Black Mirror embraces the darker side of humanity with Season 6

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — It’s been a good four years since the horror anthology Black Mirror last broadcasted new episodes. You would think that in the wake of a global pandemic, Series Creator, Executive Producer, and Lead Writer Charlie Brooker would have a healthy amount of terrifying things to occupy his mind and present to his audience. Yet when the sixth Black Mirror series seemingly dropped so casually on Netflix, the show easily showed that it had not lost the ability to shock and entertain like it had been doing since 2011. 

The five episodes of series six are almost a reboot of the show, and Charlie himself has said that several other dystopian sci-fi programs have launched following Black Mirror’s success. That doesn’t mean, however, that the show is any less disturbing or thoughtful than its previous series. 

Identity issues and true crime 

As an anthology series with every episode self-contained, a Black Mirror season can be watched in any order. In the episode Joan is Awful, while watching a streaming show with that title, tech executive Joan Tait (Annie Murphy) is shocked to see her life being shown for the world to see. Although a more dramatic presentation of her life (and with Salma Hayek playing “Joan”), the show ends up costing Joan her relationships and even her job.  


In Loch Henry, film students Davis McCardle (Samuel Blenkin) and Pia Koreshi (Myha’la Herrold) plan on filming a documentary about a local conservationist in Davis’ hometown of Loch Henry in Scotland. When Pia learns of the story of the murderous Iain Adair from the 1990s, she also stumbles into the story of Davis’ dad as Adair’s last victim. Shifting their focus to making a true crime documentary instead, the pair are not prepared for the startling secret that Davis’ mom, Janet (Monica Dolan), has been keeping.  

Historical fiction leads to bodyswapping 

The show delves into science fiction with an alternate history of 1969 in Beyond the Sea. Astronauts Cliff Stanfield (Aaron Paul) and David Ross (Josh Hartnett) are in the second year of a six-year mission in space. While their physical bodies are required to perform routine checks and repairs in space, they transfer their consciousness to artificial replicas back on Earth during their downtime so that they can be with their respective families. 

When a tragedy hits David’s family and his replica, he becomes withdrawn and contemplates suicide. Since both crew members are essential to maintaining their spacecraft, Cliff’s wife Lana (Kate Mara) suggests lending David Cliff’s replica to possibly remember what a normal life is like. As David finds the visits therapeutic, things take a turn when he begins to have feelings for Lana. 

Paparazzi and the end of days 

Mazey Day is both the title of the fourth episode of the series as well as the name of a popular actress who hasn’t been seen for two weeks when the episode begins. Paparazzi are hunting for any clues about Mazey (Clara Rugaard) and even retired photographer Bo (Zazie Beetz) is tempted by the $30,000 reward for photos. Neither Bo nor her fellow paparazzi are prepared for what drove Mazey into hiding from the public. 

Sales assistant Nida Huq (Anjana Vasan) lives alone in a small apartment and works at a department store with toxic co-workers in Demon 79. In the midst of an election for a new British prime minister in 1979, Nida inadvertently summons demon-in-training Gaap (Paapa Essiedu) when she pricks a talisman with her blood. Gaap informs Nida that she has three days to make three human sacrifices or the world will end. 

Nida ends up bludgeoning a bystander to death with a brick, leaving her with two more to kill, but local police officers start investigating the corpse. Even as Nida weighs who she should kill or how to get around the pact with Gaap, her morality comes into question, and she is forced to determine if the right people are being sacrificed for the good of humanity. 

Something old, something new 

At its best, Black Mirror episodes leave one shaking their head, wondering what they just watched and why it made them so uncomfortable. Such was the case in classic episodes like The National Anthem, Nosedive, San Junipero, USS Callister, Striking Vipers, and Bandersnatch. The four-year gap between series clearly seems to have given Charlie a lot of time to come up with ideas and this sixth season is loaded with episodes that can be called instant classics. 

Topics covered range from the voyeuristic nature of people watching streaming television to the deepest, darkest secrets people may keep hidden as a fetish, to science fiction in an alternate history, to the public’s unhealthy obsession with celebrity, and even the morality of killing someone for what they may yet do in the future.  

Although the show has been with Netflix since 2015, Charlie has not been afraid to poke the bear, so to speak, and make fun of streaming services in general. The utter ridiculousness of Joan is Awful and the mention of fictional streaming company Streamberry shows a rebellious streak in Charlie that hopefully never leaves as future episodes come to fruition. 

This sixth season allowed Charlie to do stories set in the past (Beyond the Sea and Demon 79), something that Black Mirror had not done before. It also left the realm of straight science fiction warning of the evils of technology. Placing Demon 79 under the Red Mirror sub-brand, Charlie instead explored supernatural elements for the first time. 

There are clearly episodes and scenes in this season that people will likely talk about for years (Joan’s scene in the church will likely scar people for life while Nida interacting with a demon that looks like the lead singer from 70s disco group Boney M is just surreal), hence ensuring that this sixth series is living up to the show’s legacy.  

In a television streaming landscape that is now often so diluted and saturated with dozens, if not hundreds, of shows that are just copying off one another, Charlie Brooker and Black Mirror still come across as unique and original. 

All seasons of Black Mirror are streaming on Netflix. 

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