I love short stories. Because it tells stories in small, quick bursts that allow a person to quickly get a hold of what a story wants to confront. Be it a romance, a story about two quarreling lovers, or a future dystopia – short stories can create a premise and quickly fill it in, confronting a major social or political issue, or to reach out and pull some heart strings.
However, personally, I’ve (poorly) written some of my own short stories, dealing with darker premises and so, it delighted me quickly when I finally started watching Black Mirror on Netflix. After hearing a lot of good things about it, I dug out some free time and got to watching. And I instantly fell in love with it for its almost r/writingprompts style of storytelling.
So, without further ado, let’s just talk about it for a while and review the entire first season without spoiling anything much.
Season 1, Episode 1: The National Anthem
Rating 7.5/10. This was very interesting when I first saw it as it was a political-ish episode. The premise being the prime minister of the state (akin to the power held by the president in the USA) has to commit a lewd sexual act on live TV to appease the kidnapper of the beloved princess of the Royal Family so she’d be returned unharmed.
The whole issue is wondering whether the prime minister would concede to the request and actually do it to save the princess or let her die. Although there were many issues being addressed, I think the important message was to the people within the governments of our current society. A lot of power dynamics are also explored within the story, especially when the deadline was to be met.
In the end, it was a strong start for a series that hoped to deal with this kind of smaller, hour-long or so episodes and this first episode caught my attention for sure.
Season 1: Episode 2: Fifteen Million Merits
Rating: 8.5/10. This story was, truth be told, confusing to me at first. Initially, the synopsis told me it was about a girl who enters a singing competition to escape a slave-like existence but when I watched it through, it became much clearer.
I applaud this episode for using its technological dystopian future to tell a story where humans are akin to mere batteries at the lower half of society, cycling on a ‘exercise bike’ like machine to power the technology for others in the upper half, where they are mostly celebrities. And after the main character heard the aforementioned girl in the synopsis did the story come to light… and it was somewhat hard to watch.
A story about the deconstruction of society and how we consume media and how much we are shaped by it is truly discomforting really, reflecting on how much of it IS already permeating through our own pop culture and mainstream media. It provoked a lot more thought than the previous episode because it really confronted the viewer and I have to say I really enjoyed it.
It was the longest of the 3 episodes in the first season, but I enjoyed the use of the technology premise in telling a story.
Season 1: Episode 3: The Entire History of You
Rating: 10/10. This story hit me a lot harder than it should have. It’s a story in which the premise is just ‘society but in the near future’, where everyone is now implanted with a chip that can record all memories that you experience and allow you to relive them like a video at any time.
The story focuses on a man and his wife and a house party they attended. The guy sees a man his wife talks to during the party and it became a story about the suspicious husband and affairs.
It hit me like a truck after watching it for 2 distinct reasons:
- Anyone can relate to how much they’d focus on the great memories in their life by recording them on cameras, their phones, and more. That is the result of our social media-centric times and it is horrifying because this technology feels like the one that could most likely happen in the not-so-distant future.
- The story of the couple between the husband and his wife is something happening now and it is very sad when two lovers have to confront one another about possible affairs. And yet, anyone can watch this and relate to it very very well.
And once again, the episode really made great use of its technology introduced in the story and uses it as a reflection for our society and it really tugged at my heart uncomfortably but in a good way.
I merely shared a lot of my thoughts/first impressions because a lot of Black Mirror’s strength lies in getting the audience to relate to the story so opinions will differ. Of course, this is all just the first season yet it has gripped by interest so I’ll be here and continuing to watch.
So, I won’t dress my review up but instead ask for you to watch it and judge it for yourselves and to let this be less like a review and more of a recommendation for a wonderful series on Netflix. Until next time!