Black Mirror: 3.01 Nosedive

It's been over three years since season 2 of Black Mirror concluded on Channel 4, so season 3 has been long awaited. Now though Charlie Brooker's satirical look at modern society and our relationship with technology is on Netflix. The first episode, Nosedive, is directed by Joe Wright, and stars Bryce Dallas Howard, a testament not only to the increased budgets now available through Netflix, but also the talent that Brooker's creation attracts.

Nosedive is set in a world where every social interaction is ranked out of five, collated and communicated via app. Social and financial opportunities are restricted by ranking, a gamified representation of the opportunity afforded and awarded by social status. Discounts for people with a ranking above a score of 4.5, access to higher quality rental cars or hospital beds. And, reciprocally, only the worst opportunities in life for those of low rankings, and all the judgements that go with that.
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Howard plays Lacie, a 4.2 desperate to raise her rankings by whatever means necessary. Fake smiles and faked special moments, to be ranked sufficiently high to feel a semblance of contentment with life. To aid her hollow quest, she intends to go to the wedding of a childhood friend with a high ranking, hoping to use the opportunity to improve her social standing with the high-scoring guests. If the title of the episode wasn't sufficient a clue, events conspire against her. Accidents and mishaps occur, a tragedy of errors that she continually tries to plaster over with more well-intended fakeness as her world crumbles around her. Her sense of self and value sinking like her scores.

There are plenty of stories, in our real world, of people faking perfect lives and perfect moments, for a photo specifically engineered to garner Likes, Favourites, Retweets and the assumed social standing that goes along with that. While social standing has no direct numeric score in this life, there is no denying that it does have an impact on the opportunities afforded us, and how people react to us. It is this atmosphere that Brooker is attempting to skewer, to remind us of the hollowness of it, that attempting to be someone else for the acclaim of others is self-defeating.

Between Brooker's story, Wright's directing and Howard's on point acting, the first episode of the new season of Black Mirror is a success. While some may find the glossy, almost saccharine feel too much, it fitted the story and theme perfectly. And as Lacie's nosedive commenced, that super-sweet taste evaporated, leaving a cathartic, expletive-filled smile.

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