Black Mirror’s San Junipero

Today’s post isn’t really a review, more just an appreciation post for, what I consider to be, one of the best hours of TV I’ve ever watched.

Black Mirror is a unique show in many ways. Every episode is self contained which allows viewers to dip in and out where they are interested and takes away the sense of “commitment” to starting a new TV series. It’s accessible and deals with a subject matter that is relevant to pretty much everybody living in the modern world – technology and techno-phobia.

Many of the show’s episodes have sparked conversation and controversy, some of the most famous ones being “White Bear”, “Nosedive” and “Shut Up and Dance”. Viewers are accustomed to the dark, pessimistic undercurrent of the show. Most episodes end in some form of disaster as a result of some futuristic technology that seems uncomfortably realistic and possible given society’s rapid technological advancements.

San Junipero, however, offered something different. It was a risk for the show because it deviated from a tried and tested formula. Charlie Brooker, show creator, decided to inject some optimism into the otherwise bleak landscape of his show. Of course, viewers don’t know this at the outset of the episode.

In a, fictional, vibrant 80’s beach town called San Junipero we are introduced to Kelly and Yorkie. Kelly is an extroverted party girl and Yorkie a shy, inhibited and slightly gawky girl. These are the two protagonists drag us through a colourful, romantic and surprising episode.

I don’t want to describe everything that happens in the episode, if you haven’t seen it it’s on Netflix and if you’re going to watch only one episode of Black Mirror I would recommend this one. As I slowly started to piece together what was going on in this, seemingly fun, lighthearted town I was, once again, in awe of Brooker’s imagination and ability to construct an immersive and convincing fictional reality. Of course, the technological aspect played a key part in conclusion of the story. [SPOILER] This time it allowed a person’s consciousness to be “uploaded to the clouds” after they die. They can then live out eternity (or as long as they wish) in San Junipero, in their younger and fully functioning bodies.

This concept taps into one of our most basic human fears, the fear of death and being mortal. It also allows an escape from the effects of aging which plague us as we grow older. The idea of being able to visit another place where you are young and immortal as long as you choose to be is fantastic and the way it’s depicted on screen is artistically beautiful. Despite the tone of this episode being overwhelmingly positive in it’s final conclusion, the thoughts it leaves in the viewer’s mind afterwards are, perhaps, less positive. Of course, this technology isn’t (yet) possible and after the TV is turned off and we return to solitude, we are all still faced with the inevitability of our own mortality.

Not to leave on a negative note, this episode was cherished in the lgbt+ community. A story so universal being told through the eyes of a queer couple is exactly what the world needs more of. On top of that, the characters were individual, interesting and didn’t pander to dull, inaccurate stereotypes. What we were watching was two people falling in love. It could have been a straight couple but it was all the more special for not being.

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on this.

Until next time,

J x

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