First and foremost, put all your fears to rest, Black Mirror fans. Black Mirror is not only back but it is as good and twisted and revelatory as you remember it. Some feared when Black Mirror jumped the pond and Netflix took over that it may lose some of the edge and rawness that made the show so fantastic in the first place. I can safely say those worries are unfounded. Though lighter in tone (first episode) this is still the same Black Mirror held up to reflect the aspects of society most refuse to see, ultimately reflecting back the ugliness of our true selves. It is like the Twilight Zone gelling with some of the pratfalls of our modern, self obsessed, tech driven society. The most chilling thing about every episode of Black Mirror is that the mirror it holds up causes YOU to see yourself in it, and nothing is scarier than realizing you are on a speeding train that is heading for a brick wall. That is what Black Mirror is. A ride on an out of control train heading straight for a literal dead end. The kicker is, you survive each crash and inexplicably want to take the ride again. As humans, our penchant for self-suffering and self obsession is pretty pronounced. Nowhere is this displayed as deftly as in the first episode of season three of Black Mirror season three, aptly named Nosedive. While not nearly as disturbing or unsettling as some other episodes from the show’s previous seasons, the message packs a wallop, and anything is better than starting the season off with pig-fucking (fans of the series will appreciate that joke I even though that episode was also fantastic).
I want you to take a moment and think about the last time you commented or put a smiley face emoticon or a “like” on something someone said or posted on social media. I bet we can safely say you have done it within the last twelve hours, right? Last hour, more accurately. Most of us have, that is how modern life works. Fake interactions through fake platforms that pretend to make us feel connected but actually makes us more alone than we have ever collectively been. We are a society that lives through our machines and lives to judge and be judged, only we pray our judgment will be praise (again, via likes and smiley faces, as if they have value in the actual world). The premiere episode of season 3 of Black Mirror, Nosedive takes the idea of “likes” and the importance of a social media presence and ups it to its apex. Now keep in mind, you are reading a review of this by a guy who makes a living off the web and social media and how much people like me, so I think this shit hits closer to home for me than most. I get it, and the constant upkeep SUCKS ASS. Always having to be “on”. Always having to censor your true feelings in fear of hurting someone else’s and being ostracized. It is not living, despite what you may think.
Nosedive features the always lovely Bryce Dallas Howard plays Lacie, a woman utterly obsessed with being “a high rated elitist” in her world. A world where people run around, phone’s always out, and rate their interactions with every single person on a daily basis on a one through five scale. Like YELP for people. When we meet Lacie, she is a 4.2 or so. Well received, slowly moving up the social ladder. Your scale works into everything. Where you work, how long you work there, where you live, who you are with. It is essentially also a play on the 99%ers versus the 1%ers. There are an elite few who can do anything, but everyone else has to be super nice and fake and always rate each other high so THEY, in turn, get high ratings. I think you can see their societal conundrum that this would pose. Hell, you live it on a smaller scale already.
While I am not going to tell you much in detail about the actual episode (because reviews spoil shit for people and that has never made sense. We are trying to get you to watch it, not trying to rewrite and ruin it for you) I will tell you some basic elements to Nosedive and how it does, indeed, mirror our exact society and where it is headed. Those who turn their heads away from the reflection in the Black Mirror are just in denial. To give you an idea how intense it actually gets at points, just watch this about the toll it took on the Bryce Dallas Howard, and she only shot ONE episode:
You can take away from the title, Nosedive, all you need to know. Poor Lacie who is just trying her damndest to be the elite (and someone she utterly isn’t, which is pointed out to her by two people in the episode) just keeps managing to make some simple mistakes that cause her numbers to slowly drop, the first mistake being being kind to someone who was poorly rated. Yup, being kind causes her eventual social downfall. First the points drop slowly, then they drop a little quicker and well, the title says it all. And it seems the more Lacie tries to pull herself out of her nosedive, she just perpetuates it more and more. While there may be some moments you laugh (which is very rare of Black Mirror episodes), there is still a very sad overall message being sent about the society we are living in right now. We are the walking dead, gazing at our phones and praying to get likes, noticing and caring less about the actual important things in life, like actually living and being yourself.
Of course, this is Black Mirror so it has a dark ending that is oddly liberating. Lacie may not have ended up where she thought she would when the episode started, but there is a real freedom she achieves in her soul she would not have otherwise found had she not stepped outside of her self-obsession and had her life wrung so thin, so quickly.
So yes, Black Mirror is back, and though this episode actually has some (gasp) cute moments and a not completely nihilistic ending, Bryce Dallas Howard gives an Emmy worthy performance and the story will change the way you look at yourself, your phone, social media, and society as a whole. By the way, please “Like” this and share it on Facebook because I cannot afford my public image to dip anymore.