Black Mirror is an anthology series I decided to watch on Netflix out of boredom, not knowing that I would completely fall in love. Compared to a lot of shows I’ve watched, Black Mirror really knows how to wrench all sorts of emotions out of me. There are episodes that make me feel uncomfortable, anxious, and sometimes I feel like I just need to look away. I believe these feelings are exactly what Black Mirror is supposed to make you feel. The show taps into different aspects of the modern world and aims to make them ominous and suspenseful, and it does so perfectly.
In our modern world, pretty much everybody’s everyday lives revolve around the internet and social media. People are always engrossed in these services, whether it be tweeting their friends, updating their Facebook status, or posting pictures of their daily meals on Instagram. Tons of people worry about what others think about them. They’ll worry about whether anyone will think their jokes are funny, or how many followers they’ve lost or gained. Even in public, you can see tons of people on their phones browsing through their news feeds. I’m not saying that people being attached to technology is bad, it’s just a normal part of our modern day society. Problems can arise when people root their confidence in their online presence, by how much positive or negative attention their profiles gain. If someone loses 100 followers or gets no likes on their selfie, it can really put a dent in their self-esteem, which just shows our developed dependency to the internet and addiction to social media. The first episode of season 3, “Nosedive”, plays off of our dependency on the internet and anxieties about what people think of us, and takes it to a whole new level.
In the world of “Nosedive,” every interaction with another human follows with a rating on a 5-point scale. Everyone who encounters you can rate you from 1 to 5 stars and every rating counts towards your personal average. If your overall rating is a 4 or higher, you’re doing fantastic, and everybody below a 4 is viewed as inferior. Ratings are so important that they affect where people can live, what jobs they can get, and what cars and planes they can ride. With this system in place, you can already feel the high anxiety of needing to have everybody’s approval. The episode’s protagonist, Lacie, has a 4.2 rating and she desperately wants a 4.5. She’s found a luxury apartment that requires a 4.5 or higher, so she sets off doing anything to improve her status. As we watch Lacie go about her day being as nice possible, no matter how fake she has to be, you can feel a building tension in the atmosphere. While everything looks and sounds perfectly pleasant, underneath it all just feels like a charade.
Lacie gets an offer from an old best friend to be her maid of honor at her upcoming wedding, she believes she has struck gold. The wedding will have 4.5+ elites at every corner. Jackpot, right!? All she needs to do is create an amazing teary-eyed speech for her best friend and all of the 5-star ratings will flood in and Lacie will join them in their 4.5 rated glory. But here is where “Nosedive” stays true to its title. After a tussle with her brother where he negatively rates her out of spite, everything starts to go downhill. The music and the atmosphere slowly grow darker while a sense of desperation sets in as Lacie starts to realize that achieving a higher rating won’t be as easy as she’s dreamt it to be. Lacie encounters more and more unfortunate events, and her mental state deteriorates further with every negative rating she receives, until eventually, the sound of negative ratings become painful to hear. The setting quickly turns from a pastel and pristine utopia to dirty, bleak and hopeless. Things aren’t going well for Lacie at all, and you start feeling really bad for her.
What I love about this episode is the portrayal of social media and technological dependency. In a way, Lacie is a representation of the modern population. It’s very common now to have social media intertwined into all of our lives, but “Nosedive” takes it further, to the point where social media is now in control of everything, even how people treat you. “Nosedive” is a great start to the new season of Black Mirror, and if you for some reason haven’t watched any Black Mirror then I am demanding that you should. Every episode has a different theme based on the modern world and it is great. Many of the episodes from past seasons have stuck with me and I still think about them. I am already looking forward to binging the rest of the season.