The future is bleak—technology rules our lives. This is the message of “Black Mirror,” a groundbreaking dystopian series about the intersection of science fiction and scientific fact. Named after the black screen of our electronic devices, “Black Mirror”’s fourth season was recently released on Netflix.
Originally airing in 2011, all four seasons of the show have received critical acclaim. Unlike most comedies or dramas, where all the episodes follow a single plot and are connected, every episode in “Black Mirror” is completely independent from the rest, featuring all new casts for each episode. In fact, other than the occasional small reference to a previous episode and the overall atmosphere of the series, there’s no indication that the episodes are part of the same series.
While many of the episodes are set in the future, they are always close enough to the present to leave an impactful message that resonates with some facet of our lives. The show focuses on modern technology and the harm it can cause. In the most recent season, a recurring idea that creator Charlie Brooker focuses on is human consciousness and the implications of being able to replicate and augment it. This is even more relevant today as rudimentary artificial intelligences, such as Amazon’s Alexa, are becoming more and more popular.
The final episode of the season, “Black Museum”, features a museum that houses some of the technologies shown in previous episodes, as well as a few new ones. It acts as a retrospective on the series as a whole, questioning the ability of technology to heighten societal vices, while also maintaining hope for positive change.
For those looking for a show to cheer them up and make them laugh, “Black Mirror” is definitely not the way to go. The episodes rarely have a happy ending, usually concluding with a gut-wrenching plot twist guaranteed to make you reconsider what you just watched.
For current fans of the series, don’t get too excited: Although Brooker has expressed interest in another season, no plans currently exist. He does, however, plan to create three volumes of novellas based on the Netflix series, with the first to be released on Feb. 20.