Black Mirror returns soon, though Netflix hasn’t yet given us a release date. Over the last few months, I’ve been going through all of the episodes. Having now watched most of them at least twice, I feel that Nosedive – the third season opener, is my favourite story.
This is despite feeling that White Christmas is the most thorough, well-constructed and best written. That view does not seem to be shared by everyone surprisingly. It appears quite a divisive story judging by the Facebook page.
The premise of Black Mirror is that it forces us to look at our world by providing satire, social commentary and extreme examples of what’s happening today. But anyway, this is why I love Nosedive.
Bryce Dallas Howard
She is an incredible actress with a natural screen presence. Howard is always a pleasure to watch in everything she’s in. Here, she’s perfectly cast as the sometimes-sympathetic-but-sometimes-frustrating protagonist. She is as much a victim of the system as a perpetrator. We see her apparently perfect life, going to work, buying coffee (and photographing it) complete with fake smile and aspiring to better things – especially the exclusive housing estate where she wants to live. She is a people pleaser in a world where everyone feels entitled to the pleasure of others (with social rewards for those who do and penalties for those who don’t). But soon the veneer of this idealised world breaks and we feel it as she does, even when she annoys us as she does during several frustrating conversations with her co-habiting brother.
For want of a better word, “oldest friend” Naomi (or Nay-Nay as Lacey calls her affectionately) is the antagonist here although like Lacey she is every bit as much of a victim of this world as a perpetrator. We’ve all had a friend like that – somebody who tells us how much we mean to them but they never show it in their action. These are friends who desert you in times of crisis and forget you exist until they want something. Eve is perfectly cast and plays up to the character tropes well – too well. The story is that Lacey is trying to get to Naomi’s wedding where she will meet lots of “High 4s” – the highest social media class people who she hopes will love her speech and give her the boost she wants to improve her lifestyle. But due to a series of unfortunate events, things don’t go according to plan.
The Subtle Touches
This is not a particularly subtle episode. It is not so much a clear critique of our obsession with social media as a sledgehammer of blatancy to beat us over the head with repeatedly. Yet Lacey’s nosedive from aspiring high four to the pits of sub-3 is filled with subtleties that it’s easy to miss on the first viewing.
- The fake smiles of everyone around her as people try to put on a show to reach or maintain a higher status. The most noticeable fake smile is the woman at the airline check-in desk whose fake smile betrays her lack of empathy for the cancelled flight
- Watch the video conversation between Lacey (Howard) and Naomi (Eve). Pay particular attention to what Naomi as she shows off her cleavage, legs and other parts of her well-toned body. Every shot, every angle that Eve shows us is a common Fishing-for-comments-on-Facebook pose. The sort of thing a narcissist posts on her feed every day for the sole purpose of getting comments like “u iz well sexy babez” and “omg, luv this! my bestie is well gorge!”
- The episode’s bright colouring is there for a reason – to reflect the thin veneer over which the problems with our social media personas lie. This is a superficial offline world based on the superficial online world. It’s completely unsubtle and brutal in its saccharin
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