This week we saw the long awaited release of the latest installment of Black Mirror. The British anthology followed up to their previously released 4 seasons with a “choose your own adventure” type of film. As the mainstream media outlets say, it’s designed to “change the way we watch television.”
I was game (pun sorta intended) to give this role playing element a try. After immediately binging season 4 soon after it’s release, it had been a year’s worth of anticipation. During which time, I mentioned the series in almost every water cooler conversation at work – trying to get more people on board. Here’s one thing I learned when trying to “sell” the series to friends… don’t have them go back to season one. I told a coworker to start watching it and so she went back to the pig episode in season one. She stopped talking to me.
Last night I joined Black Mirror fans new and old with Firestick remote in hand, ready to choose some possibly warped adventures. I first noticed the British accents, which sort of took me by surprise. Their first couple of seasons were pretty much all British until they hit Netflix fame and then I noticed American accents from thereon. It seemed only a minute or so in before I was faced with my first adventure choice. I had to make the crucial decision about… cereal. Really? Another minute went by and I had to choose which cassette he popped into his walkman (by the way, it’s set in the 80s). This quickly started to get exhausting. Was I going to have to choose which hand he used to wipe his butt?
The choices progressively became more important to the storyline. Without spoiling anything, I won’t go into too much detail. Now… I’m not the most well-versed choose your own adventure player out there. But I was under the impression that when you choose your own adventure, there are no right or wrong choices. With Bandersnatch, there apparently are wrong choices that will loop you until you do choose wisely… or in this story… unwisely. That sort of disappointed me because I thought this installment of Black Mirror would take me weeks to unravel the various outcomes.
As far as Black Mirror holding up to its dark and twisted reputation, it definitely holds up. But has it changed the way we want television programming? Nah… not for me. Since I have kids, I have a very narrow window when it comes to watching programs that DON’T have unicorn dance parties. I just want to sit back and be immersed in something without having to engage every few minutes. Plus I watch most shows with my wife. For you couples that have a hard time deciding on which restaurant to eat at (like us), imagine how difficult it must be to agree on timed decisions while watching TV. It just adds a level of stress that we just spent the entire day trying to escape.
Choose you own adventure, or not… I’d love to see a full 5th season of Black Mirror. In the meantime, maybe they could add some adventure choices in the previous episodes so that I could vote “no” on that guy having sex with the pig in season one.