Black Mirror wants us to fear the future, but I, for one, welcome our robot overlords.
I mean it. I'm just optimistic/naïve enough to trust that whatever the future has in store for us will be awesome, despite the penchant of TV to present the most foreboding of apocalyptic scenarios. I understand that the continuing advancement of technology comes with serious responsibilities, but I also have faith in the decency of humanity.
Netflix just rolled out the third season of the acclaimed tech drama with six thought-provoking episodes that will most likely depress the average viewer with tidy fables about, among other things, global warming, a corrupt military-industrial complex and cyber-bullying. But I saw more.
Back in the day, when I watched Battlestar Galactica, I for sure understood the gravity of their situation. I mean, the human race was basically destroyed and all. But I was also like: "That gigantic space barge produces zero garbage? Everything gets recycled? That is impressive." Watching Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation bark "Earl Grey tea, hot!" at the Enterprise's food replicator wowed me. Even the TV version of Minority Report (R.I.P.) gave us another look at Tom Cruise's amazing touch-screen crime-solver. I understand that these inventions are hypothetical, but so was television at some point.
The Black Mirror episode "San Junipero," for example, presents a complicated vision of the afterlife, but it also made me long for the day when our entertainment offerings will include the ability to time-travel virtually. "Most Hated in the Nation" put forth the notion that, hackers notwithstanding, there are plausible solutions to our planet's crumbling biodiversity. And while I look terrible in pastel colors, I had serious real-estate envy during Lacey's tour of the ersatz Pelican Cove in the episode "Nosedive" (pictured). The woodwork!
My colleague Alex Zalben wrote very thoughtfully about our desire to watch sad TV like Bojack Horseman, and how it teaches us to identify and value both the highs and lows of the human experience. Similarly, watching Black Mirror portrays the seduction, the excitement and yes, the horror of the role that technology plays in our collective unknown future.
But I choose to focus on the excitement. Now where's my jet pack?!