The Horror Honeys: Black Mirror ~ Season 1 (2011)

Black Mirror ~ Season 1 (2011)

A Horror TV Honey Trepedatious Step into Sci-Fi with Lisa

Unless you've been living under a cultural rock, someone, somewhere, has told you that you MUST watch Black Mirror. Despite what sounded very sci-fi to this non-Whovian, it comes from across the pond and they really seem to know what is up when it comes to good, ne, great television. Really, I had no idea what to expect and that may have been what made it even more compelling for me.

The very first person to suggest this show to me was the lovely Luke or @ElRoseHubbard if you're one of the cool kids on Twitter. He made a real big statement about how it would be cray-cray if I was able to turn it off after the first six minutes. (He didn't use the term cray-cray, obviously, I'm paraphrasing.) I believe it was that very same evening that Domenico Salvaggio (@DomSalvaggio) also suggested it to me. Screenwriter of the horror film DIE, Mr. Salvaggio has yet to steer me wrong when it comes to book and movie recommendations; the man has impeccable taste. Seriously, more people should know his name. Anyway, what could possibly happen within six minutes that would cause me to not move from the television for three hours? Well, I'm not about to be the one to ruin that for you, but believe me when I say a house fire seems the only acceptable reason to turn away from screen once you have pressed play.

In the same fashion as Sherlock's third season, Black Mirror contains only three episodes, but every single moment is fully utilized. An anthology show, each episode of Black Mirror is completely self contained with a beginning, middle, end and a new set of actors and characters for each story. And the stories! Black Mirror has tapped directly into my mostly hate/very little love relationship with technology, social media and it's almost immediate effects on television.

Turn off your devices and go outside for a while!
Television is the original Big Bad when it comes to polluting our brains, influencing and dumbing us down, so it's only fitting that this is what's vilified first.  In "The National Anthem," the Prime Minister is presented with a most unsavory choice. One that he, ultimately, has no power over. The public's opinion is what will decide his fate, but they won't be the ones to live with it. It is the reaction of the public to what they decide for the PM that is truly and utterly shocking. In fact, everything that happens in the last 10 minutes is absolutely riveting and terrible in equal measure and I viewed it with mouth agape, but also found all of it frighteningly plausible.

A Facebook world...
Our second episode, "15 Million Merits,"  presents us with what I firmly believe is the current reality that a lot of people live in. A future where people live in tiny boxes, surrounded by television screens, they pedal on bicycles while watching inane videos and earning points. You are even alerted when someone "likes" something, because that is always super important and relevant to your day. Basically, you earn points based on how far you pedal and what you choose or refuse to watch on the screens that surround you. You can be penalized for not watching the garbage that they are forcing upon you and like all countries these days, there is a live singing competition that "brings everyone together" and offers a host of wonderful possibilities for it's winners. Focusing on Bing and Abi, this episode really resonated with my deep hatred of Facebook. This episode is what Facebook looks like to me. A world where people share opinions that you didn't ask to hear, waste their time interacting with a screen rather than actually doing something, allow advertisements to be forced upon them and buy things that DON'T EVEN EXIST. Tell me, what will you be doing with all of your Farmville cash?

The bit that really hit a nerve, though,was when our gorgeous Abi goes onto that singing competition only to be pressured into showing everyone her tits. Will she do it? Will this young woman be able to stick to her guns or will peer pressure wear her down? She's damned if she does and she's damned if she doesn't and this is the current climate of how women are treated in this brave, new impersonal world. Show me your tits. If you do, you're a slut, but if you don't, you're a prude who doesn't know how to have fun. If you want to get anywhere in this world, you have to sell your body, but you'll be judged later for it. Imagine how confusing this message is to the generation of young women growing up with it. But what happens if, like Bing, you decide to stand up to the entire system? What then? Can any of us really make it out of this with our souls and integrity intact?

The "Entire History of You" delves into the many mysteries of our memories and how we choose to keep them, relive them, rewrite them, forget them and how all of that does or does not influence our present day choices. Much like the internet never forgets any stupid or insensitive thing you've said, every drunk, embarrassing moment captured in a photo or any lame dancing you've been caught doing on video, this episode imagines a future where we have the option to have a chip implanted that records every single thing we experience. Imagine all of your memories are available to you at the touch of a button. Would you relive the really awesome stuff or would you torture yourself by reliving the really awful bits? Unfortunately, it's human nature to be attracted to the negative option. We tend to complain more loudly and more often than we compliment or praise and that's the gist of this story.

Sex is best when you re-live old memories.
Our young couple, Liam and Ffion, are picture perfect and, according to Liam's memories, theirs has been a very successful and lovely reunion. Of course, with any relationship, they have had their bumps in the road and it is the different ways in which each chooses to cope that comes back to haunt them. The thing is, it only haunts Liam because he becomes fixated and has the awful ability to go back and rehash every single memory. They say that we allow our minds to bend memory in order to protect ourselves. Why, oh why, would you deny yourself this luxury? It really is true that some things are best left unsaid and, at times, what you don't know can't hurt you. Before you accuse me of condoning some of the choices made by our characters, my point is that Liam's ultimate outcome, for better or worse, lays squarely on his shoulders. It's frightening to wonder how your current life may be different if you had the capability to go back to a specific moment in life and scrutinize every minute detail. If you look long enough at anything, you will find a fault.

Black Mirror tackles how technology is impacting our daily lives and personal interactions and it's not pretty. Though clearly set at some unspecified time in the future, it feels as though any of these things could be taking place within the next ten years. The human body hasn't even learned how to adapt to drinking milk past adolescence, but we have gone full blast into this technology stuff without ever wondering what the future implications may be. Truly, I find our newly acquired desire to live via monitors and screens heartbreaking, but more than that, it's terrifying to see how quickly we are willing to bend towards technology without questioning it. Black Mirror brings up some genuinely interesting possibilities and it really makes you think, which is wonderful and awful at the same time. So, excuse me while I sit in front of my television screen to watch the second season and then use my phone and computer to Tweet about it and write another review.