars!” posts on social media. That angry, entitled, toxic masculinity is at the heart of this smart, satirical space opera, starring Jesse Plemons, Michaela Coel and Cristin Milioti.
See Also: ‘Playtest’, in which a reality-warping new video game spirals out of control.
John Hamm and Rafe Spall star in what is ostensibly a Christmas special, but will hardly have viewers feeling warm and fuzzy. Snowed in at a remote outpost, two men share stories to pass the time. In each of these three interconnecting tales, technology turns tragic… as happens fairly often on Black Mirror.
See Also: ‘Black Museum’, which also weaves a triptych of tales around the horrors brought on by new technology.
Black Mirror is known for pulling off shocking, brutal twists, but ‘San Junipero’ left audiences gobsmacked for a slightly different reason; it’s a sweet love story. Kelly and Yorkie meet in a nightclub in the Eighties, and their connection is instant — but the sunny seaside town of San Junipero isn’t what it appears.
See Also: ‘Hang the DJ’, another Black Mirror romance in which two people fall for each other, despite an all-powerful dating app ruling that they should spend their lives apart.