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15th November 2016

Review: Black Mirror S3E01 — Nosedive

Nosedive is a technically successful pilot episode for the new season of Black Mirror — but is it really all that original?

This years new series of Black Mirror kicks off with an episode entitled Nosedive. It is a critical look at the future of social media use. Imagine a world where people’s perceptions of you are moulded through the online persona which you create. Every meal, memory and moment posted online for others to judge and scrutinise — sound familiar?

The programme stars Bryce Dallas Howard as Lacie, and home-grown talent Alice Eve as the vivacious and seemingly perfect Naomi. The episode is written by Charlie Brooker, who is also the show’s creator. Joe Wright, best known for her romantic films such as Atonement and Pride and Prejudice, directs.

Lacie’s persona can be best described as akin to cotton candy; sickly sweet with a wardrobe consisting of pastel pink. In the world Brooker has created, everyone is assigned a rating out of five. Lacie is rated a 4.2 and needs to surround herself with “high quality people”. There are people such as Naomi, who is at a staggering 4.8. Being a highly rated individual allows you into the “premium users” club. This is for people 4.5 and above. Our girl Lacie desperately wants to be in the club, because elite high ranking members have access to certain perks and luxuries.

The plot line centres around Lacie’s commendable efforts to boost her social standing. She plans to use Naomi’s upcoming nuptials as an ideal hunting ground. The logic is; when you associate with high ranking people, you become one. However in true Black Mirror fashion nothing goes to plan and Lacie’s social standing begins to take a Nosedive.

This introductory episode does not fall short of Black Mirrors reputation. It is a social commentary on the potentially detrimental effects of technology. However, it is a tune that has been played one too many times. The show’s warnings against technology are becoming repetitive and predictable. The unpredictability and forward-thinking ideas are what made Black Mirror so popular in the first place. It is sad to see it take a departure from the brilliance that was once produced.

With that being said, the performances and production value of the show have maintained their high standards. Netflix have put a lot of money into the show’s production, and it shows. This further cements the online viewing platform as a high quality visual medium capable of competing with television.

Nosedive’s vapid construction of our future online exploits are too close to home. None of the ideas it presents are new or challenging. Many of us now are aware of the false veneer presented online and actively take part in the illusion. However the programme does serve a didactic purpose nonetheless. It reaffirms the lies we all tell. For example, when Lacie posts a picture of her coffee, but then grimaces as she sips it, realising that it is not as appealing as she had portrayed it to be.

Overall, the show holds a mirror up to us the viewer, no pun intended, of how ridiculous and out of hand our online representations have become. We cherry-pick the highlights of our lives. And in the age of Instagram models with no morals, catfishes and rating systems, we all have something to learn from Nosedive. Namely, what could potentially go wrong when you try too hard to be something you are not.

Overall rating for the episode: 3.5/ 5

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