Watch these on your webcam with some masking tape.
“Let’s hope that never happens to us” science fiction is Netflix’s Black Mirror, a show about the dangers of impending technology that serves to distract us from the very real concerns that big corporations track our every move and spring ads in our newsfeeds by listening to our always-on phones, social media is turning people against one another with the spread of misinformation, and a perfect dating app profile is required for a happily ever after.. I owe a debt of gratitude to Black Mirror.
There’s no word on when Black Mirror will return, so I came up with this list of shows you should binge watch in the meantime. Almost all of these books are science fiction, while others are anthologies or are written by the man behind Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker.
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1. Made for Love
HBO takes the use of technology too far. Cristin Milioti, who appeared in Black Mirror’s “USS Callister,” plays a woman who is married to a tech tycoon who controls a company that manufactures everything from tablets to virtual reality in Max’s original twisted sci-fi series Made for Love. Is there a link to Black Mirror here? Her husband has fitted her with the latest in brain implant technology, which joins two people’s brains into a single neural network. Now she’s on the run from a man who knows everything about her thoughts. It has all the hallmarks of Black Mirror’s nightmare technology, humor, and plot twists.
Check out the Cary Joji Fukunaga mini-series if you like Black Mirror but wish the episodes were longer (about eight hours each) (True Detective). They play two lost souls in a dystopian future who take part in a pharmaceutical experiment to develop a drug that maps people’s minds, which leads to some surreal trips through dream states when they are tested. Despite not being an anthology like Black Mirror, the characters’ psychedelic journeys feel like they could be from a variety of film genres, such as a 1970s crime film, a fantasy drama, or a spy film. Plus, like the best episodes of Black Mirror, everything comes together in a way that’s relatable, but not nearly as depressing. It’s actually quite uplifting, to be honest. Is that something that Black Mirror fans would be interested in?
3. Dead Set
‘Dead Set,’ Charlie Brooker’s first major scripted series, is essentially a five-episode season of Black Mirror. While the rest of the world was burning down and fleeing from bitey monstrosities, Brooker unleashed a zombie apocalypse as seen through the eyes of Big Brother contestants during a season of the show. While the rest of the world was locked up in the house… for a while, at least. With social commentary, violence, and a sense of absurdity, Brooker’s Dead Set delivers exactly what fans have come to expect from his work. As a Netflix Brazil original series called Reality Z, the show was recently remade as well. You can see it on Netflix.
4. Room 104
Depending on your taste, you may tune in to Black Mirror for the cutting-edge technology or the show’s dark humor. But don’t forget the thrill of starting a new episode and not knowing what’s going to happen next. Every time you start an episode of Black Mirror, you’re opening up a grab-bag because of the anthology format and loose tone. Like HBO’s anthology Room 104, which amplifies Black Mirror’s eerie mystery even further, it’s hard to believe. Each episode of Mark Duplass’ half-hour series takes place in the same hotel room. There’s no other guideline. Absurd comedies, thoughtful emotional journeys, and terrifying horror fill the show’s episodes. Even so, they’re all wacky, and Duplass manages to snag both established actors and up-and-coming newcomers for some truly bizarre guest appearances. [HBO Max subscribers: check this out]
5. Inside No. 9
This strange 2014 anthology series was inspired by the success of the quirky anthology format pioneered by Black Mirror, a primarily British production. While the show’s primary focus is on comedy, its unexpected turns and wide range of tones will really remind you of Black Mirror, it was created by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, a pair of sketch comedy pros who appeared in and wrote for The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville. The only thing that connects each of the stories is that they are all set in a No. 9 address, just like in Room 104, which was clearly inspired by the concept of Inside No. 9. For the rest of Season 1, anything goes. An episode with no dialogue is just as zany as the rest. There’s a bit more consistency in the quality of episodes in Stranger Things than in Black Mirror, especially in the most recent seasons (I apologize, but it’s true! ), but since you can jump around, watch Season 2’s “The 12 Days of Christine,” a horror-tinged punch in the face that’s most reminiscent of Black Mirror at its best.
6. Tales From the Loop
Black Mirror finds moments of aching humanity beneath its twisted takes on techno-horror, which fascinates while also depressing viewers. Like Amazon’s Tales From the Loop anthology series, this one has a shared universe for all of its stories. Mysterious underground lab The Loop in Mercer, Ohio, which practices experimental physics in the 1980s, is the setting for these stories, which I can only describe as pastoral steampunk. Tales From the Loop, despite its abundance of robot characters, uses its sci-fi setting to highlight the human emotions of death, aging, and loneliness in an emotional way. The season was planned so that the episodes could be watched in any order, even though some characters have their own overarching stories.
While the best episode of Black Mirror is up for debate, “San Junipero” from Season 3 (sing along with me, “Ooooh heaven is a place on Earth!”) is always at the top of the list for rational people. With its bizarre technology connecting it to the rest of the series, Black Mirror’s love story centered around a digital afterlife in which you can live out your best life will make your sides of your mouth curve upwards. A young man nearly killed by an autonomous vehicle has his consciousness uploaded into Lake View before he dies, a posh post-life community that allows its residents to live a virtual life while still interacting with the living, all of which is at the heart of Greg Daniels’ sci-fi comedy Upload. A lot of the plot revolves around cutting-edge technology, dark humor, and espionage. It’s a spiritual successor to “San Junipero.” [Available on Amazon Prime] Watch now
8. Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
If you’re looking for science fiction, look no further than Philip K. Dick, the genre’s founding father. Dick published over 100 short stories, many of which served as inspiration for films like Minority Report, Blade Runner, Total Recall, and The Man in the High Castle. Ten episodes, each with an original story written by Dick. The topics range from hardcore science fiction to more philosophical explorations of a single sci-fi concept. Even if the results aren’t all the same, pick “The Commuter” if you’re looking for something quiet and emotional, or “Kill All Others” if you want something more dystopian and current. [Available on Amazon Prime] Watch now
9. Weird City
Think back to the days when YouTube thought it would be the next big streamer and began asking people to PURCHASE a subscription to YouTube Premium. Yes, it sounds like something out of a sci-fi nightmare, but it happened! This obvious Black Mirror rip-off, co-created by Jordan Peele and Key & Peele writer Charlie Sanders, was one of the better series to come out of the company’s brief lack of judgment. Any of the show’s Key & Peele sci-fi sketches should give you a good idea of the show’s tone. Weird is a city divided into two halves, one for the rich and one for the poor. The six-episode anthology is set in Weird. Aside from that, the episodes tell their own tech-centric sci-fi stories with a lot of humor, such as the premiere, which accidentally connects Dylan O’Brien and Ed O’Neill via a heterosexual dating app glitch, only to find that the two of them start to fall in love with each other. This isn’t a crucial part of the story.