The show is undergoing a deliberate rebranding because technology is finally at par with Charlie Brooker’s imagination.
In its first five seasons, the acclaimed anthology series Black Mirror established itself as a dystopian show set in a futuristic timeline that delved into the dangers and perils of technology. With its grim tone, unsettling endings, and biting satire, the show garnered an audience by exploring the dark side of the impending tech revolution. However, S6 fails to deliver its promise to the audience – which is because we no longer need to imagine a world with bot assistants or surviving on a social credit system. We are living in it.
“The dystopian future is now present, and the nihilistic outcomes are waiting to be unearthed in reality.”
In the past, Black Mirror seemed to stay one step ahead of technological advancements, envisioning dystopian futures that felt just beyond our reach. While the ethos of invading privacy is still prevalent in each episode, the absence of tech in this season makes it nostalgic for fans of the series. However, the rapid pace of technological progress has brought us to a point where reality now rivals Brooker’s imagination. The once futuristic concepts depicted in the show have become uncomfortably plausible in our current world.
Black Mirror Season 6 reflects this shift by embracing the fact that technology has finally caught up with Brooker’s vision. Rather than attempting to outpace reality, the show now explores the intricate complexities of our technology-driven society. The only episode that really feels like, as Brooker puts it, “trad Black Mirror,” is the Annie Murphy-starring “Joan Is Awful,” dealing with the near possible future of streamers with catalogs full of personalized AI-generated content.
“Black Mirror has transformed from a cautionary tale of futuristic nightmares to a nuanced examination of our technologically saturated reality”
The focus has clearly shifted from the speculative to the introspective, as the series examines how technology impacts our lives in ways both subtle and profound. The dystopian future is now present, and the nihilistic outcomes are waiting to be unearthed in reality. Season 6 is a much needed rebranding of its dread inducing storytelling ethos and introduces a broader range of narratives that incorporates various genres and tones. Most of the episodes in the new season shift its focus from the future to the past. For example, in Loch Henry, the narrative is on how archives of people’s lives are exploited for eyeballs, and in Brooker’s words, “presented to you on prestige TV platforms—that we’re mining all these horrible things that happened and turning it into a sumptuous form of entertainment.”
While the previous seasons mostly adhered to a consistent formula, each episode now stands as a distinct entity, allowing for more experimentation and creativity. This departure from the established formula may leave some longtime fans feeling disoriented, but it is a necessary step in the evolution of the show. It also makes us question: Are we already living in the age of Black Mirror?
Mansi is the Co-Founder of The Blahcksheep. An independent journalist, writer, and musician, she is currently pursuing screenwriting from New York Film Academy in Burbank, LA. She is often found overwrought with overthought; plagued by the idea of losing – of oneself and of the other. She is an avid archiver of memories and feels strongly for the cause of ecological-justice. Most of her written work revolves around the idle optimism of love regained. She goes by the stage name Vyznn. Her instagram handle is @mansibee