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Why Do We Keep Watching the Punishingly Cruel BLACK MIRROR?

Why Do We Keep Watching the Punishingly Cruel BLACK MIRROR?

With Black Mirror‘s fourth season meant to drop at some point later in the year on Netflix (it could be there right now! Hiding behind a stand-up special on the main menu! Who knows!), Evan Puschak aka The Nerdwriter has a new video exploring the question of why we keep watching the frequently oppressive show.

The central question is why we reward a show with our attention when it hands us a deeper pit of despair in return. Normally with tragedy you’d at least get a sense of closure, but Charlie Brooker’s series almost always offers a middle finger where the catharsis is supposed to be.

Puschak does a stellar job of concisely outlining the ancient rules of tragedy by using a modern example we all know and obsess over, and does equally well digging through the corpses that make Black Mirror compelling beyond its abuse.

I absolutely love this video. Not just because it’s sharp and incisive, but because it offers a framework for how we might think and assess one of the more enigmatic shows of our generation. We tend to name-check The Twilight Zone when talking about Black Mirror, but the comparison feels like putting on a wet bathing suit, like comparing the school bully to the librarian. And I think The Nerdwriter puts a finger on why that parallel (in spite of the science fiction family bond) has always felt a bit wobbly beyond the harsh nihilism of the newer show. The Twilight Zone went into some dark places, too, but its spoonful of moral sugar always helped the medicine go down in a way that reminded you that it’s only a show. Black Mirror isn’t interested in alienating us from its potential reality.

Life’s hard, and rarely comes with lessons, and most of us will just keep on watching.

But, seriously, if you’re trying to get a friend hooked on the show, ease them in by skipping the pig episode and get back to it later. Trust me.

Images: Netflix

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