Netflix Has A Black Mirror Fan Problem They Can’t Solve

By TeeJay Small | Updated

If you’re at all aware of the hit Netflix sci-fi series Black Mirror, then you likely agree that “predictable” and “formulaic” are the last two terms on your mind when binging through the latest vignettes in the anthology. Despite this, the show has encountered a serious problem, as series creator Charlie Brooker has accidentally primed audiences to be too smart for their own good. The latest episodes of Black Mirror are as shocking as ever, but die-hard fans can see the writing on the wall before the opening titles even fade.

Incredibly Smart Writing From The Start

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Back when Black Mirror first premiered on Netflix in the early 2010s, I sat down with a few friends and played the first couple of episodes, not knowing what I was getting us into. Throughout the first episode’s run-time, we were all wondering aloud what would happen next within the narrative, asking “are the terrorists going to reveal themselves?” “Maybe they’re being directed by a political rival?” or “Maybe the Princess is already dead, and has been the whole time!”

Not a single person in the room thought to predict “the Prime Minister is gonna have to get frisky with a farm animal in a parable for Twitter culture.”

Audience Got Too Smart For Their Own Good

Black Mirror

Over the course of more than a decade, Black Mirror has provided endless sci-fi twists and turns of equal or greater shock, making it all but impossible to predict where the technological twists and satirical takes on modern life would go.

That is, until their most recent season, which boasts a batch of terrific episodes that I could call from miles away. While the latest episodes still tout impressive writing, directing, and incredible performances, the audience knows going in that there will be a major twist coming, making it impossible to surprise us anymore.

Predictable Unpredictability

Black Mirror Aaron Paul

The best example of this Black Mirror problem is the Aaron Paul-led episode “Beyond The Sea,” which centers on a pair of deep-space astronauts who are able to continue living their daily lives on Earth with a pair of cybernetic replicant bodies.

In the episode, one astronaut, who shares a warm and loving home life with his wife and two children, suffers a home invasion which sees his family slain and his replicant destroyed. Needless to say, the astronaut is completely haunted by this senseless tragedy, and quickly becomes a shell of himself as he languishes in the loneliness of outer space.

Desensitized Viewers To Twists

Black Mirror Aaron Paul

The very instant that the replicant was destroyed, I had already pieced together exactly how the rest of the episode was going to play out, almost down to the minute. I knew exactly how the Breaking Bad star would react to his situation, even though the episode’s outcome is not exactly conventional.

While the writing is still distinctly Black Mirror, and the performances are positively top-notch, the series has lost its ability to surprise me because it’s already done such a good job presenting these twists and turns in the past.

Time To Ante Up

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Black Mirror is currently in the midst of production on a seventh season, which I’m still incredibly excited to watch. However, if the show still wants to be refreshing and shocking, Charlie Brooker will have to try just a little harder to bring some ideas that truly come out of left field.