A Black Mirror episode dedicated to the pitfalls of rating systems. I’d still give it 5 stars.

Charlie Brooker’s dystopian tales of the near future are back, this time released as a Netflix exclusive series. After two fantastic seasons and a chilling Christmas special, the highly anticipated return of Black Mirror, the sci-fi satire had a lot to live up to, a fact seemingly joked about by the first episodes title “Nosedive.” This is, however, a misnomer and Brooker’s return is everything Black Mirror fans have been waiting for.

In the first episode we find ourselves flung into an American pastel-suburbia where social media has evolved into a popularity- based caste system, with everyone giving and receiving one-to-five star ratings for everything, from day-to-day interactions to the online personality of friends. Like a hideous combination of Twitter, Facebook, and Uber, all on steroids, the social media monstrosity is entirely necessary to function in this domestic dreamscape, and so effects everyone in society. We follow the adorably neurotic Lacie Pound (played fantastically by Bryce Dallas Howard) a “4.2” desperate to work her way up the echelons of society to the prestigious “4.5+ prime-influence” group.

The brilliance of Brooker has always been in his ability to mirror our world so accurately, never presenting anything too unbelievable, to create an uncanny replica of 21st century life. For example, each of the characters presented seem to echo the friends we all have on social media. From the ultra-popular it girl whose life looks a little too perfect to the the cynical hypocrite who talks about the evils of social media whilst still using it. Through this, Lacie becomes the all too relatable protagonist who aspires to the lives she sees online. The episode perfectly encapsulates the feelings of inadequacy and jealousy that social media often drags up in us and pushes that feeling to the extreme.

Although perhaps a little slow to start, the world built up is an immersive one, and director Joe Wright does a fantastic job of detailing this Instagram perfect society without being too on the nose with explanations of the new technology that runs it. The parallels to our world begin to grow and show themselves and pretty soon the pretty beige nightmare world starts to look startlingly like your newsfeed.

This is a strong start to the series and, having watched the other five episodes, the quality doesn’t falter. “Nosedive” Presented to us is a world under constant judgement, and we are given a chance to see all the terrible pitfalls of this and to realise, maybe we’re closer to this world than we think.

James McCann

[5star]

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