Tracking Black Mirror’s Thematic Similarities

Kevin Cole

[This article contains spoilers]

The BBC’s Black Mirror is said to be a modern-day Twilight Zone. The show’s creator, Charlie Brooker, describes it as such: “Each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they’re all about the way we live now–and the way we might be living in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy.” In the majority of episodes, characters deal with incredible advancements in technology with the same casualty that we handle cell phones. This technology ranges from the ability to record life through our own eyes to simulations that enable us to seemingly bring the dead back to life. With these advances, Brooker asks, “If technology is a drug–and it does feel like a drug–then what, precisely, are the side-effects?” Within the seven existing episodes he takes a clear stance on where our collective addiction to technology might lead.

Series 1 Episode 1: The National Anthem

In this political thriller, the Prime Minister learns that the Duchess has been kidnapped and the only way to ensure her safe return is to have sexual intercourse with a pig. Initially, the PM attempts to keep the threat on the down-low, but the ransom video has already leaked to Youtube, and before parliament can remove it, it is downloaded hundreds of time. He blocks the press from covering the story until the pressure from an increasing vocal viewership forces them to provide 24 hour coverage of the Duchess’ kidnapping and the PM’s struggle to fuck a pig. In the end the Prime Minister has no other choice and with the entire population of United Kingdom watching in shock for nearly two hours he fucks a pig. In the episode’s shocking twist, the Duchess was freed an hour before the PM inserted himself into a hog, but no one noticed. A nation can get swept up in a trivial event, forgetting the most important matters at hand.

Series 1 Episode 2: Fifteen Million Merits

Set in a dystopian future, one man (Bing) finds love with a girl (Abi) who works across from him, pedaling exercise bikes to generate electricity and merits (a futuristic form of currency). After discovering her hidden passion for music, he purchases a ticket to audition for the future’s most popular reality/talent competition, a ticket that costs 15 million merits. The two then connect in ways long forgotten in this dystopian future where the two major exports seem to be elliptical based energy and pornography. This poses a problem as Abi auditions for the show and is then pressured by one of the talent judges and the audience to join his famed pornography wing. Bing, heartbroken and furious, works day and night to raise another 15 million merits so that he can appear on show, but when he finally does he smuggles in a little surprise. In front of the judges, Bing pulls out a small teacup pig (the last of its kind) and fucks it for all the world to see, all to show Abi that he would do anything for her.

Series 1 Episode 3: The Entire History Of You

Set in an alternate dystopian future, everyone has a small chip inserted behind their ears. These chips enable everyone to record life through their own eyes and then play back experiences for their own enjoyment/assessment. This process is know as a “re-do.” In this episode, Liam Foxwell, a young lawyer, returns home from a business trip to find his wife entertaining guests. During the party he grows suspicious of his wife’s relationship with an old friend, and the following day, Liam drunkenly sets out to confront him. The man has no scandalous memories of Liam’s wife, but suggests that a pig on the neighbor’s farm might know more. Infuriated, Liam returns home and forces his wife to re-do her experience with the pig. On their luxurious television he watches as she fucks the pig, and following some simple math, Liam realizes that the baby he had presumed to be his own is actually a half-human half-pig hybrid. So distraught over what has happened, the wife takes the child and leaves, while Liam, try as he might, can’t re-do a single memory of his wife without experiencing the pain of seeing her fuck a pig.

Series 2 Episode 1: Be Right Back

Set in a dystopian future, a young painter loses her internet-addicted husband to a car accident. Shortly afterwards, a friend turns her on to a program that will simulate her husband and enable her to participate in simulated communications with him from beyond the grave. As the technology grows more and more life-like the program suggests an expensive, experimental addition to the technology. Without hesitation she sends away for the new product which arrives just weeks later in a heavy crate. Inside is a pig with a phone taped to its forehead. The phone is set to speaker, and it emits her husband’s voice. It’s not quite perfect, but it’ll do. She fucks the pig, as it emits sounds only her late husband could make. It’s just like love, but you have to fuck a pig a reach it.

Series 2 Episode 2: White Bear

Set in a dystopian future, a woman awakens with no memories. Stumbling into town, she finds herself surrounded by people who won’t speak to her, until she finds herself at the other end of a shotgun. Making a run for it, she meets up with a pair of rebels to describe a world taken over by corrupt transmission spanning cell and television signals. They set out to destroy the transmitter before they are captured by one of the anarchists controlling the signal. He ties them up and takes them deep into the woods where he begins to torture them until he is stopped just before killing them. In the background of this scene a man can be seen fucking a pig.

Series 2 Episode 3: The Waldo Moment

This is perhaps the most underwhelming episode of the series, but I’m not here to review. I’m here to point out that exactly 35 minutes and 19 seconds into this episode, a blue cartoon bear fucks a pig and proclaims that the government is a sham and that all politicians are liars. The screen goes black for the remaining ten minutes of the episode, creating its own Black Mirror.

Christmas Special: Black Mirror White Christmas

Charlie Brooker’s demented vision for Black Mirror reaches its apex with an episode that redefines what is apparently acceptable to air on the BBC. This 90-minute special is nothing but Jon Hamm reciting lines from Mad Men while fucking a pig as N*Sync’s “Merry Christmas” plays on a loop. It is a waking nightmare and a powerful metaphor for the commercialization of Christmas.

Charlie Brooker announced there will be a third series of Black Mirror. No word on his plans to integrate the show’s three themes–darkness, technology and pig-fuckery–but if the first and second series are any indication, it’s not to be missed.

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