In our current social climate, it’s easy to feel like we’re living in an episode of Black Mirror. If you feel overwhelmed, you are definitely not alone. To de-stress, I would highly suggest diving into the Netflix series as it gives us a taste of dystopia removed from our present circumstances. It’s oddly comforting. If you don’t know where to start, I have compiled a list of my favorite episodes for you to check out! Spoilers not included.
5. Nosedive (Season 3, Episode 1)
In this Black Mirror episode, one’s social media rating effects virtually every aspect of their lives. Simple, everyday interactions like buying a coffee offer opportunities to boost one’s rankings. Our female protagonist finds herself unable to purchase the house of her dreams due to her sub-par status. When she is invited to her highly-ranked childhood friend’s wedding, she realizes the amazing opportunity she has to be rated by A-list guests. As you can probably expect, the trip doesn’t go as planned. This episode made my top 5 because it reflects the very real pressures that social media puts on users. Granted, I can’t imagine us ever getting to this extreme reality.
4. Playtest (Season 3, Episode 2)
If you love virtual-reality gaming, get ready for this Black Mirror favorite of mine. The episode follows an American man traveling throughout Europe. When he finds himself short on cash, he consults an app that offers odd-jobs to people looking for work. He decides to be a test subject for a revolutionary new gaming system that functions similarly to virtual reality games. The catch? He doesn’t need a headset. By implanting a chip into the back of his neck, game controllers are able to manipulate what he sees and experiences. Let’s just say that the thrills get a little too real.
3. Arkangel (Season 4, Episode 2)
If your mom is anything like mine, she somehow knows everything. I don’t know how, but she does. In this episode of Black Mirror, that motherly instinct is taken to the extreme. “Arkangel” is a product marketed to parents as a way to ensure the safety of their children. What is “Arkangel,” you ask? It’s a device that, once implanted, allows parents to see through the eyes of their children. Additionally, the parent can block violent or scary situations from the view of the child, leaving a gray shadow where the problematic images would be. Basically, your mom can live inside your head and control your perceptions of the world. As I’m sure you can imagine, things get weird.
2. Black Museum (Season 4, Episode 6)
Wow, this episode has a lot to unpack. In this Black Mirror favorite, protagonist Nish finds herself at a gas filling station with a museum that boasts rare criminal artifacts. The owner, Rolo, explains that he used to be a recruiter for experimental medical technology. As Nish explores the museum, Rolo tells her of three horrifying stories involving a hair net, a toy monkey and a conscious hologram. I won’t delve deeper into this one because you really just need to see for yourself. This is one of my favorites because the writers were so creative with the ideas of consciousness and terror. Not going to lie, it might have made me feel light headed at one point.
1. USS Callister (Season 4, Episode 1)
Finally, we have arrived at my favorite Black Mirror episode of all time. I don’t even know how to describe this one without giving too much away. It seems that there’s a surprise at every corner. So, I’ll simply leave you with the Netflix description: “Capt. Robert Daly presides over his crew with wisdom and courage. But a new recruit will soon discover nothing on this spaceship is what it seems.” I promise, you have no idea how crazy this gets.
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