Has America ruined Black Mirror?

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Has America ruined Black Mirror?

After the first two seasons of

After the first two seasons of "Black Mirror," Netflix bought the rights to the series.

Netflix

After the first two seasons of "Black Mirror," Netflix bought the rights to the series.

Netflix

Netflix

After the first two seasons of "Black Mirror," Netflix bought the rights to the series.

Nika Lobykina

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Black Mirror, one of the most highly reviewed and popular television series, has faced much criticism after their most recent debut of season five. 

The first two seasons of the series belonged to and were created with Britain’s Channel 4 from 2011 to 2013; however, since signing over exclusive rights to Netflix in 2015, many believe most of the show’s initial ability to entice dystopian futures, while leaving viewers both enchanted and slightly discomforted, has faltered. 

“Black Mirror is an amazing show, there’s no denying that. I am, however, disappointed in the lack of ambition in season 5,” Keyanna Blos said. “Compared to previous episodes, many of the most recent ones have seemed rather weak and have lacked real significance. I mean, this show is known for its unapologetic honesty and darkness. Where is that now?”

In comparison to the 87% rating season 2 was given, season 5 received a rating of 67% to 20% differentiation, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

Many believe it is obvious that the show has changed tonally, visually, and thematically since becoming an American production. Some claim it has become much more “Hollywood” in terms of the topics, cast, and overall production.

Black Mirror was once infamous for its raw, uncut, and realistic style. Since having been taken over by Netflix, in order to appeal to the masses streaming from phones and tablets, episodes have become longer, more saturated, delusive, and, in other words, “safe.”

Still, there are some American episodes that are considered to be some of the best yet. Season 3’s “San Junipero,” for instance, is highly regarded as one of the standouts of its season, if not the entire series.

Unlike many other episodes, “San Junipero” displayed a more bright and optimistic view on what implications future technology could have for society and the world. It focused on two elderly women, Kelly (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Yorkie (played by Mackenzie Davis), that met in a virtual world using a database that uploaded and stored the consciouses of each individual. This allowed for people to escape the limits of old age and beat death, as many in the real world would like to.

Netflix

Black Mirror episodes such as this one have very successfully raised questions and started conversations that otherwise might not be made. It has been well respected and acknowledged for its unique ability to force viewers to think about the various disturbing truths that each episode entails. Is it inhumane to cheat death? Or is it a brilliant idea?

Other American episodes, however, such as season 5’s “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too,” have received some of the harshest criticism of all. The story surrounds singer Ashley O’s (played by Miley Cyrus) struggle to be independent and true in the dominating and greedy music industry. 

According to Haleigh Foutch from Collider, “[Black Mirror’s season 5] doesn’t represent a return to tone, nor to potency. ‘Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too’ is a paper-thin investigation into the exploitative nature of the music industry, teenage identity, and the fight for autonomy in the digital age. It all sounds great on paper, and ‘Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too’ occasionally taps into concepts worth meditating on, but in a very strange turn for Black Mirror, the episode uses them to propel a teen sci-fi adventure.”

Due to an overwhelming amount of opinions such as this one, questions are being raised, but now seemingly for the wrong reasons. Compared to the deep, rich, and serious plots of previous episodes, does a teenage adventure story really belong?

There is also reason for some to believe that the messages being conveyed in recent episodes, while still important, are not deep, difficult, or philosophical enough to be included in the series. For example, “Striking Vipers” is a story about the complicated effects that technology can have on relationships and how it can change or negatively impact communication, honesty, or even fidelity.

Netflix

While these are interesting things to consider and should not be overlooked, episodes such as season 2’s “Be Right Back” tackle more abstruse and ideological concepts. 

“Be Right Back” targets the topics of grief, love, fear, and how technology influences them when mixed in. The story begins in which a young man Ash (played by Domhnall Gleeson) is suddenly killed and his girlfriend Martha (played by Hayley Atwell) is left to deal with the loss. Once presented with the option of using a service that would allow her to stay in touch with her deceased boyfriend, the story follows Martha’s lonely and weak state of being, and how now being able to speak to “Ash” affects her further. 

This episode highlights that while technology is evolving and becoming a more prominent aspect in people’s lives, the fact that society has allowed itself to become so reliant on these advances speaks more to who we are than anything else. 

Both season 1 and 2 of the show grapple with the issue of the deepest and most powerful emotions human beings feel and deal with. Black Mirror showcases that in many ways, people are using technology to fill the holes they have and that while it may work temporarily or superficially, it is ultimately not satisfying enough and not lasting.

In the end it’s fools gold, not the real thing. 

“The early episodes of Black Mirror were especially edgy and connected to deep emotions related to the themes that they dealt with. The later seasons feel a lot more disconnected and superficial compared to the others and do not provoke anywhere near the same level of contemplation about the nature of reality. For example, that episode about Ashley O and her doll feels relevant only to famous people and not so much the average viewer, whereas ‘The Entire History of You’ showed clearly how advanced technology could change everything, even our closest personal relationships, and no one is immune to that,” said avid watcher Kimberly Carlton. 

Overall, many would say that there is a clear difference between the British and American episodes as the British ones focused on more philosophical questions about what makes people human, while the American ones tend to give off a surface-level inquiry and are more for the entertainment than anything else.

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