Black Mirror was a game-changer when it arrived in America from Britain via Netflix in 2015. The show’s warped take on modern society and technology gripped audiences by their collars and refused to let go. At the end of 2018, the show continued to surprise its fans by releasing Bandersnatch, a feature-length “choose your own adventure” style film. Over the course of 19 episodes and one film, Black Mirror has been called many things, but simplistic television is not one of them. If you love getting lost in Black Mirror’s tangle of complexities, then you’ll want to know these facts about the most daring show on the internet.
The Name Comes Straight From Your Television
Fans have theorized for years what the name Black Mirror means. The show’s creator, Charlie Brooker, revealed the truth to Channel 4 in 2017. “Because any TV, any LCD, any iPhone, any iPad – something like that – if you just stare at it, it looks like a black mirror.”
Considering the show’s critiques of modern technology, the name makes perfect sense. For Brooker there really is no good alternative, “I mean I don’t know what else we would’ve called it – Spooky Technology Time?! It would’ve been rubbish.”
Jon Hamm Was A Fanboy Before Being Cast
Jon Hamm played Matt in Black Mirror’s Christmas special “White Christmas” in 2014. Before being cast as the character, the actor famous for playing Don Draper in Mad Men was a big fan of the show. Being cast was like a dream come true.
Oddly enough, Hamm got the role after asking his agent to set up a meeting between him and Charlie Brooker. He said at the time he didn’t know a new batch of episodes were being planned, he just “really liked his work and really wanted to meet the guy.”
It’s A Modern Day Twilight Zone
One of the most common comparisons to Black Mirror is The Twilight Zone. The original science fiction anthology series set the mark for the kind of storytelling audiences would accept. Black Mirror has more than met the standard set by its predecessor, and Charlie Brooker thinks he knows why.
To make Black Mirror so effective, Booker followed the skeleton created by The Twilight Zone, “Every week you were plunged into a slightly different world. There was a signature tone to the stories, [but] the same dark chocolate coating.” Sound familiar?
One Episode Is Heading To A Theater Near You
You already know that there is a feature-length Black Mirror film on Netflix, but did you know that another film might be heading to theaters? In 2013, Robert Downey Jr.’s production company bought the right to the episode “The Entire History of You.”
The episode was the last of the first season and takes place in a world where everyone’s eyes record everything they do, making their memories re-watchable at a moment’s notice. Since buying the episode rights, the movie adaptation has been stagnant. Brooker said in 2016 that he had no updates to give.
One Episode Has A Friends Connection
In the episode “San Junipero,” it’s revealed at the end that in the future humans can store their thoughts and memories on machines. This ability allows them to live forever. The memorable plot twist comes out of nowhere during the ’80s-set episode that actually isn’t.
Surprisingly, one of the characters from Friends might have inspired the story. In the classic sitcom, Ross Gellar makes the same prediction about the future. Considering Charlie Brooker started in comedy, we hardly think this is a coincidence.
Charlie Brooker Prefers You Don’t Binge It
One of the biggest advantages for any show being on Netflix is the binge model of viewing. Audiences get every episode delivered to them at once, and can then decide to watch them all back-to-back or space them out. If Charlie Brooker had his way, you would never binge Black Mirror.
Brooker believes his show is so unbingeable because every episode is “A bit like being hit by a car. How many times can you get by a car in one day?”
A Real Life Experience Inspired The Episode "Hated In The Nation"
The best television is often inspired by real-life events. Everybody Loves Raymond, for instance, was inspired by the real relationships of show writers with their significant others. “Hated in the Nation,” one of the most popular episodes of Black Mirror, was inspired by something much more horrific.
The episode takes on the issue of large-scale backlash and rejection of people by the public. Brooker was inspired to write the episode based on the backlash he received for writing a 2004 editorial calling for the assassination of the American president.
The Show Is Supposed To Be A Comedy
Believe it or not, Black Mirror is supposed to be a comedy. Charlie Brooker got his start in comedy, writing on British shows like Nathan Barley. When he created his own show, he didn’t intend for it to be taken as a dark dystopian drama.
Brooker claims that when he comes up with ideas for episodes, he’s usually howling with laughter. The laughter continues until the cameras start rolling and all the actors play it straight. One producer has even said that if Charlie is laughing, she knows it’s going to be a good episode.
The Half-Human Half-Spider Monster Almost Wasn’t Made
The season three episode of Black Mirror titled “Playtest” featured a half-human and half-spider monster that nearly never made it off the page. When the visual effects team starting working on the concept, they were faced with the challenge of creating something scary and not unintentionally funny.
To make sure their monster was creepy, the team consulted Chris Cunningham, an experimental artist. The result was one of the most haunting images the series has ever produced, and that’s saying something!
Live-Tweeting Inspired An Major Scene
One scene in “Playtest” was inspired by a unique experience. In 2016, a writer on Twitter began live-tweeting her binge-watching experience. She didn’t like the show, and by the end her viewing she made a joke of an episode pitch, “Next on Black Mirror: what if phones but too much.”
Charlier Brooker thought the live-tweeting was hilarious and decided to incorporate the episode pitch into the show. At the end of the episode, the main character loses his life because he turns his cell on when he was told to leave it off.
A “San Junipero” Sequel Is In The Works
“San Junipero” is considered to be the most popular episode of the series ever made. Charlie Brooker knows that with popularity comes anticipation for a sequel. The good news is he’s just as excited as fans are to get one made.
Brooker wants to, and is planning to make a sequel, but he promises it won’t be a traditional episode of television. Instead, he says it will be “Like a thing. An Experience.” He would not say what that experience might be. However it ends up, it will be worth the price of admission.
It Wasn’t Always A Pig In The Series Premiere
Without getting into too much detail, the series premiere of Black Mirror features the British Prime Minister getting friendly with a pig on national television. He’s forced to do the act as part of a kidnapper’s ransom demands. In the original script, however, it might have been a different animal.
According to Brooker, it might not have been an animal at all. “At one point, we were thinking of a giant wheel of cheese.” That would have been… strange. But then again, this is Black Mirror we’re talking about.
Some Of The Show’s Technology Is Actually Being Developed
One of the best parts of science fiction shows is the ability writers have to predict technology. Black Mirror hit their prediction out of the park with the episode “Be Right Back.” In it, Martha loses her lover and finds a series of increasingly complex ways to bring him back to life.
First she employs a text bot, which eventually evolves into phone calls, then an android replica. In the real world, Eugenia Kuyda is working on the same thing. She recently was able to code a digital version of a dead friend. Are androids next?
Oona Chaplin Has Famous Lineage
In the Christmas special “White Christmas,” Oona Chaplin plays Greta in one of the sequences. The actress, if you haven’t already guessed by her last name, is the granddaughter of comedy legend Charlie Chaplin. Oona received critical praise for her role, but it wasn’t the first time she caught our eyes.
Early in her career, Oona Chaplin was in Quantum of Solace. More recently she starred alongside Tom Hardy in the FX original supernatural series Taboo. Even though acting runs in the familiy, comedy clearly doesn’t!
There Is No Order To The Episodes
Unlike American Horror Story, which demands to be watched in order for everything to make sense, Black Mirror can be watched in any order. If you’ve never seen the show, you can start with season four and work your way back to season one and not get lost.
Die-hard fans of the show have wondered for years what the appropriate order for viewing is. Now they know the answer. Charlie Brooker made it crystal clear when talking to Buzzfeed about season three. “We talked ourselves in and out of various running orders and then finally settled on one, and whether it is right or not I have no clue.”
The Show Got Political In 2016
In 2016, Black Mirror broke the fourth wall when its official Twitter account began tweeting about the presidential election. Whoever runs the page thought the events taking place were straight out of an episode of the show, and felt compelled to tell the world about it.
Specifically, Black Mirror tweeted, “This isn’t an episode. This isn’t marketing. This is reality.” The tweet went viral, theorizing that the world we live in isn’t much different from the darkly comedic dystopian world of the show.
Brooker Has A Trick For Writing Each Episode
After Charlie Brooker is done laughing himself silly writing an episode of Black Mirror, he gives the draft to his fellow showrunner to read. He then waits for her reaction. If she tells him, “Oh, that would be horrible,” then he feels confident in his writing.
If Annabel Jones doesn’t react that way, then it’s back to the drawing board. So far his approach has worked. The show has been nominated for several awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie.
The Show Isn’t Anti-Technology
Despite being a show that seems depressingly bleak about the paths technology is paving for society, Charlie Brooker says Black Mirror isn’t anti-technology. He describes himself as pro-technology, and just believes people need to be careful about what technology they use and how.
Speaking with The Daily Beast, Brooker explained, “I think that we are coming to terms with very powerful tools that we’ve invented that have ramifications.” Eventually he knows we will learn to use these tools, but for now, “it’s like we’ve suddenly grown a massive new limb and we’re flailing it around.”
The Episodes Are Probably Connected By A Shared Universe
Just because you can watch all the episodes of Black Mirror out of order, doesn’t mean they don’t exist in the same connected universe. In the fourth season of the show, this theory seemed to be confirmed with the Back Museum. On display at the museum were various pieces of other episodes.
Some of the more noticeable items were a bloody tablet, a leftover lollipop, and a bloody bathtub. In essence, this might be the only episode of Black Mirror you need to watch in order to fully appreciate the others.
You Can Choose Your Own Adventure With Bandersnatch
In 2018, Black Mirror broke the traditional television mold and released a feature-length, “choose your own adventure” style movie. During critical moments of Bandersnatch, Netflix will give the audience ten seconds to choose what the characters will do next.
Depending on the you make the characters take, Bandersnatch might end after 40 minutes, or go more than 90. According to producers, there are five possible endings, and hundreds of paths to get there. If you stray too far away from one of the endings, Netflix will politely ask you if you want a do-over.