Black Mirror: Shut Up And Dance

Spoilers for Black Mirror Season 3 Episode 3 Follow

Previous Black Mirror seasons made you ask yourself what the dark side of technology was and if you really wanted vengeance and what happens when TV networks decide politics is just a reality show.

This is the episode that makes you ask what’s the difference between a Public Service Announcement and a drama?

A drama has a narrative that unfolds with (hopefully) surprising twists and turns, characters make choices and suffer consequences, they learn lessons and use new information to gain ground or are brought low by hubris. It’s as if we’ve been on a journey together when a drama ends and we can look back at all the turning points and forks in the road and see how we came to a surprising but inevitable conclusion.

A PSA is just an act and its consequences. If a drama is a roller coaster ride, a PSA is the straight slide at the local playground. The main character makes one mistake (drugs, porn, sex…) and we watch as life punishes him relentlessly until all that’s left of him is an example for others.

Shut Up And Dance is more PSA than drama. As with Nosedive, the story is directly on the nose and the outcome is not surprising or innovative in any way. This is the least like a Black Mirror episode that I’ve seen to date. There’s nothing new in the conceit of being at the mercy of online hackers, nor the jumping through hoops for faceless controllers, or in being betrayed at the end even though you’ve done everything demanded of you.

This is ground well covered by many other shows, both lesser and better, and Black Mirror adds nothing to the conversation.

I have to say that I am picking up a disturbing trend as I go into the fourth episode and I really, really hope they turn the series around at some point.

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