A Review of Black Mirror Season 5
Black Mirror is, without a doubt, one of the best series that’s on TV at the moment.
It does exactly what it says on the tin; it’s a reflection of our society told through our technology. It can be brilliant and right on the point, but sometimes, like many stories, it can miss the mark.
Some of these may not be spoiler-free, so I would encourage you watch the season before reading on!
Rachel, Jack & Ashley Too
The first episode I watched, purely because it was the one I’d seen the most hype around. Unfortunately, that’s all it was; hype.
Rachel, Jack & Ashley Too sees teen super fan, Rachel, receive a small robot for her birthday that mimics the personality of her favourite singer, Ashley O. We also have Ashley O’s narrative, as she struggles to keep up her persona despite wanting to resist the demands of her aunt/manager.
This episode didn’t feel like a Black Mirror episode. It felt like Miley Cyrus wanted to be in a Black Mirror episode and for it to be about fame, and then they wrote it around that.
I’m probably completely wrong; they may have written the story and thought it would be ironic to have a pop star play the fictional pop star. But to me, it felt like they got Miley Cyrus cast first, and then came up with a shallow message about the pressures of fame and the dangers of fandom. Neither messages were well thought through, and the story had no point. Maybe the message was ‘pop bad, rock good’, which is entirely subjective anyway and depends on the context. To be honest, the pop music and the rock music in this episode were bad, so *shrugs*.
They even put Miley Cyrus in a wig. We get it. It’s Hannah Montana.
I had a mixed reaction to Striking Vipers.
Did it blow me away? Not really. Did it make me feel hollow and empty like most Black Mirror stories? Absolutely not. What it did, instead, was make me chuckle slightly, and hope for an ending that didn’t happen.
This is the first episode since San Junipero where viewers would argue that there are LGBTQ+ characters in the story. Now, while San Junipero was explicitly gay and made me cry rainbow tears, Striking Vipers was a lot more questionable.
I don’t think I’d ever say Charlie Brooker sets out to make LGBTQ+ episodes. He’s not ticking boxes, and he’s not forcing anything. Sexuality in fiction isn’t, and should never be forced. However, Striking Vipers could have been so much more than what it was. It held back on what would have been a fantastic exploration into sexuality and the future of the dating (and gaming) world. But instead, it came off as a bit of a joke and more of a silly thing that the characters are experiencing. All the while having explicit straight sex scenes while still getting to call it gay.
But the game aesthetics were pretty cool I guess.
Now here is a classic Black Mirror episode.
While still not as iconic as White Bear, Hated in the Nation and San Junipero (in my opinion), it holds the essence of Black Mirror before it came onto Netflix.
The message itself is a simple one, but with enough heartache and self-reflection that it doesn’t fall flat. And as always, Andrew Scott is incredible as protagonist, Chris.
It has a similar theme to previous episodes such as The National Anthem, which many might consider does better at making the theme darkly humorous, but it still tight rope walks the line between funny and sad while leaning towards sad a bit more.
Overall, this wasn’t my favourite season. Many claim that Black Mirror has become more American and therefore lack luster to British viewers since it was released on Netflix. However, I still think Black Mirror can make a hit, but unfortunately, you have to dig a little to find it.
What’s your favourite Black Mirror episode ever? One that you keep going back to or one you can never watch again?