Crying. Screaming. Laughing. Watching Black Mirror is like being thrown onto a wild rollercoaster ride, with your stomach churning at every plot twist. The show doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and explores just how dangerous technology can be in the wrong (or even right) hands. Here are some other shows and movies to fill the Black Mirror-sized hole in your heart.
Amazing Stories is an anthology series reboot created by Steven Spielberg, featuring several award-winning actors. It follows the same structure as Black Mirror, but is not set in the distant future and doesn’t completely center around the use of technology. You could consider Amazing Stories a ‘less grim version’ of Black Mirror in a way. ‘The Cellar’ is a great first episode. Sam, a construction worker with no real ambitions in life, is inadvertently sent back in time to 1919 through a weather anomaly. Everything soon changes when he meets a woman (Evelyn) and falls madly in love with her. While she is being forced into a marriage and he wants to return home, it’s interesting to see their relationship dynamic as they both seek out freedom.
Amazing Stories can be streamed on Apple TV+. There is only one season so far with five standalone episodes, and it’s currently unclear if the show will be renewed for a second season.
Even though Travelers is set in the present, most of the main characters are actually agents from the future. Essentially, the world is going to be left in ruins by several disasters. This is why ‘travelers’ are being sent back to our time to perform different missions. In order for these agents to arrive, they have to take over (and override) the body of someone who is about to die. Assuming someone else’s identity can be a difficult burden to bear, especially when their loved ones start to notice that something is different. This show explores the consequences and ethical implications of changing the course of history. Is it worth blindly following instructions and saving a boy’s life, if he could grow up to become a serial killer?
While Travelers doesn’t have the same storytelling elements of Black Mirror, it does have similar dystopian science-fiction elements. You can watch the three seasons of Travelers on Netflix. The show was not renewed for a fourth season, but it ends on a very strong note nonetheless.
Mr. Robot is a thriller show that follows the story of Elliot, a mentally ill cyber-security engineer that is recruited by Mr. Robot to join “FSociety”. This group wants to take down E Corp (also known as Evil Corp) by hacking into its systems and stopping consumer debt. In his free time, Elliot enjoys hacking his friends to uncover their dirty secrets. Since Elliot is an unreliable narrator, you often find yourself questioning whether or not certain events have actually happened. In fact, Mr. Robot is simply a figment of Elliot’s imagination and acts as a split persona. It’s surreal to see this character break the fourth wall by speaking with his imaginary friend(s).
With an Amazon Prime membership, you can binge all four seasons of Mr. Robot on Amazon. Since the show aired on the USA Network, it can also be streamed there.
The Twilight Zone (1959)
The Twilight Zone is actually one of the shows that inspired Black Mirror. As an anthology series, characters would often face paranormal or psychological threats with a healthy dose of horror and fantasy. Just like Black Mirror, most of the standalone episodes would have a surprising ending with a moral message. As these stories are being narrated by Serling (the creator of the show), it’s almost like you can see inside his head.
Since The Twilight Zone was produced a long time ago, there aren’t many special effects. However, the lack of CGI ends up putting more well-deserved emphasis on the show’s storytelling. The Twilight Zone can change the way you view things by planting seeds of doubt about humanity. You can watch all five seasons of The Twilight Show with CBS All Access, as well as the 2020 reboot which was recently released.
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
While Bandersnatch is associated with Black Mirror, it isn’t actually featured under any of the seasons and is its own standalone film on Netflix. What makes Bandersnatch so special is the interactive experience, as you are given the ability to make choices. This interactive film is about a young programmer named Stefan, who desperately tries to create a game based on the novel ‘Bandersnatch’. The catch is that the writer of this novel was actually driven insane, becoming obsessed with the concept of free will. You start to see Stefan crumble under pressure and descend into madness. It is his (and your) priority to produce the best game possible, no matter what.
It’s jarring to watch as characters start to become self-conscious, realizing that they may not be in control of their actions. Since the storyline isn’t linear, the endings are ambiguous and left open to interpretation. Embracing the themes and charms of Black Mirror, Bandersnatch lives up to the show’s high standards and can be replayed on Netflix. It’s just like Frank would say, “so many choices, you end up not knowing which one you want.”
All in all, these shows are definitely worth watching (after you finish your tenth binge of Black Mirror if you’re anything like me). I also recommend checking out r/blackmirror to get your daily dose of memes and theories.