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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

TV Series Review

Scarlett O'Hara told us, "Tomorrow is another day." Little Orphan Annie told us, "The sun'll come out tomorrow." Black Mirror tells us that tomorrow is coming … and it'll likely bring with it sentient smartphones that will grow opposable thumbs to strangle you as you sleep.

Well, OK, perhaps that's a bit of an overstatement. This Netflix import doesn't suggest that your new iPhone is plotting to murder you. Yet.

But this series does caution we may get there if we're not careful. The wonderful technology we welcome into our homes and lives doesn't come alone, it tells us: Our cherished devices bring along problematic company as well.

Open the Pod Bay Doors, Hal.

Black Mirror, which began in Britain in 2011 and came to Netflix in 2015, is essentially a modern, tech-obsessed rendition of The Twilight Zone. Just as Rod Serling sometimes used his classic sci-fi series to explore some of the most pressing issues of the 1960s, Mirror wants to hold up a, well, mirror, to our own tech-preoccupied society and show us a warped view of where it might all lead.

The results are rarely pretty.

One episode might feature a future in which most of humanity mindlessly peddles stationary bikes to generate power, their only hope of a better life laying in becoming a reality television star. Another gives us a scenario where convicted killers star in their own reality television shows: Their memories are wiped clean and they're pursued by "killers" themselves. Still another posits a world in which we all have tiny implants installed in our brains that can replay our favorite memories. A couple is shown having passionless sex as their minds are engaged in memories of spicier, earlier trysts.

"If technology is a drug—and it does feel like a drug—then what, precisely, are the side effects?" Charlie Brooker, one of the show's creators, told The Guardian. "This area—between delight and discomfort—is where Black Mirror … is set. The 'black mirror' of the title is the one you'll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone."

As was the case with The Twilight Zone, it's all done with a constantly rotating cast. The show's reputation is such that big-name actors sometimes appear. (Jon Hamm, for instance, appeared on a Black Mirror holiday special). But for the most part, the actors are fairly anonymous. And perhaps that's by design: so much easier for viewers to slip into the story.

Dark Reflections

On one level, Black Mirror sounds like it'd be Plugged In's favorite show. Both this ministry and the Netflix series, after all, suggest that we should approach entertainment and technology with caution. Black Mirror doesn't deny tech's marvelous characteristics or inarguable usefulness, but it does suggest that all this pixelated wonder comes with a cost. It strikes a warning note when it comes to entertainment, too, and how we're apt to absorb what the culture peddles without thinking about it. In a way, it's effectively and boldly preaching a message of discernment.

But while Black Mirror upbraids our culture for not thinking critically, it also turns away from its own content concerns—of which, alas, there are many.

The show can be seductively, uncomfortably sexual, both in its themes and its presentation. Storylines have featured everything from pornography to bestiality. While it seems to avoid outright R-rated nudity, it gets as close as it can at times. And though Black Mirror doesn't rely on gratuitous violence to draw viewers—again, think of the old, cerebral Twilight Zone—when the script calls for blood, the camera doesn't shirk from its flow. Perhaps the biggest content issue, however, is not so much what we see, but what we hear. Language can be outrageously foul: A recent episode included nearly 40 f-words in a 75-minute show.

And Black Mirror doesn't just take its cue from the dark screens all around us today: It also feels like a nod to scrying, the ancient occultic practice of looking into some sort of reflective surface—often a dark one—to see into the future. Netflix's show taps into the same appeal that scrying might've had centuries ago; the dark desire to peak into tomorrow. But the visions Black Mirror gives us can be black indeed, both in their stories and the content they come with.

Yes, this Netflix anthology can show us uncomfortable, worthwhile truths. But at what cost?

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Dec. 28, 2018: "Bandersnatch"
Black Mirror: Dec. 28, 2017 "USS Callister"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Varies by episode.

Director

Distributor

Network

Netflix

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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