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'Black Mirror' - 'Nosedive' - A Pastel-Coloured Nightmare

This 'Black Mirror' episode may have the lightest tone in contrast to the rest of the series, but still provides a dark foretelling of our social values today.

Striving from the norm of typical Black Mirror episodes with its comical tone and bright aesthetic, "Nosedive" immediately establishes its own unique approach to the social commentary the series is known for. Based on a story by series creator Charlie Brooker, but written for screen by Parks and Recreation veterans Rashida Jones and Michael Schur, the tone for this episode differs dramatically from bleak parables such as Metalhead and White Bear with emphasis on more stylised dialogue and cinematography as well as a memorable score by Max Richter. This makes it quite striking as an opening episode and sets the standard for the now higher budget series after the buy-out from Netflix with access to more realised technology in the props department shaping much meaning for the episode. The new studio partnership between the UK and America also means that more exaggerated culture can be addressed within the series itself. This is true for this episode as with star Bryce Dallas Howard perfectly cast as a desperate socialite aiming for higher ranking from her peers in order to improve her socioeconomic status and achieve the manipulatively marketed dream home with a holographic display of what partner appeals to her.

Howard’s protagonist Lacie is typically shallow and social media obsessed upon first introduction perfecting the most authentic and audibly tuned laugh and striving for the appropriate amount of tears to use to provoke a significant emotional response. Howard eases through this but the difficulty of her performance arises as her character gradually loses control of her ranking in a desperate attempt to get to her “best friend’s” (an appropriately superficial Alice Eve) wedding to be maid of honour in front of the most upper class and most artificial people. Howard creates empathy by drawing out the relatability of her character as she spirals under the weight of people’s most shallow tendencies, being one starred on the freeway for no other reason other than the gain of power and being made a pariah for pure honesty.

In all aspects, "Nosedive" explicitly details the impact of competitive social media with the prioritising of façades over reality with fine-tuned hammy performances supporting a fully realised lead performance deservedly recognised by the Screen Actors Guild Awards and helmed with flashy auteur style by director Joe Wright. Some viewers complain about the episode feeling too far away from the traditional norm or being too predictable but the predictability heightens the dramatic impact due to emphasising how we know our worst tendencies affect people and with the show’s run showing strength in popularity new directions need to be explored for the show to still be able to deliver fresh social commentary.  

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'Black Mirror' - 'Nosedive' - A Pastel-Coloured Nightmare
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