10 Things to Know Before Tackling Season 3 of Black Mirror

To binge, or not to binge, that is the question.

by | October 20, 2016 | Comments

Black Mirror - Bryce Dallas Howard (David Dettmann/Netflix)

The British TV series Black Mirror became a Netflix phenomenon when it premiered on the streaming service. Each episode tells a new story with a new cast, somehow revolving around technology. You could say the black mirror is all of our screens on television, phones, and viewing devices. Since each episode was a stand-alone story, and there were only two seasons with three episodes each, fans quickly made it through all six episodes and then a seventh with the show’s Christmas special.

Netflix commissioned a third season of Black Mirror with another six new episodes. These will feature casts including Bryce Dallas Howard, Alice Eve, Wyatt Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Kelly Macdonald, and more.

We spoke with Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker and producer Annabel Jones during the Television Critics Association’s Press Tour this summer. Here are 10 things we learned about the season 3.


Black Mirror - Malachi Kirby (Jay Maidment/Netflix)

It’s easy to see Black Mirror as a series of cautionary technology tales. Dig a little deeper, however, and the message is a little more reflexive than that. It’s not the technology we should be worried about it. It’s us and how we use it that could be horrifying.

“I think we’re more about the side effects,” Brooker said. “We don’t tend to have evil corporations or evil gizmos. I’m a fan of technology generally. I’m not like [grumpy muppets] Statler and Waldorf shaking a fist at the App Store — well, sometimes I am. Our stories tend to be primarily human stories about a dilemma in which the technology often facilitates a character’s downfall.”

Like when you look at the first season, the very first episode, there’s nothing wrong with live television. There is something very wrong with kidnappers who ask the prime minister to have sex with a pig on live television.

“It’s much more about the human drama, the human story,” Jones said. “The technology is not the evil. It’s the facilitator, and it’s often what we’re doing. So it’s all led by the individual. Do we overshare? Do we not have any sense of privacy anymore? We’re the perpetrator.”


Black Mirror - Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mackenzie Davis (Laurie Sparham/Netflix)

Season 3 features the first Black Mirror period piece. Although the ’80s may not seem that long ago to those of us who lived through it, viewers under 30 may have no firsthand memories of the decade at all.

“That partly came about through thinking what would people not expect from Black Mirror was a period episode,” Brooker said. “So that’s partly how that came about.”

Jones herself lamented that 1987 is a period piece now and Brooker added, “Yes, it is depressing. At the moment, last week is ‘period.’ The pace of change is such that the start of this interview was ‘period.’”


Social media is one aspect of technology that has taken over all our lives. While they’re not saying if the episode is explicitly about Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat, Brooker and Jones already spoke about oversharing and giving up privacy. They later confirmed there is at least one episode centered on social media and others that touch on it too.

“It’s interesting, when you look at things like social media, that’s an immensely powerful tool that I’m all in favor of,” Brooker said. “I think it’s amazing. It’s a powerful tool, and it’s one that we’re, as a species, still grappling with learning to use. It’s like we’ve grown an extra tail or something, and we inadvertently lash out and knock over all the furniture.

“We’re still, I think, an animal dealing with the consequences of these miraculous tools we’ve invented. That’s our area, I guess,” he continued. “We do have one where social media is at the forefront of an unfolding mystery, effectively — probably a couple that are fairly explicitly about social media.”


Black Mirror - Wunmi Mosaku, Wyatt Russell, Ken Yamamura (Laurie Sparham/Netflix)

Black Mirror consistently falls in the science fiction category, particularly with episodes set in dystopian futures or with fantastical technology. With only three episodes per season in the past, science fiction was a good catch-all description. Now with six episodes in season 3, each episode can stand out in a unique genre.

“Now that we’re doing six this season, there’s a lot more variety across the season,” Jones said. “So we venture into different genres. One is a police procedural. We also have a love story. We have a thriller. [We have] what we would call ‘kitchen sink’ — that’s a British phrase, a domestic, grounded story. So there’s a variety of genre, but there’s a consistency of tone.

“We always try to make the films entertaining — whether that’s thrilling you or teasing you or scaring you,” she said, “but there’s always a dark humor to them as well I think that’s interesting. There’s a playfulness. We’re making comments on the world, but doing it in an entertaining and often sarcastic way.”

Jones named four. Brooker added three more, which means one episode blends two genres.
“We’ve got a military story,” Brooker said. “We’ve got a horror romp from Dan Trachtenberg. Joe Wright has done us a social satire, which again has kind of got social media at its core, but it’s kind of in a slightly wacky world.”


Black Mirror - Bryce Dallas Howard (David Dettmann/Netflix)

Black Mirror attracted filmmakers like Joe Wright and Dan Trachtenberg. What you might not expect is the team behind Parks and Recreation: creator Mike Schur and Rashida Jones, who has become a successful screenwriter since starring on the NBC comedy, collaborated on one Black Mirror episode.

“That came about because it turned out they were fans of the show, and the feeling was mutual,” Brooker said. “That episode is ‘Nosedive,’ the episode starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Alice Eve, and it’s directed by Joe Wright. That I would classify as a social satire about kind of identity in the social media age. That’s the most boring way I could describe it. It’s kind of like a cheerful pastel nightmare, that story. It’s quite a playful episode in many ways, but it’s also quite nightmarish.”


Because Black Mirror is on Netflix, there are no time constraints. It is generally an hour-long show, but it breaks so many rules already, why not make one a 90-minute movie?

“One of the great things about being on Netflix is obviously the story can dictate its length and duration,” Jones said. “So one of the episodes is a 90 minute-er because it had to be, and it felt this way. So there’s a lot of creative freedom and a sense of a lot of liberty. Feels quite liberating being on the platform whether you want to, and you can watch them however frequently you want.”


Black Mirror - (Laurie Sparham/Netflix)

Recent years have brought to light disturbing problems with police violence, from Ferguson to North Carolina. When Black Mirror deals with the cops, a single hour cannot contain it. So Jones revealed the 90-minute episode revolves around police issues.

“It’s a police procedural with Kelly Macdonald,” Jones said. “It’s about society, and it’s about just how we communicate and online rage and the consequences of that. That particular episode, there’s nothing immersive or new tech in it. It’s just sometimes the stories tend to be about the modern age and the modern world that we’re living in.”

Without giving away spoilers, the producers did reveal there is an armed police officer in the episode.

“I don’t think we shy away from things based on what’s going on in the real world,” Brooker said. “I mean, the real world is so upsetting and chaotic and bizarre at the moment that our challenge is kind of staying ahead of it creatively, I guess. “


You can tell that the creators of Black Mirror are kind of twisted. It actually surprises Brooker that the episodes are taken so seriously, because he considers them darkly comic. Even the pig one.

“In the U.K., I’m known for doing comedy things and things like that,” Brooker said. “I think that doesn’t often translate in the U.S., so I’m often absolutely howling with laughter when coming up with the ideas for this show which we then play straight. I find it amusing often, I’ve sometimes read critiques of the show and it’s like, ‘Who is this angry guy who’s furious with the internet?’ I’m quite a dweeb. I love games and technology and all of that stuff. I’m an early adopter of everything.”

Jones may be the voice of reason in the duo.

“If Charlie’s laughing and I’m crying, then I know we’ve got a good episode,” she said. “That’s the sort of gender stereotype we like to have in our production.”


Black Mirror - Malachi Kirby (Laurie Sparham/Netflix)

Black Mirror episodes can cause physical anxiety. For example, the “Fifteen Million Merits” episode feels like a physical assault with its video cubes forcing loud advertisements on the characters, and, consequently, the viewer. One episode at a time is a challenge, so six in a row seems impossible.

“I don’t know that we’re really much of a binge-watching show, because it’s a bit like being hit by a car,” Brooker admits. “How many times can you get hit by a car in one day? I don’t know to what extent people watch one episode after the other with us, because we give you a beginning, middle, and an end. We’re not teasing you out. The way we approach the show is to think of it like a little film festival, like we’re giving you six tickets to six films at a movie festival basically.”

That’s not to say you can’t put yourself through the endurance test of six Black Mirrors in a row.

“I don’t recommend not binge-viewing,” Jones clarified. “People have the option on Netflix so that’s great. If people want to watch in more than one go, good. If they can stomach it.”


Black Mirror tackles current technology and even politics, but one topic seems too far-fetched for even an episode of the science fiction anthology: Even Black Mirror wouldn’t know what to do with a reality TV star running for president of the United States.

“We don’t really do American politics in these episodes,” Brooker said. “Thank God we didn’t in a way because it got so bizarre over the last six months, how could we have foreseen that coming? No, we couldn’t have foreseen quite how odd politics generally was going to get. We try to stay one step ahead of the weirdness of the world which is increasingly tricky.”

All six episodes of Black Mirror‘s third season premiere on Netflix on Oct. 21


Tag Cloud

green book Awards Tour festival rotten stop motion Sundance 21st Century Fox films spinoff ITV Anna Paquin stand-up comedy breaking bad Thanksgiving sports WGN tv talk Avengers WarnerMedia fresh Discovery Channel Esquire hidden camera Comedy Central harry potter mission: impossible 72 Emmy Awards emmy awards hist Summer remakes ABC Showtime hollywood Valentine's Day New York Comic Con cars scorecard Nominations ID VH1 die hard book Vudu FX Funimation Country First Reviews Hear Us Out Chilling Adventures of Sabrina spanish language Crunchyroll Music Winners period drama CW Seed laika Horror dc medical drama Marathons Arrowverse HBO Go 2019 crime thriller TCM BBC One comedies diversity A24 Grammys Amazon Prime Video boxoffice Box Office Reality richard e. Grant transformers The Purge Shondaland supernatural ESPN cancelled TV shows GLAAD witnail adaptation documentaries quibi romantic comedy Ovation romance Lionsgate Exclusive Video Animation FOX Amazon Prime MSNBC comic books Amazon teaser renewed TV shows Adult Swim monster movies Travel Channel comic robots Lifetime Rock IFC Musicals Lifetime Christmas movies Food Network unscripted TCA Winter 2020 biography Britbox Certified Fresh PlayStation based on movie Marvel Studios Starz zombie SXSW historical drama australia Election indiana jones science fiction Warner Bros. Chernobyl screen actors guild 2018 franchise DC Comics See It Skip It HBO Max obituary DirecTV Disney Channel YA 4/20 zombies concert Baby Yoda TLC cinemax Awards nature Creative Arts Emmys FXX rt archives GoT SDCC james bond women Kids & Family SundanceTV Reality Competition YouTube Red 2020 Columbia Pictures 2016 trailers Song of Ice and Fire revenge Holidays Paramount Pet Sematary godzilla Syfy The Walt Disney Company anime worst movies Interview Sundance Now Paramount Network Turner Peacock FX on Hulu blockbusters The Academy Winter TV Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt parents Tomatazos Christmas justice league Rom-Com what to watch ABC Signature discovery Toys werewolf 2015 italian Classic Film toronto Disney Plus indie DC streaming service christmas movies reviews Bravo children's TV TCA 2017 AMC TV renewals Mystery President TBS NBC First Look The Arrangement Podcast Film latino VICE 2021 Ghostbusters chucky TV Land versus Tarantino Cannes japanese travel kong 2017 Apple TV Plus festivals war miniseries aliens hispanic Pop CMT Trailer Holiday reboot comiccon dark Nickelodeon TV DC Universe DGA doctor who CBS All Access composers History YouTube Stephen King Pirates Dark Horse Comics VOD best classics RT History USA Network Captain marvel halloween BBC Cartoon Network Crackle talk show Video Games finale LGBT Extras National Geographic pirates of the caribbean E3 Cosplay Fantasy canceled dramedy series anthology Year in Review TCA Awards movie prank 20th Century Fox Acorn TV TIFF Writers Guild of America Drama deadpool serial killer spanish Mindy Kaling Sci-Fi Set visit video on demand disaster Amazon Studios award winner superman child's play Oscars theme song social media Quiz nfl E! 45 TNT Martial Arts sequels Hallmark Christmas movies APB The CW RT21 Mary poppins cancelled television Freeform Polls and Games Family Musical IFC Films Best and Worst popular political drama Tubi news USA Masterpiece kaiju sitcom foreign Alien Legendary crime drama psycho PaleyFest Brie Larson 007 thriller docuseries Biopics name the review worst stoner Star Wars Marvel true crime Emmy Nominations technology adventure space ABC Family toy story Comic Book TV One Black History Month Comedy Mudbound cancelled TV series Spring TV NYCC Spectrum Originals El Rey Ellie Kemper animated batman docudrama golden globe awards singing competition Academy Awards politics telelvision Infographic Rocketman satire X-Men Action sequel Turner Classic Movies MCU razzies Western A&E ratings streaming nbcuniversal scary movies blockbuster blaxploitation Nat Geo Netflix CBS binge asian-american Hulu Pop TV psychological thriller YouTube Premium mutant golden globes Trophy Talk rom-coms 71st Emmy Awards natural history 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards vampires comics black Sony Pictures strong female leads 99% Star Trek fast and furious spider-man dogs Film Festival halloween tv Walt Disney Pictures Marvel Television Sundance TV LGBTQ HBO Superheroes CNN 24 frames joker sag awards Character Guide all-time MTV criterion football casting dceu Epix video cartoon spy thriller BAFTA kids Red Carpet Universal Television Critics Association BET directors Pixar Black Mirror Watching Series Logo Lucasfilm canceled TV shows cults Fox Searchlight Women's History Month PBS Shudder police drama mockumentary Disney TCA crossover independent jurassic park cooking Netflix Christmas movies rotten movies we love Opinion Schedule Binge Guide Spike archives Paramount Plus south america Broadway Television Academy Premiere Dates slashers Apple TV+ documentary Fall TV cancelled television crime Fox News Teen Sneak Peek American Society of Cinematographers TruTV Hallmark elevated horror ghosts Heroines superhero Mary Tyler Moore screenings Disney streaming service Tumblr The Witch Mary Poppins Returns universal monsters Trivia free movies cats GIFs The Walking Dead Comics on TV twilight a nightmare on elm street dragons Calendar movies king kong San Diego Comic-Con Rocky jamie lee curtis ViacomCBS OneApp Apple game show Emmys BBC America Endgame Elton John game of thrones Super Bowl critics BET Awards Photos french spain cops Pride Month OWN facebook Disney+ Disney Plus venice boxing Countdown zero dark thirty Superheroe