★★★★☆

THE INDEPENDENT This new series is certainly one to catch, with a unique glimpse into the future that leaves viewers wanting more.
THE INDEPENDENT
This new series is certainly one to catch, with a unique glimpse into the future that leaves viewers wanting more.

How do you imagine the world in 2025? Will computer chips replace our feeble human minds? Might our social media profiles become our only profiles? Could digital terrorism reach new excruciating extremes?

These are some of the terrifying questions raised by the award-winning British television drama “Black Mirror,” now available on Netflix. Created and penned by English satirist and broadcaster Charlie Brooker, this science-fiction thriller makes you look over your shoulder whenever you dare to venture outside. Some call this strange new genre “techno-paranoia.” This sinister series “Black Mirror” forces its audience to reexamine the technology that is ubiquitous in modern life.

The program reflects a dystopian hopelessness, which individual heroes try to evade, typically in vain. In each episode, a titular character descends toward moral ambiguity and dangerously flirts with personal disaster. I am continually impressed by the show’s ability to switch narratives and fully flesh out each character’s inner turmoil.

In the pilot “The National Anthem,” the Prime Minister of England must oblige a terrorist’s perverse demand made via YouTube in order to save a captive member of the royal family. The grotesque humiliation of a public servant illuminates the unholy political arena and exposes the populist fascination with undignified spectacle. Regardless of the backstory or motivations, the public is always searching for its next victim. Brooker artfully represents the disgusting enthrallment of the masses.

In the second episode “Fifteen Million Merits,” Brooker reveals the vicious nature of media sensationalism and celebrity exploitation. A fictional “Hot Shot” contest is oddly reminiscent of “Britain’s Got Talent.” The episode also serves as a fiery commentary on the irrational licentiousness of capitalism and excessive sexualization of the media.

The third episode “The Entire History of You” explores the complexities and horror of reliving and recording memories à la Google Glass. Nothing has ever made me feel more troubled by the dominance of social media.

Each episode lasts approximately 45 minutes, and with only three episodes per season, ambitious viewers might power through a season in a single afternoon.

“Black Mirror” is an exceptional program for the way that it shakes its audience to the core. The dark fantasies acted out on the silver screen do not seem that far off from real life, which makes them that much more devastating. As you follow Charlie Brooker into his extraordinary technological dystopia, keep in mind how technology is ingratiated in your life. Tonight, you might just wake up in a cold sweat.

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