It's a move that really shouldn't be as revolutionary as it is.
After decades upon decades of sci-fi largely centring on male protagonists, Black Mirror's season 4 decided to give that idea a spin, with each of its six episodes featuring a female protagonist as its lead.
The Jodie Foster-directed "Arkangel" stars Brenna Harding as a young woman whose mother (Rosemarie Dewitt) tested a parental tracking device on her when she was young; "USS Callister" sees Cristin Milioti in a dark take on Star Trek; "Crocodile" stars Andrea Riseborough in an exploration as to how technology could use memory in order to solve crimes.
"Hang the DJ", meanwhile, looks at online dating, with Georgina Campbell as a young singleton, while "Metalhead" has Maxine Peake face off a dog-like machine. Lastly, "Black Museum" stars Letitia Wright, in an Easter egg-packed episode which unleashes a museum of horrors.
"Charlie and I don’t tend to think about the stories that way. Sometimes, it just comes out," executive producer Annabel Jones explained to The Hollywood Reporter. "But it's great — great! — that they’re all strong female protagonists. I think what’s lovely about the show is that it's not a strident statement. It’s more: Why not? We don’t even think about it from a gender perspective and I hope that’s progress. It’s more that we explore the best story and the best way to tell it."
"'Arkangel' just felt right that it was a single mother with a daughter. It could have been a single father, but because of the way the plot turned out, we felt stronger that it should be a female parent," she explained, adding "Metalhead" also worked best with a female lead "because it was about her nephew and her bond with her sister."
Interestingly, "Crocodile" was initially written with a male lead, until Riseborough expressed interest in the part. "Andrea read for one of the other parts and she really liked the journey of the protagonist and she challenged us and said, 'Do you think it could be a woman?'" Jones said.
"Then we sort of said, 'Oh, hold on.' We hadn’t quite thought about that. We questioned it and worked it. Apart from the physicality element of it — a requirement that plays out in the episode's first few minutes — we thought, 'How often do you see a mother reduced to this level of desperation?' Then we thought that was actually quite interesting, and that’s the result of Andrea’s role."
Black Mirror season 4 debuts on Netflix 29 December.
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