Black Mirror

Some shows portray dystopian futures with zombies, artificial intelligence gaining sentience, and intergalactic travel. Black Mirror just needs a smartphone to show you how damning the future could be, how society could end up too reliant on technology to the point where we lose what makes us human in the first place. In many regards, that is already happening.

In this anthology series — these are standalone episodes, meaning you can watch in any order — the future could be either one of these:

A mother who, so keen on protecting her daughter, monitors her every move using a highly advanced tablet hooked up wirelessly to the child’s brain; a reclusive programmer so bitter about not getting recognition from his colleagues at work he creates digital clones out of their DNA and takes them to Star Trek-like hijinks across a made-up world where he reigns supreme; a society in which people can record everything they see and play it back on command.

Obviously, what these episodes have in common is their bleak portrayals of the future — but what makes them truly terrifying is that they’re grounded in psychological fears that feel authentic, concerns very urgent in this day and age where most of our intimacies occur facing a screen. Whis is all to say Black Mirror’s portraits of dystopia seem only a few steps away from our real present.

The show is intelligent, thought-provoking, and comically sinister, a modern-day Twilight Zone. It takes on a prescient voice without in any way sounding preachy or didactic. It is, after all, called “Black Mirror,” which could be referring to us seeing dark and twisted reflections of ourselves in trying times.

Creator: Charlie Brooker – Screenplay: Various – Cast: Daniel Lapaine, Hannah John-Kamen, Michaela Coel – Run Time: Various