What if we could rate every individual encounter we had with another individual? What if we could communicate with the dead? What if a satirical TV personality ran for president? What if we could replay exact moments in our heads as if recorded as opposed to vague memories?
Black Mirror is a British television anthology series that specializes in "What if…" scenarios. Though fictional in nature, the series' creator has indicated that although "each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they're all about the way we live now — and the way we might be living in 10 minutes' time if we're clumsy" (Brooker, 2011). He achieves this phenomenon by touching on exaggerated versions of current day technological advances or political goings-on and following them through to predicted potential progressions through time. While most of the series' episodes tend to err toward the side of the negatives we might face in these projected timelines, the episodes allow us as viewers to imagine how incidents might play out for ourselves — we may think to ourselves "well, I won't be like that character." However, the juxtaposition of a novel or "funny" premise and its negative impact on society as a whole is how the series really turns the magnifying glass onto the viewer.
The most recent season of Black Mirror was picked up by Netflix and featured six episodes released on October 21, and while every episode up to this point has been dominated by an all heterosexual (though somewhat racially diverse) array of characters, this season introduced us to what has become arguably one of the most famous episodes of the series and the first same-sex love story to be featured as an integral part of the series' plot "San Junipero" is an episode about two women who meet during a difficult time in both their lives, and despite trying circumstances and barriers, fall in love and fight to overcome all obstacles that stand between them. I will not reveal too much more than this to avoid spoilers (as Black Mirror is well known for adding twists and surprises at every turn), but I will say that the way the script was written and the metaphorical journeys each of the episode's leading ladies take left me speechless and full of emotion throughout the duration.
Contributing to the popularity of this episode (besides the Christmas Special that featured Jon Hamm in between seasons 2 and 3, it has the highest rating on IMDB and has been referenced multiple times in articles in contrast with a "Post-Trump America") are many factors, including the message of hope it inspires and the fact that any true love story is rightfully eaten up by the average audience. However, I believe the importance of a show as popular and thought-provoking as Black Mirror centering an episode around a same-sex relationship without the emphasis necessarily being on the fact that it is same-sex (though one of the women involved comes from a highly conservative family, and she believes her family would not approve of her interest in other women, it feels as though the argument could be made they would also disapprove of the interracial aspect of the relationship as well, leading me to believe the intolerance of the family is meant to be viewed as general intolerance as opposed to specifically homophobia) is that it provides inclusivity in an otherwise heterosexually exclusive media.
While many mainstream TV shows have had same-sex relationships and characters — especially in the last five years or so — in an anthology series focused on futuristic societies, a full hour-long episode dedicated to a same-sex relationship not specifically centered on the aspect of their sexuality is a refreshing change. Even more specifically, at least one of the characters indicates that she has a romantic or sexual attraction to more than one gender, and the other is arranged to be married to a man before meeting her female counterpart, providing viewers with bisexual/pansexual representation where it is usually lacking in the media. As usual, we find the science fiction genre of television to be more progressive than others when it comes to representation of the LGBTQ community, and for that (among other things), I applaud Black Mirror.