Black Mirror, Season 2 (2013)

(Netflix Streaming, November 2017) Well, if you’re feeling too optimistic about your life, the world or what humans are capable of doing to each other with a little bit of technological help, have fun with this second season of Black Mirror (including the unusually bleak “White Christmas” special). If the first season left you with nightmares, this one won’t be any easier to stomach, with “White Bear” and “White Christmas,” in particular, being particularly able to give you fits of guilt at being part of the human species. “White Bear” talks about our capacity for righteous indignation and how rage can become an entertainment experience (hilariously enough, the credit sequence plays like a hideous making-of), while “White Christmas” simply points out how eager we are to enslave even ourselves. But I summarize too much: part of the pleasure of Black Mirror’s twisted effectiveness is finding out that what we think we see on-screen isn’t what’s really happening. Better production values and bigger names (such as Jon Hamm and Oona Chaplin in “White Christmas”) help make the show even better. Still, there’s more to Black Mirror than simple bleakness. Episodes such as “Be Right Back” show that series creator Charlie Brooker is also able to touch upon more complex emotions than simple revulsion. But then, of course, you have “The Waldo Moment” which, in its critique of cheap populism, rather depressingly anticipates that a buffoon could in fact be elected in a position of power. After the way the first season’s “The National Anthem” proved stomach-churningly prescient, maybe someone should keep tabs on what Charlie Brooker has in store for Black Mirror’s third season…

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