It’s barely a week since the Black Mirror bomb dropped on Netflix’s US service. But Channel 4’s dystopian drama has already been declared the latest must-see British import after reviving a form of psychological story-telling not seen in America since The Twilight Zone.
American screen stars and cultural commentators alike have lavished praise on Charlie Brooker’s dark, cautionary parables about our technology-obsessed age.
Subscribers to the US Netflix streaming service are now able to view all six episodes of the near-future anthology series, which imagines a world in which the Prime Minister is blackmailed into having sex with a pig live on television and implants behind people’s ears record all of our memories.
Yahoo! published an article headlined “Start watching Black Mirror immediately” which heralded an “awesome semi-futuristic update of The Twilight Zone” set to leave audiences “frazzled”.
The Decider website provided its “ultimate guide to the best new show on Netflix” calling Black Mirror “British television’s best-kept secret”.
Black Mirror Christmas special
Ezra Klein, the influential US blogger and cultural commentator, tweeted: “So my wife and my culture editor both say Black Mirror is the best” and tweeted a link to an article on his Vox website which praised “one of the most inventive series being produced right now”.
Jon Hamm, the Mad Men actor, who stars in Black Mirror’s Channel 4 Christmas special after requesting a meeting with Brooker, said there had been nothing like it on US screens since the black-and-white heyday of Rod Serling’s supernatural series, The Twilight Zone.
Hamm told The Independent: “It has been remarkable to see the response the show has gotten since it’s gone on Netflix and actually been widely available.
“Since I saw the first episode in the Spring I’ve been telling everybody I knew to go see it. They said ‘well, how do I see it?’ If you didn’t have the DirecTV satellite and went through a bizarre process with 500 channels you were out of luck.
“Now it’s simply on Netflix which everyone has, like, on their phone. So it’s been crazy the terminal velocity, the critical mass. that it’s gotten in such a short space of time.
“I think that speaks to there being a bit of a hole in the creative marketplace and I can’t think of anything really like this since The Twilight Zone, which was 50-60 years ago. That kind of storytelling and creative originality is sorely missed.”
Hamm, who plays Don Draper in Mad Men, compared Black Mirror to that award-winning show’s breakthrough success on cable channel AMC. “For some reason AMC rose above the noise and the show reached that critical mass of opinion that levitated it above the 9,000 other things on television. I think that’s what’s happening here.”
Hamm plays a digital entrepreneur who creates a nightmarish from of “smart” gadgetry in Brooker’s Yuletide techno-paranoia” story.
Brooker said: “It’s not an anti-technology show but it is a worried show generally. I think ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen in any situation at any time?’ I watch the news and extrapolate from that. What if you effectively took a USB stick out of your head and copied your brain into it?
“As we move into wearable tech, Google Glass is going to morph into something you put in your eyes or your brain.”
Brooker concluded: “I am not a glass half empty person. I am a ‘who’s going to pick up that glass and smash it over my f*****g face’ sort of person. There’s nothing in this that’s going to be as bleak as whatever the f*** EastEnders is going to do.”
Black Mirror airs on Channel 4 at 9pm on Tuesday 16 DecemberReuse content