If you're terrified of the future and the increasingly invasive ways that technology degrades our lives and magnifies our problems, the science fiction television series Black Mirror, now streaming on Netflix, will do you no favors. This is a dark satire that's rarely 'ha-ha' funny, even when it jokes.
The show, created by Charlie Brooker, first aired on Channel 4 in the UK in 2011. But Netflix, seeing the viral hit potential, purchased the series in 2015; Black Mirror has aired on the streaming service ever since Season 3.
The best Black Mirror episodes twist your guts into knots. The majority of episodes deal with the underbelly of humanity—corporate greed, sexual predation, extortion and blackmail, unfaithfulness—and filter those themes through some dystopian plot device. A man is forced to have sex with a pig on a live feed, as the global community watches. A woman struggles to survive in a world where social media ratings determine social status. A young man is held hostage by a troll who records people's sexual indecencies and crimes.
It's absurd stuff, bordering on obscenity. But it is connected to our reality, enough that we identify with what we see. And sometimes, when the show is especially meta and cruel, it indicts the viewer as complicit in the characters' suffering.
Here is every episode of Black Mirror (through Season 5, which premiered via Netflix on June 5, 2019), ranked.