The Evolution of Black Mirror and Why College Students Can’t Stop Watching It

By Jared Rosenberg, Pat Meehan and Nick Kobel:

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The genre of science-fiction thrillers is one of the most refined yet expansive formats for television and movies according to imdb.com. The Twilight Zone, on CBS, was the original. When it first aired it became so overwhelmingly popular that spin-offs and movies soon followed. The X-Files, on FOX, dominated the 90s. Supernatural, on the CW, dominated the 2000s. However, one of the most recent is the show originally airing in the United Kingdom on Channel 4, Black Mirror. It created a community that eagerly awaits every new season.

Recently, Netflix created their own take on the show: Bandersnatch, which was not the cult sensation the original show continues to be. However, diehard fans believe the technology used to make it is revolutionary. Being able to choose the path of your flawed hero was something very few movies and shows had done before, certainly not as much as Bandersnatch had.

Meredith Morse, an avid fan of Black Mirror and science fiction in general, explained why she believes college students take such an interest in the world Black Mirror creates: “There’s really nothing like it,” Morse explains. “The world that it creates is so vivid and crazy I think that’s what attracts us.” Morse is a sophomore at Gannon University in Erie Pennsylvania, she spends much of her free time watching the show and more importantly watching it with friends. “We all get together every time a season comes out, and we binge the whole season till either we pass out or we finish it. I mean each is only like 5 episodes.”

Benjamin Morton, a senior at Utica College, also watches the show and described why he can’t stop watching it. “It just appeals to our age group,” Morton said “The blood and guts and all around graphic content lure in a lot of people in general, but I really think that the show makes some great points. A lot of the people my age are liberal or at least socially, the show really explores what it’s like when the corrupt run rampant and there is no regulation.”

“Like this one episode shows a hacker basically take over the government in order to make the prime minister fuck a pig. But what it’s really saying is that there was no regulation in this specific area of the internet and with technology and a hacker was able to breach one of the highest political offices out there. At least that’s what I think at least. Another episode like that, a CTO of a company creates his own digital slave world and there’s no government regulation to stop that. The show almost has the political and ‘satirical’ voice that people my age wish we had.”

The show explores the darkest corners of the world. Whether in the past, or present Black Mirror tackles the issues that can arise from technology. Charlie Brooker, the shows creator drafted the title in an effort to explore the line between delight and discomfort, The ‘black mirror’ of the title is the one you’ll find on every wall, on every desk, in the palm of every hand: the cold, shiny screen of a TV, a monitor, a smartphone.”

The show has tackled everything from hackers overthrowing the government for the day, to dystopian and post-apocalyptic societies, to Star Trek mockeries. Everything is done with grace as a tribute to the fan base that the show is playing off of for the episode. Many of the episodes have been unique takes on our worst nightmares although, social commentary is also fairly common.

Its social commentary is perhaps why Black Mirror is so popular with college students. Many students crave a nuanced take on the twisted reality we live in. While Black Mirror tackles social issues such as the corruption of the rich and the government, students look on with disbelief that a television show would be so outright. Maybe they just watch in awe with the understanding that our society may be heading in this direction. Regardless, the shows dark take on the way in which society and technology is turning is refreshing and appreciated.

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