Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror caused quite a stir when it first premiered in 2011. Using the world around us as inspiration, the three-part series drew jagged parallels to the cultural zeitgeist, twisting each story into a pulpy yet familiar dystopia. Part sci-fi, part satire, part madness — Black Mirror isn't like much else on TV at the moment. Season 3 returns to screens in October, in the form of a Netflix original series:
Before we get into this, keep in mind that Black Mirror is not a true story, it has no basis in factual events — yes, even the pig episode was a coincidence — so don't worry, they won't be inserting rice-shaped smartphones into our synapses any time soon. Having said this, there are a few story threads which are becoming a little too close to reality for comfort — so could these moments from Black Mirror become actuality? Let's head down the rabbit hole...
1. Piggy Copulation
Season 1, Episode 1: The National Anthem
This has to be the most notorious episode of Black Mirror. 'The National Anthem' introduced the show in the most gut-wrenching way imaginable. Drawing on the nation's love of a certain Princess, our fictional Prime Minister is blackmailed into getting jiggy with a pig while the act is aired live to a gawking nation. I still feel a little queasy when I think about it.
After it was alleged that former British Prime Minister David Cameron put his little Cameron inside a dead pig's mouth as part of a University initiation ceremony, many Black Mirror fans drew parallels to the opening episode of the twisted series. But these allegations are just that, allegations — David Cameron denied it happened, and there is no evidence which supports the claim.
2. Waldo Trump?
Season 2, Episode 3: The Waldo Moment
Waldo is a brash, over-the-top cartoon from a television show who decides to run for a political position because his creator is fed up with the establishment. Donald Trump is a brash, over-the-top reality star from a television show who decided to run for political office because he is fed up with the establishment — and so are his supporters.
'The Waldo Moment' explored the possibility of having a personality — not a politician — take control, in a big ol' f*** you to the establishment. Now look, I'm not drawing a direct comparison between Waldo — a big, blue, fictional cartoon — to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. For one thing, Waldo doesn't even have hands.
More Black Mirror?
- Everything You Need To Know About 'Black Mirror' Season 3
- Ranking Every Episode Of 'Black Mirror'
- 13 Of The Best TV Series On Netflix: September 2016
3. The Entire History of You (on Facebook)
Season 1, Episode 3: The Entire History of You
Our generation's obsession with recording, posting and documenting every detail of our lives was the inspiration behind The Entire History of You. In this episode, social technology had reached a point where most of the population has a micro technology inserted into their temples which records absolutely every aspect of your life — all with playback ability, internet access and calls. It's basically a smart phone but in your face.
With Apple Watches, Google Glass, wireless gadgets, VR and even more ways to stay plugged into the matrix (so to speak), this kind of technology might not be quite so out there. I bet if a gadget turned up on the market just like this, most of us would want a piece of the action.
4. Risen From The Dead?
Season 2, Episode 1: Be Right Back
Be Right Back was based on the idea that through years of logged social media, emails and pictures, we can effectively re-create the memories, personality and interests of the deceased. Domhnall Gleeson and Hayley Atwell star as Ash and Martha, a young couple who move to a remote house in the country. When Ash is killed in a car accident, Martha is consumed by grief and begins using an app which allows her to communicate with Ash based on his avid social media use while he was alive. Soon, Martha enters the second phase of the the app, and a clone of Ash turns up to effectively take the place of her deceased lover.
Generation Y are the first to have years and years of their lives archived so meticulously — before, we relied on physical photographs and super 8 footage for those precious memories. The internet changed all that. Your digital footprint will exist online (possibly forever), making it theoretically possible to piece together a digital version of your former self. Creepy or what?
5. A Virtual World
Season 1, Episode 2: 15 Million Merits
'15 Million Merits' was one of the most intriguing episodes of Black Mirror; while most episodes were based in a world we recognized, this episode was set in a world we didn't. In this reality, the human race is split based on weight and fitness. The currency is a virtual 'merit,' which can be earned by peddling on an exercise bike for hours every day. During your down time, you are banished to a 'cell' with walls made of screens — showing everything from games to ads, from reality TV to pornography. This is Habbo Hotel reincarnate. People even have their own 'Dopple' — an avatar of you that you can customize.
The episode centers around two characters who want to escape their situation by entering an insanely popular American Idol-type show called Hot Shot — by winning, the contestant moves on from the drudgery of the workout bikes. Now, is this reality a possibility? No. Things would have to go seriously downhill for this to happen. But is it a giant metaphor for our obsession with voyeurism, fame and virtual reality? Absolutely. Will catching all 150 Pokemon in Pokemon GO bring you happiness? Sure. Will winning The Voice, America's Got Talent or Master Chef elevate you from the mundane day-to-day? Perhaps — but it costs 15 million merits to enter.
Season 3 is arriving in just over a month, and will still be produced and written by Charlie Brooker. Netflix have ordered a 12-episode run — the longest season to date, and episodes will star the likes of Bryce Dallas Howard, Game of Thrones's Jerome Flynn and The Martian's Mackenzie Davis. If you're planning a binge-watch, you're made of stronger stuff than I. Black Mirror Season 3 hits Netflix October 21.
Which episode of Black Mirror disturbed you the most? Let us know in the comments!