Since its debut in 2011, Black Mirror has become a Netflix phenomenon. It’s creator, Charlie Brooker, successfully chilled us all with 5 seasons of the sci-fi anthology series, leading us into cold alternate realities and realistically dystopian technological advances, enforcing messages about humanity and politics and the toxic power of social media. With recent rumours of a season 6 on the horizon and the constant comments on the likeness of this pandemic-stricken year with an episode of the show, we’ve compiled a list of the best Black Mirror episodes, in case you were in the mood for some satire and stylish skepticism.
Nosedive (s3 ep1)
‘Nosedive’ was an episode that could really hit home, one that everyone could relate to because of its depiction of social media in a future not so far away. Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a young woman in a world where people are publicly rated out of 5 stars for every interaction they have. The episode follows Lacie as she obsessively tries to get a high score, but after a fight with her brother, her interactions become worse and worse, and her score snowballs. Brooker remarked on a lot of the issues with social media in this episode: consumerism, capitalism, the way we seek validation from others, and with the episode’s ranking system paralleling platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Uber, it’s a universally relatable episode for this day and age.
Black Mirror, Nosedive
Be Right Back (s2 ep1)
One of the more romance-based episodes in the anthology, ‘Be Right Back’ explores love, grief, and consumerism, when following her boyfriend’s death, Martha (Hayley Atwell) invests in a program that can mimic him through his social media and digital impressions. Martha becomes infatuated with it, unconsciously channeling all her grief and heartbreak into an unhealthy obsession with this AI version of Ash (her boyfriend), further fuelled by the company’s advertisements and promotions, that eventually convince her to purchase a synthetic replica of Ash, so she can interact with him like he’s alive. Things begin to unravel when Martha realises he can’t replace the real Ash, enforcing the message of how soulless social media is: how personality traits and interests can be exaggerated or suppressed on social media. The episode is devastating, heart-breaking, and slightly scary all at once, with artistic direction and great actors.
Black Mirror, Be Right Back
Hated In The Nation (s3 Ep6)
At nearly 90 minutes, this episode is practically a full-blown movie. The story follows a detective in a UK not so different from ours, investigating some mysterious deaths. It has almost all of the traits of a British crime drama, with Brooker’s dark flair and a sci-fi storyline. Without us spoiling it for you, this episode draws a hypothetical about the potential power of empty death threats and violent comments on the internet and the oppressive mob mentality of a social media nation – in a way, it’s a subtle cyberbullying lesson for adults and leaves us thinking about ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’. A great plot, great actors, and, as always, there’s something to take away from it.
Black Mirror, Hated In The Nation
The Entire History Of You (s1 ep3)
‘The Entire History Of You’ is one of those episodes that really shows the incredible minds of Black Mirror’s creators, as their ingenious thoughts of the technological future are almost unimaginable to the rest of us. The particular future in this episode is one with “grains” – an implant that captures every single second of the day and saves it, so that you can replay any memory of exactly how it was inventive right? The story is focused on Liam, a man that becomes a victim of his own obsessive and unrelenting examinations of his life, as he starts to question his wife’s faithfulness. The “grains” prove to be detrimental in Liam’s case but are relied upon by the government, services, and employers, and so it becomes another Black Mirror example of technology vs humanity. The episode kind of makes you glad to have the simple ability to forget.
Black Mirror, The Entire History Of You
Hang the DJ (s4 ep4)
This is one of Black Mirror’s rare feel-good episodes, and now that we’ve told you, you don’t have to watch it so tensely. It is one of those “life is a simulation” types, but it is in the best way possible, as it follows two people in a dating community that predetermines the duration and subjects of your romantic relationships, and although they seem perfect for each other, they only get 12 hours together. The ideas in the episode parallel the current trends in dating: online dating, constant dating, matchmaking, and option paralysis – the inability to make a decision when presented with a wide range of choices. The episode is romantic, thought-provoking and, unusually for Brooker, optimistic.
Black Mirror, Hang the DJ
Black Museum (s4 ep6)
‘Black Museum’ is the perfect episode for Black Mirror fans, as not only does it follow the common brief of shock, technology, and macabre horror, but it features so many easter eggs and more obvious references to previous episodes. Every episode is practically linked together by this museum in the middle of nowhere, who’s rather creepy curator (Douglas Hodge), tells traveler stories about his technological recruitments and prototypes as they walk around the stuffy gallery, eventually coming to the museum’s most sinister attraction. There’s no real message to this episode, but it’s absolutely the most Black Mirror-y Black Mirror so far.
Black Mirror, Black Museum
Words by Daisy Greetham