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Black Mirror Fails to Live Up to Acclaim

When it comes to Netflix’s hottest sci-fi, don’t believe the hype

Photo by TV Guide (Public Domain)

Photo by TV Guide (Public Domain)

Nathan Fletcher, Staff Reporter

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Netflix has produced many great shows, especially in recent years. House of Cards, Stranger Things and Orange is the New Black have made a name for the streaming company as a legitimate creator of entertainment, not just a distributor.

Now, Black Mirror is attempting to reproduce the same hysteria that is found in the fan bases of these great shows but instead leaves the viewer with a sense of disappointment. The feeling I got after finishing this series can best be described as: “Oh. Is that why people like this show?”

Black Mirror is a sci-fi anthology that attempts to use a variety of stories across multiple settings to explore how the rise of technology will change human interaction. Twitter blew up recently when season four was released, and the show is widely considered to be one of the best on Netflix.

Each episode quickly establishes the protagonist and setting, but often leaves the antagonist and occasionally time period slightly ambiguous until later in the show. This is an interesting dynamic, but it loses its charm after the first couple of times it’s used.

Let me get one thing straight, Black Mirror isn’t cringe-worthy or laughable; from a technical standpoint, it is fairly well produced. The acting is consistently above average, which is difficult for a show with hundreds of characters in total. The special effects aren’t noticeably poor. A few episodes rely too heavily on CGI, but poor CGI is forgivable considering the show is working with a television budget.

Black Mirror is built on the idea that technology dehumanizes people. This is all well and good until you start to see the patterns in the storytelling. You want me to spoil every Black Mirror episode for you?

People are unnecessarily cruel, and sometimes it’s in the future. The show puts on airs, seeming to be deep on a surface level, but lacks any actual depth. The ideas presented are just the illusions of complexity; they typically boil down to “people can use technology to be bad” with the occasional “good people can be driven to do bad things.”

It doesn’t help that pretty much every episode has to incorporate some twist. I’ll admit, a few of the twists were genuinely surprising, but ultimately most of the show can be described as “M. Night Shyamalan with computers.”

The show relies primarily on shock factor to trick its audience into thinking something big is happening. There are actually multiple episodes where the terrorists manipulating the main character act regardless of whether or not the character meets their demands.

These episodes only feel different because of the absurdity of the demands. Black Mirror constantly has the audience going, “Oh! This person that I thought was nice just tried to kill somebody! What a show!”

Essentially, Black Mirror is a poor base idea that is covered with distractions until you forget that the plot is repetitive; the moral is not nearly as deep as it pretends to be, and the only thing keeping you watching is the absurdity of it all.

It frankly left me feeling like I had just wasted my time with no big payoff. Even the most entertaining episodes were mediocre at best. Black Mirror is just trashy American TV with new British pretension.

Nathan Fletcher

Nathan became a member of The Flightline in August of 2017. He is a senior this year, involved in cross country, track, and drama, and can be found watching movies outside of school. You can email him at [email protected]

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Black Mirror Fails to Live Up to Acclaim”

  1. Anonymous on February 14th, 2018 1:32 pm

    I completely and fundamentally disagree with this article. Black Mirror is easily one of my favorite shows. The themes and plot are not repetitive because the base of the show is, for the most part, about technology gone to an extreme. I can think of no two episodes that contain the same storyline or even remotely similar plot twists. The article’s main point is also wrong. It says that the show relies too heavily on unexpected twists when every single well-written story, movie, book, or TV show contains at very least minor surprises. Black Mirror’s are hardly predictable or repetitive, either. Though it is sometimes slightly overplayed, the point of the show is not just for entertainment but to enhance the reader’s perspective on how they view life and especially technology. This article is close-minded and does not look deep into the storylines or symbolism of the show but just for the entertainment purpose.

  2. John Doe on February 14th, 2018 6:45 pm

    Respectfully, the author of this article completely misses the mark of Black Mirror and has an ignorant, closed minded outlook on the show. Rather than tear apart the article itself word for word, allow me to rather offer a few reasons why the show does live up to its hype and is an overall complex, intriguing message. To start, the show is anthology. The fact that you can watch any episode in any order allows for a mini-movie type experience with every episode. In doing so, the episodes also offer certain Easter Eggs as well as an overall futuritic, technological theme to tie the seasons and series together. The show also offers thrills, heartbreaks, and an array of beautiful emotions, all of which are backed by a variety of standout actors, that relate to the well-educated viewers. Finally, one of the best parts of the entire show is that it’s messages are sent in an interpretive style. Most episodes allow for reflection and relation to leave the viewers questioning their own direction of their lives, rather than giving distinct endings at each episode.

    The article above has an outlook on the show that seems rather bias and uneducated, and while I respect the author’s opinion, I strongly disagree with it.

  3. Jon Dough on February 20th, 2018 2:58 pm

    To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Rick and Morty. The humour is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of theoretical physics most of the jokes will go over a typical viewer’s head. There’s also Rick’s nihilistic outlook, which is deftly woven into his characterisation- his personal philosophy draws heavily from Narodnaya Volya literature, for instance. The fans understand this stuff; they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depths of these jokes, to realise that they’re not just funny- they say something deep about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Rick & Morty truly ARE idiots- of course they wouldn’t appreciate, for instance, the humour in Rick’s existential catchphrase “Wubba Lubba Dub Dub,” which itself is a cryptic reference to Turgenev’s Russian epic Fathers and Sons. I’m smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion as Dan Harmon’s genius wit unfolds itself on their television screens. What fools.. how I pity them.

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