It is undeniable, the impact the British show Black Mirror has had on pop culture. From social commentary on technology to dystopian futures, each new episode feels like a deep dive into a terrifying new world that’s starting to look all too familiar. Producers Charlton Brooker and Annabel Jones are the minds behind the sensation and they talked all about creating the hit show at Vulture Festival this year.

Despite the depressing feeling that Black Mirror is almost guaranteed to leave you with, both Brooker and Jones were lively and optimistic about the current times and our use of technology. Brooker, a seasoned comedian, lead the crowd through his perspective on the material and on the questions posed, while Jones grounded the conversations back to the topic at hand. Here are some of our highlights from their panel.

Panel Highlights

  • Brooker didn’t hold back on the jokes during the panel, and within ten minutes of the panel starting, he was joking about Trump and the events of “National Anthem.”
  • Brooker and Jones seem to have a plethora of material to work from for their future seasons, and remained tight-lipped on teasing anything for the audience. Though Brooker did joke, “By this point, they probably have a USB to plug into a head and 3D print out their thoughts. That’s an episode idea!”
  • In response to when he first saw people lining up and clamoring for the first iPhone, Brooker said that it felt like the first act of a dystopian movie to him. 
  • He also talked about his characters and how it is easier for him to write stories about them when the main character is relatable to him. 
  • Technology obviously plays a major role in the series, as one of its main totems it often guides the episode. Jones commented on some of the extravagant tech that we’ve seen, such as the ability to rewind through your life or the ability to store your mind in a server and live forever, “It’s got to be grounded. You’ve got to be seduced.”
  • There have been an innumerable amount of comparisons made of Black Mirror to The Twilight Zone. Brooker made the analogy that technology plays the same role in Black Mirror as the supernatural did in The Twilight Zone.
  • He also talked about Rod Sterling and his ability to create metaphors on racism and McCarthyism through the scope of The Twilight Zone. 
  • Brooker also said, “Satire reminds everybody that you’re not the only one who thinks this world is crazy.”
  • Jones talked about a person’s relationship with their screen, and how that can damage a person’s outlook. “If you have a singular relationship with your screen, where is your moral guide? Where is your framework?”
  • While Black Mirror certainly has some terrifying prospects, what’s more terrifying is how real the show can feel sometimes. Brooker seemed to hint at darker prospects to come, saying, “I really hope that the things we do [this season] don’t continue to come true.”
  • In talking about the entertainment that he enjoyed, Brooker said, “I liked things that were willfully disturbing,” and things that got a visceral response. It definitely speaks a lot to the way that Black Mirror is written and conceived. 
  • One of the darker moments of the show never made it to the screen simply because it would be too depressing. Brooker said that in “San Junipero” there was going to be a scene in which Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) goes to visit children in a garden in San Junipero, and you realize that all these are dead children.
  • Brooker also talked about the speed in which technology and the world moves, and that there were certain topical episodes that they wanted to write that they knew wouldn’t make it, because by the time it comes out it’ll be outdated. One such episode was called “Snowflake.”
  • Jones also talked about the internet culture and reality tv culture these days, saying, “When you grow up willingly humiliating yourself for fame, that does something to your psyche.”
  • And although in the US, we have whole staffs of writers in their writers’ room crafting stories, Brooker, himself, tends to be the main writer, and revealed that they do not have a writers’ room for Black Mirror.
  • And, for those of you wishing that the show would revisit some of their carefully crafted worlds. Jones and Brooker said that they’d be open to the idea of following up on stories in universes that they’ve finished.

There’s still no defined date for the release of Season 4 of Black Mirror, but there are a few things that we know as of right now. We know that there will be episodes directed by Jodie Foster, Toby Haynes (Sherlock & Being Human), John Hillcoat (Lawless), Tim Van Patten (Boardwalk Empire), and David Slade (American Gods), and a potential list of titles of some of the episodes. An episode titled “Crocodile” is reported to be an Australia-set episode and one titled “USS Callister” is expected to be set in space. The final episode, which is still lacking a director, is said to be inspired by magician Penn Jillette, and features a three-strand plot set in a remote Las Vegas museum (Source). 

For now, all we can do is wait and maybe read a couple dozen fan theories. Black Mirror is set to return next year on Netflix, and we can’t wait. 

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