Black Mirror is an original drama mini-series on Channel 4 written by Charlie Brooker. It is satire for our contemporary media saturated society. The first episode, called The National Anthem, begins with the Prime Minister being woken in the wee hours to find that the nation's sweetheart princess has been kidnapped. Obviously this is a national crisis and the PM must respond. But the demand of the kidnapper is unusual to say the very least; the Prime Minister must have sex with a pig on live national television. The rest of the episode tells the story of how the Prime Minister, the press, and indeed the nation handle the crisis.
|Scene from The National Anthem in 10 Downing Street|
I usually think of Charlie Brooker as quite funny. But funny this was not. That's not a criticism. It was gripping, fascinating, emotional, realistic, confusing, disturbing, dramatic, thought-provoking... and on and on. I felt sick watching most of it. But I think that's the point. I think Brooker has done a good job here, not by creating a great piece of entertainment, but by telling a story that forces the audience to react. A story that, at the very centre, is about our relationship with media and the internet. It shows that in our world of Twitter and YouTube, the public is often flippant, and at worst cruel, about how our actions online affect the personal lives of public figures. In the end, (sorry spoiler!) the PMs career survives but his marriage does not. He's had to act to appease the public and in doing so ruined his previously good relationship with his wife.
There is so much more that can be said about Black Mirror. I think this first episode was truly amazing and I am still processing my own reaction. I'd certainly recommend that you watch it. But that also comes with a warning that it can be uncomfortable viewing. If you're in the UK you can watch it on 4OD here. And you can tune in to Channel 4 next Sunday at 21:00 for episode 2. If you're not in the UK, I'm really sorry because it is good television. I'm interested to see what next week will bring us.