Thoughts On: Black Mirror – Season 3 (Ep. 1)

The new season of Black Mirror has finally come to Netflix – hoorah!  Here are my thoughts on what’s good and what’s not about the first of the six episodes, Nosedive.

Narrative

Nosedive is set somewhere in the US in the not too distant future, and follows the genial Lacie (Bryce Dallas Howard) as she strives to become a 4.5.

You see, everyone in this world is on social media, and everyone has a rating. If your rating becomes too low, it can have disastrous effects: you’re not allowed into your workplace because you’re below a 2.5; you lose your seat on a plain because you’ve dipped below a 4; you are only eligible for the shitty rental car because you’re no longer a 3. Sure, it’s a rather blunt commentary about what life would be like if social media truly took over, but it really isn’t that hard to imagine something like the world we see in Nosedive.

The narrative as a whole doesn’t pull any surprises, but writers Charlie Brooker and Rashida Jones have done well do produce a script that is deserving of the Black Mirror name.

Direction

Visually, the episode looks very nice. Everything is coated in a soft, pale veneer, from clothes to building exteriors – even toilet cubicles. In many ways this visual style is similar to that of Spike Jones’s Her, another excellent near-future commentary on technology. In fact, it’s pretty much an unabashed imitation of the world we see in Her, but at least it works well for the tone of Nosedive.

her-1

Nosedive is stylistically similar to Spike Jones’s Her

Characters

Everyone in this world is smiley and cheery, and no one says a bad word about anyone else. Of course, it’s all because of the rating system, and at first Lacie too adheres to it just the same. She comes across as sickly sweet at times, and it’s little quirks like her rapid-fire laugh that show how weighed down she’s really feeling by the pressure of achieving a high rating. Of course, we’re able to infer all this due to Dallas Howard’s fantastic performance, which really piques towards the end of the episode.

The show also makes a point to show that the happiest people seem to be the ones who don’t really give a shit about the rating system at all. Whether it’s Lacie’s lay-around brother (a 3.7) or the truck driver who offers her a lift (a 1.4), it is those who largely eschew social media who appear most free. Again, it’s great performances that help to put this across.

In a few words…

An expected yet expertly crafted start to season 3.

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