What Makes Black Mirror So Good?

What Makes Black Mirror So Good?

As of this video, you can now support PolyMatter on Patreon. I’ll tell you more at the end of this video, but for now, let’s get to it. Black Mirror is a TV show that’s completely
terrifying and also impossible to stop watching… But it’s hard to describe why it’s so
good because it’s hard to define what it even is. Each episode is so independent, there aren’t
many common characteristics. Except one. Many people see the show as a critique of
technology. And if that’s the case, it might be fun
to watch, but isn’t all that profound or new. Here’s an article making this very point: “Black Mirror’s messages are usually pretty
simple. Cell phones? Bad. Reality shows? Bad. Social media? Really bad. Oh, sure, the setup and the execution of those
ideas is impressive, but the show’s primary crutch is too often that it uses thought-provoking
and fascinating foundations in order to reach the simplest, most alarmist possible conclusion
about a variety of technological innovations.” I’ve also heard people describe the writing
as far too unrealistic. It’s hard to imagine some of these worlds
ever coming true. But both of these complaints miss the point. Black Mirror isn’t actually about technology
– or the future. But it’s not just that I enjoy the show,
I also think it’s more meaningful than many give it credit for. So what makes it so good, and what is it really
about? The enemy always looks like technology because
it’s always present for those signature jaw-dropping Black Mirror moments, but its
purpose is only to emphasize the characters and their actions. In White Christmas, Joe discovers Beth is
pregnant, the two get in a fight, and Beth uses her digital eyepiece to permanently block
him in real life. After years of desperation, Joe catches the
first glance of his daughter and it all becomes clear: Beth used this feature to hide her
infidelity: it isn’t his child. Horrifying as this technology is, it’s only
a vehicle for the thoughts and desires of the characters themselves. It isn’t responsible for her infidelity
or willingness to hide it for all those years. This is a theme throughout the series: – The
people in White Bear want revenge, technology is just along for the ride. – And Nosedive and Fifteen Million Merits
have technology that ruins lives, but it only works because of people’s willingness to
comply Black Mirror uses technology as a writing
device, a tool to expose who we are in a way that seems new – but isn’t really the focus. Each story is really about problems we already
have, in a world without the episode’s technology. And if you have any doubt about this, here’s
the creator of the show himself: It’s a show about people, and how the traits
we all have can go very wrong, especially when we’re enabled by the world around us. Which I think explains why some episodes are
much better than others. Here’s a poll of twenty thousand people’s
favorite episodes. The higher rated episodes have well developed,
relatable characters, but less focus on sophisticated technology. And the futuristic worlds with more bland
characters rank lower. I agree most episodes aren’t realistic – but
I consider it a feature not a bug. A good dystopia is a warning, not a prediction. 1984 and Brave New World are overstated, and
that’s what makes them interesting. The point isn’t to be accurate but to take
very real and important ideas and make them entertaining enough that we’ll actually
pay attention. And to test all of this, we can compare two
episodes: Structurally, White Bear and Shut Up And Dance
are very similar: We’re put in the shoes of a character who
we can relate to – they, like us, are confused and worried. And as they’re put in increasingly crazy
situations, we realize who our characters really are. We’re horrified, but we’re supposed to
be even more horrified by everyone else. The excessive retribution and the off-putting
joy it gives them. They end by showing the scale of the injustice
– how Victoria must endure her torture every day, and how many people are being played
like Kenny. So the stories are similar, but Shut Up and
Dance is ranked considerably higher – why is that? I think it supports the theory – Shut Up and
Dance has better characters, and that’s what the show is really about. Because the intended message is only communicated
if we feel bad for our character, which makes us hate their antagonist. We empathize with Victoria in White Bear because
we’re just as confused as she is. But Shut Up and Dance has a longer exposition
– we really get to know Kenny before the adventure begins – we learn who he is and how he lives. So we’re more empathetic when he’s in
trouble, and more distressed when he’s exposed. But none of this wastes any time – those early
scenes eventually come back to haunt us with new meaning. It also has more big reveals, it just keeps
hitting us on the head. When they open the cake and we realize the
seriousness of the situation, Then when we meet the real Kenny, And after all that, when their secrets are
still released in one final, devastating, “screw you”. Which some people dislike – the troll face
can come across as a bit absurd. I actually think it’s important for developing
that character. It’s silly and childish – but it gives us
a sense of the person behind it. Some young, reckless person who does this
for the thrill. Completely unrestrained by the law or any
sense of human empathy. Black Mirror is good because it’s incredibly
entertaining to watch a character be built up and then come crashing down in an instant. And also because those characters are us. Behind every disaster is a perfectly familiar
human characteristic that you have too, just waiting for the wrong situation to become
your downfall. Hey there. Making these videos is a lot of fun, but what’s
not fun is relying on an algorithm I can’t understand to make money. So I’m starting a Patreon. Ideally, my real customer here is you – I
can make what you, not the algorithm, wants. And the economics are great – the marginal
cost can be very small from you, but together very big for me. So any amount will give you early access to
videos, a Discord discussion following each video, and wallpapers for your devices. A bit more will give you access to Behind-The-Scenes
for each video, so you can learn how I make these videos and how you can make your own. And at least for now, I’ll make you a custom
graphic of your choosing – a profile icon, banner, logo, or something else. There’s absolutely no obligation, and all
of my main videos will remain free on this channel. Thank you so much, and for those of you who
go support the channel, I’ll see you in the Discord.


  • PolyMatter

    December 29, 2017

    There are NO spoilers for Season 4!

  • That Habit Guy Channel

    January 14, 2018

    How is the Waldo moment the worst rated? And Nosedive?? San Junipero isn’t even a classic episode.

  • Ben Knight

    January 14, 2018

    I'm amazed anyone can find shut up & dance unrealistic, is it that hard to believe that someone could hack into your webcam and use the footage as blackmail? I mean the scale it goes to might be a bit unrealistic but the situation is something of a possibility

  • Tom Allsop

    January 15, 2018

    I can’t believe san junipero is second ngl 😂😂

  • Aeris Nguyen

    January 15, 2018

    First video of yours I've seen. Great stuff! I can't wait to check out more!

  • Owen Jones

    January 15, 2018

    That Waldo Moment had fantastic characters, it is one of those episodes where you'd have to understand how the British electoral system works and how the politicians act in it though.

  • Rodolfo Ferreira

    January 16, 2018

    how can people be soooo retarded kenny is a child porn enthusiast and if he was not exposed he would fuck children!!!
    a lot of bad people are charming as fuck but that doesn’t excuse or pardons their shitty behaviour.

  • Epsylon Z

    January 17, 2018

    Black mirror is so fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu*kn good

  • gaabor10

    January 17, 2018

    White Bear is a way better episode than Shut up and Dance.. Not because of the characters, but because of the story itself. The twist in White Bear was at least a 100 times more shocking, basically "unforeseeable"

  • nothing human

    January 18, 2018

    What makes it Good?…it's not American

  • CanditoTrainingHQ

    January 19, 2018

    I think youre giving a bit too much credit to character development on that poll and not enough to how under-discussed the theme is relative to today. The creator even said he made it because it's what isn't on TV as much. For example, Waldo is about politics. That's extremely overdone already, and it scored the worst. San Junipero is about mind uploading which is extremely under-discussed (outside of high dudes talking about the Matrix). Shut up and Dance had elements of the dark web in a way with child porn being mentioned, thus did better than stories with basic murder as the primary element.

    I think its clear that the more it focuses on social media being bad, the more basic it becomes. The more it goes on about AI in remotely believable scenarios, the more it's still ahead of the curve. When AI fully becomes a hallmark political topic (as it already should be), then the edge will finally be softened completely. Not there yet though.

  • Pandabearmadness

    January 19, 2018

    I'm i the only one who really liked hang the dj when he showed the favorite episodes it's not even on the list

  • Francis Crivelari

    January 20, 2018

    Dude, your videos are AWESOME! Congrats! Excellent job!

  • C Diaz

    January 20, 2018

    certain details i disagree with but overall pretty spot on
    i knew about the shut up and dance situation before i saw the episode and i still found myself somewhat rooting for him? while i was hoping for the comeuppance i still felt attached to the character.

  • Kay •

    January 20, 2018

    Love this video!! Good job 🙂

  • Acrsicles Pedrcles

    January 21, 2018

    Technology is power. And power magnifies a person's true personality.

  • Leonardo Mota

    January 21, 2018

    What makes the end of the f**** world so good?

  • Jonanice

    January 22, 2018

    it could also be the growth of popularity since BM first aired, making the more recent episodes get voted higher

  • Sophie Bumblebee

    January 26, 2018

    awsome Video

  • F54DF4 A044

    January 30, 2018

    White Christmas was so sad 🙁

  • Jim Bob

    February 3, 2018

    you unbelievably incorrect when it comes to "shut up and dance" – i like your interpretation of it, but it don't agree with your final conclusion. I believe the hacker is a highly intelligent (maybe youthful) non-childish entity. The influences on developing a character in such a way as the hacker points to a completely different person being formed. They aren't reckless and don't simply 'do it for the thrill' the level of depth behind the characters actions and thought processes are much greater then that of someone that is simply reckless. They clearly feel strongly about the topics the main physical characters present us with – i.e the harmful effects the individuals have on society.

    When it comes to Kenny, the way he isolates himself from society and interacts with the world (albeit in a mildly autistic way) make it far easier to spot the flaws in him from the off (ok maybe 10 minutes in).

    oh, and come ooon when it comes to the cake, your practically screaming "its a bomb" right from the reveal of a box. I could go on, but I'd have to rewatch the video, love the series and keep up the channel

  • Tony Bates

    February 7, 2018

    I thought Hated In The Nation was masterly.

  • logan

    February 16, 2018

    I’m surprised National Anthem isn’t ranked higher. The amount of distress and torment that the pm goes through is great. Shut Up and Dance and National Anthem are my favorite episodes, as they both exhibit a sense of confusion and frustration, not knowing what to do, and the “right thing to do” being unclear.

  • naomi zara

    February 17, 2018

    did u make the ‘game of consequences video?😹’

  • Adead

    February 19, 2018

    Suck this up, Kathryn VanArendonk. You edgy bitch! #DeathTo Sorry not sorry

  • Daniel Magger

    February 20, 2018

    Humans picked up rocks to kill ourselves.
    We stared fires because we got bored of rock.
    We made knives because we got bored of fire.
    We made swords…
    Guns… Because…
    We made crowns because we didn't want to think about it anymore.
    We built society because we didn't know how to think, or be.
    Before a future of endless self destruction…
    We built bombs, to silence everything.

  • Sly Fox Duke

    February 25, 2018

    All the episodes are in the same universe

  • Lenny Baez

    February 26, 2018

    What's the name of that piano piece?

  • Peter Yuan

    February 27, 2018

    What's the song at 1:24?

  • Phillip Morales

    February 27, 2018

    Can you break down every episode of Black Mirror? That would be such an awesome series for this channel.

  • Sam Cavanagh

    March 3, 2018

    black mirror sucks.

  • americanv8ss

    March 7, 2018


  • Tbcdef

    March 9, 2018

    I love the background music

  • Spectrum Studio's

    March 14, 2018

    Freakin amazing.
    I love these animations.

  • Marko Boksic

    March 15, 2018

    the thing that you pointed out are main reason why I like White bear, Man against fire and similar episodes more.
    they don't spend time introducing us to characters, but are more focused on current situation and story, they kinda break traditional storytelling formulas and leave more space to our own interpretation, and our own conclusions (they don't try to preach to us but made us think).

  • Julian

    March 16, 2018

    Does anyone know the name of the song that plays for second at the end of the video?

  • Jagadeesh G

    March 17, 2018

    White Christmas and Black Museum are the best episodes

  • Dannyrobles04

    March 18, 2018


  • Jacob Votava

    March 21, 2018

    Why did you cut off the creator?

  • Behind The Curtain

    March 22, 2018

    love black mirror! .. and your channel!

  • Lib

    March 25, 2018

    The music in the background is beautiful

  • Belinda Elisa

    March 25, 2018

    Billy Eduard Albert Meier (BEAM)

  • Rilow

    March 29, 2018

    Nosedive is definitely my favourite episode of all

  • Not Overwatch

    April 3, 2018

    Trick question. It's not.

  • probably elvy or something

    April 3, 2018

    I don't get the dislike for the Waldo Moment. I thought it actually delivered relevant social commentary that hadn't been addressed by the program before. I definitely wouldn't say it's the best episode, but I don't think it deserves being put below episodes like Playtest, which seemed directionless, pointless and underdeveloped, especially in regards to character.

  • Mathieu Constant

    April 6, 2018

    It tells the truth. That's why.

  • Penapenis

    April 6, 2018

    It is the worst show i have ever watched. So fucking boring. I want my 2 hours back that i wasted on this piece of shit show.

  • Jasmine Rochester

    April 8, 2018

    Am I the only one who LOVES Waldo Moment and Men Against Fire?

  • Rich 91

    April 10, 2018

    its not good, i stopped watching it, its because its made for retarded americans

  • Rishi Ghia

    April 11, 2018

    Nerdwriter1 finally got some competition. Nice. Also, animations on point. SUBBED.

  • Stuff

    April 11, 2018

    But it's crap.

  • Atom Nous

    April 17, 2018

    White Bear is far better than Shut Up And Dance imo..

  • Life on Mars

    April 24, 2018

    Black Mirror was never good.

  • Fabby Zolezzi

    April 25, 2018

    It's a mistake to think "Be right back" has worse character development than "Playtest" due to ratings.
    There's a really big mistake you're doing by rating Black Mirror's individual episodes by its popularity rather than by its actual character development, and that is the rating-quality fallacy. In short terms, ratings can't tell you how much quality an episode has because a show's quality is overall subjective, being dependant on factors you are completely missing out of the picture, such as genre, pacing, execution, design, tropes, and so forth. The episodes higher on the poll don't represent "Good characters and less sophisticated technology", but rather a bigger focus on thriller drama and romantic issues (both things that the show tried to execute more often after Netflix bought the series writing rights). In fact, the episodes higher in the poll are the biggest representatives of "futuristic worlds with sophisticated technology": White Xmas and San Junipero rely on the idea of digitalization of the entire mind into a simulation of reality, where episodes like National Anthem and Waldo Moment only present technology already available today.
    It is also very important to note that an episodes popularity doesn't correlate to how good of a statement it does. Taking your example, you may argue that "Shut up and dance" has a better execution making the public emphatize with the protagonist than "White bear", but "Shut up and dance" doesn't get a statement across the same way the latter does because the episode itself lacks any exposition or discussion of the crime/mental disorder that takes place. Even if you only value sensationalism rather than argument making and flaw exposition, "White Bear" still forces you to re-think the entire episode's content on inhumanization, lack of empathy and apathetic observation, while "Shut up and dance" never forces you to think about pedophilia, mainly beacuase this topic is nonexistent on the episode due to most of the time and effort spent on the acumulation of thriller and mystery resources rather than addresing societys relationship with it. This is the case for the most "unpopular" episodes of the series, National Anthem being the best example: even though the episode is written in such a way that a strong statement about a flaw in politics and representative democracy is being thrown at the viewer every half a minute, its content lacks the dynamism, pacing and inner-conflicts that general publics enjoy (and again, thats why Netflix would rather advertize its own version of what a "first episode" should be like instead).

  • Max Louis

    May 2, 2018

    Damn Youtube algorithms

  • John Ward

    May 3, 2018

    Black Mirror rules.

  • John Ward

    May 3, 2018

    Nose dive is an underrated episode

  • Bjarne Hüter

    May 3, 2018

    How can you like San Junipero? It’s just boring.

  • MirandaBaz Ce8

    May 4, 2018

    so, on a friendly way what You want..is. .. .. my money? xD :v

  • Kevin Lane

    May 7, 2018

    I like your channel because it makes it easier to learn. Also, my favorite episode of Black Mirror is USS Calister.

  • Pizzakoch LP

    May 19, 2018

    Season 3 is just the same ideas as in the first two seasons. There arent any new ideas. Sadly.

  • Daniel Maurice

    May 21, 2018

    I still don't get why people watch this show. It's such a downer! Why do people like tv shows that make them feel unpleasant and disturbed?

  • steph g

    May 26, 2018

    awe man,the video is over already?! it got me by surprise and i was hoping there was more 🙁 nice job on the video

  • emzy the lover

    May 28, 2018

    Black mirror is such a good show like it always leaves me amazed and shook after each episode


    May 31, 2018

    Because it's not white

  • Allon Vorlete

    June 4, 2018

    Black Mirror is the modern Twilight Zone, which means, in summary, that the show is about the Human Condition.

  • John Ward

    June 7, 2018

    Sad the kid who created this did not focus a bit more on “Nosedive” because it is reality in China with the mandatory social credit system.

  • AsellusPrimus

    June 9, 2018

    You made a great point, that it's about people and not technology. But I think you can go a step further: technology itself is actually a social interaction. Every piece of technology we have is built by motivated parties within a cultural context. Being in a room where the walls are all screens seems like a cold immersion in a technology devoid of social interaction, but the whole room is one big social interaction – albeit trying very hard to be a one-way, top-down interaction.

    My favorite Black Mirror episode was Nosedive because it could be interpreted as a horror or comedy, and the conclusion could be interpreted as the main character's self-destruction or as her self-liberation (or both!). For me personally, most of the episodes are drowning in too much misery to really enjoy or relate to.

  • Josh Y

    June 14, 2018

    I love Black Mirror so much, Waldo, the futuristic exercise club thingy, the realistic virtual reality horror simulation and the social ranking app episodes are my favourites ❤️

  • Na No

    June 15, 2018

    What makes black mirror so good? Wait, what? Also, how is technology not the main focus of this series? The review at 0:38 describes perfectly what this show is about.

  • bby m

    June 18, 2018

    I still haven’t gotten into it it’s so weird. I’ve only watched one episode I liked that I was able to watch the whole thing and pay attention. I have to sit and try to watch it

  • Mario Stinger

    June 24, 2018

    Wow, that "best" ones are the ones I don't really like.

  • slavkosster

    June 29, 2018

    Not impossible to stop watching… I stopped right after the first episode. After couple months I watched the second one just to give it one more chance and that was it, never watching it again.

  • Yash Shirodkar

    July 5, 2018

    A video of how you make videos !!

  • Aaron D

    July 24, 2018

    0:59 – THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I've been waiting for someone to finally say that. Also it hurts me so much that people rate Shut Up And Dance so highly. It's literally not even that good and I would even argue to say in the lower 4th of the whole catalogue. It's not even all that compelling compared to other episodes.

  • Aaron D

    July 24, 2018

    One of the better BM vids out there regardless of my minor disagreements!

  • Nick Sturkenboom

    July 26, 2018

    Although I agree with you on the larger part, technology does mediate our experience of the world and allows institutions to reinforce certain rules and customs, which humans will reproduce until they dissolve to the background that we call everyday life.

    Your example of the extortion shows how easy a person can be tracked and controlled. Sure, in the past people could do this too but it would take a lot more dedications and risk to do so.

  • Karl Finke

    July 26, 2018

    Great points, definitively, but when you talked about how the better-rated episodes have better characters and vice versa as well as less technology there was one falling out of line, my favorite episode, National Anthem has few but very realistic characters and is technologically realistic apart from creating a perfect face swap in 2 hours, just noticed, watching the video, but still love your content!

  • Adam T

    August 25, 2018

    Would you say this is similar to the twilight zone?

  • Karthik

    August 26, 2018

    This video is just incredibly well made, so are most of your other videos.
    You should have so much more subscribers than you do now!

  • Nucky Mancini

    August 27, 2018

    Its not tho?!?

  • Kly

    August 28, 2018

    Its not a critique of technology its a critique of society and politics and how poorly we culturally adapt to technology overall.
    Again and again it depicts how society uses technology to deprive the individual of its privacy and sometimes its safety or rights.
    Which is ridiculous because i'm not talking about goverments etc but society itself, its like, people vote for anti abortion laws, then people regret and complain about it, something like that even if it is a poor example. And pls dont use that example to start an abortion talk lmao.

  • k Maz

    September 22, 2018

    They put blackmirroenin me.please.fix the.plague the.enter band.program.world in 725 .

  • Shannon McDowell

    September 24, 2018

    I enjoy the series, much like a futuristic "Twilight Zone" of sorts. To me the technology only demonstrates how humanity could potential misuse it (or in "San Junipero," use it for more humane, philosophical reasons). That said, China's proposed "Social Score" does seem like a blend of Black Mirror's "Nosedive" with Orwell's "1984." :-/

  • dolandlydia

    December 19, 2018

    1984 overstated? We are in it now.

  • BLDG the Boutique

    December 22, 2018

    Im not sure I agree with SU&D > White Bear. I think White Bear has a better message that is a social warning, like you spoke about earlier in the video. It also has one of the most shocking twists Ive seen in tv and movies. However, SU&D is a better plotted story from start to finish, and like you said, has a more empathetic main character.

    I also find that ranking to be…interesting. I agree with the top/bottom couple of episodes and that's about it. I think some episodes from s4 are ranked higher due to recency bias and the new popularity of the show. Nosedive and BRB have great character arcs, yet theey're in the bottom half so I don't think that's the problem.

  • D

    December 26, 2018

    are you again kidding me ? shut up and dance is among the weakest for me, how the f*** is it ranked up there ?
    i totally disagree with that list ranking … except for white Christmas it's my favorite too.
    I am more into the tech and how it destroy people's lives, to heck with the characters lol.
    still awaiting it to get back to the standards of season 1 & 2 cause season 4 is real weak and no "in your face mind fuck" grim feeling at all.
    if this goes on, i can hang up black mirror already, get it ?

  • ujjwal kumar

    December 29, 2018

    When QnA coming?

  • Thirty Silver

    January 3, 2019

    Drop Patreon and just go straight up paypal and you will get more donos.

  • Lee Mullen

    January 7, 2019

    Wot if yer mum was a Bitcoin?

  • Biovox13

    January 8, 2019

    The thing about this show, it isn't some technological, anti social media message. Its an emotional trip, each and every episode. I have seen each episode once, and each one has stuck with me in its own unique way because of the emotion, not because of the technology. Amazing show, highly suggest you watch.

  • Andres Ortiz

    January 15, 2019

    "it's hard to describe what it even is"

    No it's not. It's the Twilight Zone for the digital age. That's what makes it so incredible.

  • yourcurtainsareugly

    March 11, 2019

    I hate Black Mirror, and I found this video trying to figure out why people like it. Unfortunately, I found it unenlightening given my purposes and the disagreement with the evaluation of the exposition. I really like a lot of Charlie Brooker's other work, but haven't really enjoyed a single episode so far (I just watched Shut Up and Dance). Every episode feels like it's twice as long as it should be, and the big reveals are telegraphed so hard as to be agonizing or just plain underwhelming. It just makes me sad that something others seem to enjoy so much from an entertainer I love falls flat to me.

  • Abhishek Hamal

    April 15, 2019

    The Domino Effect.

  • Paul Young

    June 6, 2019

    I always thought Black Mirror was realistic. Why do you think the troll face is unrealistic? If someone had the know how to hack computers like that, there would be a good chance of them being from that whole sub-culture of trolling. Think of 4chan and anonymous

  • Brandon Stennett

    July 24, 2019

    Can you explain why Sweden has no bail ? Would help us understand ASAP.

  • DanTheMan117

    August 7, 2019

    Convenience is humanity's downfall.

  • Shoty D

    August 16, 2019


  • goodest boi

    September 29, 2019

    One thing i have noticed is that TCKR shows up so many times in different seasons and episodes.

  • E s s a

    October 4, 2019

    Black Mirror is a warning…
    Look at China now.


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