Can we just take a minute to talk about how f*cking good Black Mirror is? With four seasons under its belt, dozens of unexpected twists, a whole host of incredible actors, and countless hours spent mulling over some of the more confronting episodes (Shut Up And Dance, anyone?) Black Mirror has cemented itself as one of the most innovative and interesting science fiction shows since The Twilight Zone.
Following an anthology format (for those not in the lingo, that means each episode has a new cast and a new story), Black Mirror holds a magnifying glass over our evolving relationship with technology, at times making you laugh (parts of it are surprisingly funny) and at other times making you gasp (oh my god the PIG). It is funny, twisted, confronting, messy and stunningly produced, making it a fantastic show to binge watch when you’ve cancelled those plans with friends for an evening better spent on the couch. If you haven’t watched it yet, why are you reading this? Please go log into Netflix and sequester yourself for the next three days – you have a lot of catching up to do.
However, if you have watched Black Mirror and are looking for something equally juicy to fill the void in your life, read on for our pick of the seven shows to watch if you liked Black Mirror.
With only three episodes to its name, this sci-fi horror is painfully short, feeling more like instalments of a movie rather than a TV show. Despite this, it still manages to pack a thrilling and entertaining punch. Residue follows the story of Jennifer Preston (Natalia Tena), a photojournalist who, after an explosion at a futuristic nightclub on New Year’s Eve, stumbles across a web of government conspiracies and paranormal events. The Observer describes it as a mash-up of “Black Mirror, Strange Days, Blade Runner, Prometheus, Resident Evil, 28 Days Later, Cabin in the Woods or any plot that could be described as ‘ghost in the machine-y’ or ‘based on the work of Philip K. Dick.’” It’s uncomfortably creepy, exudes a weird energy, and yet, with neon-drenched visuals, is gorgeously atmospheric and seriously captivating.
Orphan Black (2013)
If you haven’t heard of Orphan Black then it is time to crawl out from under of that rock you’ve been hiding under and treat yourself to this incredible sci-fi thriller. The story follows Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany), a woman who uncovers a huge conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of Elizabeth Childs, a woman who is her identical clone. Manning then adopts her identity, and the story that follows questions the moral and ethical implications cloning can have on personal identity, all while wrapped up in an entertaining and action-packed thriller. While the season two Black Mirror episode Be Right Back also touches upon issues of cloning and identity, Orphan Black delves deeper, revealing a network of clones across Europe and North America that are being knocked off one at a time. The story is incredibly well written, taking viewers on an ever-twisting adventure through a not-too-distant future. It’s also worth noting that Maslany has been widely celebrated for her role in Black Orphan due to her captivating performance of over half a dozen characters. So. Damn. Good.
American Horror Story (2011)
American Horror Story, or, AHS as the diehards call it, is seriously addictive. With seven seasons currently released and another two in the works, AHS was major in reviving the now wildly popular anthology format, which we see everywhere from Fargo and True Detective to American Crime Story and Love. Each season follows a different terrifying (and at times, unsettling) story that is addictive to watch. Asylum (which follows the story of the patients and staff at an institution for the criminally insane) and Coven (a story of a witch coven battling it out in New Orleans under the careful tutelage of my love, Sarah Paulson) are two of the most critically acclaimed seasons, but with stories covering everything from freak show performers to a supernatural hotel, you can pick your poison and delve into any season of your choosing.
This Brazilian dystopian thriller, adapted from a YouTube short film, is a Portuguese-language masterpiece. It tells the story of a futuristic Sao Paulo where poverty-stricken young people take part in a series of mental, physical and social challenges in the hope of reaching the “better side” of a world divided between wealth and devastation. With only 3% of competitors ever succeeding, it is an interesting commentary on issues surrounding immigration and inequality, at a time when countries across the world are assessing their stance on these very issues. While it might sound a little too much like “Hunger Games”, the story is nuanced in such a way that feels all too real. 3% was developed with a fairly small budget of only $3M, but its incredible storyline, talented cast, and expert production make it must-watch show for Black Mirror fans. FYI: season two is coming soon!
Mr Robot (2015)
Firstly, Rami Malek is absolutely amazing and we won’t hear a bad word against him. Secondly, Mr Robot is incredible. Elliot Alderson, played by our boy Malek, is a cybersecurity engineer who suffers from social anxiety, depression and dissociative identity disorder. He is recruited by an anarchist individual known as Mr Robot and joins an underground group of hacktivists. Their goal? To delete debt records and encrypt financial data in order to undermine the largest conglomerate in the world, E Corp. No small feat, even if you are part of a cyber-vigilante network… Overall, Mr Robot is a social commentary on 21st-century capitalism and will have you rethinking everything you think you know about our society. With dozens of awards and nominations under its belt, it’s definitely one to watch.
Science fiction meets western thriller in this incredible, genre-bending TV show from Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (the former who has collaborated with his brother Christopher Nolan on films such as Memento, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, and Interstellar). Westworld follows the story of a technologically advanced Wild West-themed amusement park inhabited by androids that are indistinguishable from humans. Wealthy guests can immerse themselves in the narrative of the park and engage in any activities they want without any fear of danger or retaliation from the android occupants, which are programmed to follow a set of narratives. But, as is to be expected with sci-fi thrillers, everything is not as it seems… With incredible performances from the likes of Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, James Marsden and Luke Hemsworth, this is a show you can binge all weekend long.
Sense 8 (2015)
Things get intense in this sci-fi drama, whereby eight strangers from around the world suddenly become “sensates”: people who are mentally and emotionally linked to one another. This psychic connection means that the individuals can sense and communicate with one another, and also share their knowledge, language and skills. Sounds pretty cool, but sh*t hits the fan when members of the “Biologic Preservation Organisation” start to hunt them down. The show explores topics such as evolution, identity, sexuality, religion and politics in a different way to other sci-fi shows, making it a truly captivating and exciting story to watch unfold. Also, the cast is AMAZING. Seriously.
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