Where'd the dystopia go?(this review contains spoilers)
I have been a fan of Black Mirror since the first season came out in 2011 on the UK's Channel 4. Since then the series has been bought by Netflix and has gradually been toned down. In my opinion (and I think I'm not alone here), the first couple of seasons and the Christmas Special under Channel 4 were the most harrowing. Initially, Netflix released their fair share of traumatizing episodes too - Shut Up and Dance, and Nosedive spring to mind. But Netflix also introduced some episodes that were neither sick nor twisted. In fact they were not even tragedies - they actually had happy endings. I'm thinking of San Junipero and Hang the DJ. My guess is that Netflix looked at their view counts and found that these episodes brought in a large new crowd of viewers who didn't want to see dystopian futures but who liked a good love story with a happy ending. And now Season 5 is almost entirely in that vein. Its out of character with what I had come to love and expect from Black Mirror, so straight up I'm deducting half a star. We've got two episodes with happy endings and one that is tragic, but certainly not twisted. It feels like Netflix are playing it pretty safe and pandering to the mainstream, which is a shame because Black Mirror always used to be a show that set the trend for existential angst - audience be damned.
All that said, I still really enjoyed this season. The stories were inventive and the acting was superb. I liked the episode with Miley Cyrus in a coma the most - Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too. Striking Vipers (two straight dudes making out in a VR video game as a man and a woman) came in a close second. Smithereens I was not such a fan of. The hostage situation was tense - well directed and well acted - but in the end the plot and the underlying message were a bit of a nothingburger; so I'll deduct half a star there too.