ASU students and faculty praise 'Black Mirror' season four for its insight and innovation

SPOILERS: The hit Netflix sci-fi series increases diversity and defines its meta-narrative in its fourth season, fans say

Since then end of the third season in 2016, fans of the critically acclaimed British sci-fi anthology program "Black Mirror" have waited in anticipation for the show's fourth effort. 

The fourth season was released on Netflix on Dec. 29, 2017 and brought both thematic and stylistic changes to the series with episodes such as "USS Callister" paying homage to the popular television program Star Trek, and "Metalhead" which is an episode entirely in black and white, something the show had not done before. 

Film and television assistant professor Jason Davids Scott, who has discussed "Black Mirror" in his classes at ASU, said that one of this season's highlights was that it was predominantly driven by lead characters that are female.

"Every single episode is driven by female characters who are represented as heroes, victims, agents of power, observers, investigators, problem solvers and centers of identity and action," Scott said. "I can imagine that being a conscious choice on the part of Charlie Brooker, who wrote all six episodes, as previous seasons have not featured women as much."

Scott also said there was a strong presence of multicultural characters in the latest season such as the Muslim investigator in "Crocodile," the museum goer in "Black Museum" and the lead in "Hang the DJ," which Scott said is his favorite episode.

"Hang the DJ" involves a dating app similar to that of Tinder, but taken to much higher extremes.

"I think personally I was thrilled with 'Hang the DJ' the most because I'm glad that the world of Black Mirror does not have to be so dark," Scott said. "It's not quite 'San Junipero,' (the fourth episode of season three) because it's a bit more reliant on the dating app gimmick than the relationship, but it's a very effective episode."

"Black Mirror" this season also dropped hints that might potentially confirm the theory that the show's episodes share the same universe. 

"This season totally connected many of the episodes and confirmed that they're all indeed in the same universe, happening throughout history at various times which was a very cool thing to me." said Dillon Andrews, a mechanical engineering systems junior. 

Andrews said that this season was his favorite and that people are continuously pulled into shows like "Black Mirror" because they stem from reality in many aspects, including the use of technology. 

"We have insane advancements in technology every day, and it's really easy to solely look at all the good it can do," Andrews said. "So when you have stories like the ones in "Black Mirror" completely flipping the narrative of new technology, it creates really compelling plots. It makes people afraid — it makes me afraid!" 

ASU film professor Greg Bernstein also said that "Black Mirror" might deeply connect with audiences since it explores darker themes when it comes to the impact of technology on society. 

"We all want to know what's in store for us in the future given that we know technology can have wonderfully beneficial impacts on our lives, but it also poses very real dangers which we may rightly fear." Bernstein said. "Obviously, Black Mirror explores the latter, and I suspect many people watch because it provides insight about our possible future and might suggest steps we take to prevent harm."

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