The “Twilight Zone for the digital age” is coming back, and soon. Netflix announced last week that new episodes of the dystopian anthology series Black Mirror will appear worldwide on the streaming service Oct. 21.
Originally on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom, Black Mirror moved to Netflix when the company bought the rights to distribute the show’s upcoming third season, which will consist of six standalone episodes. The series is equal parts suspenseful and biting, each episode a satirical take on modern reliance on technology.
And yet, Black Mirror‘s producers maintain that the show is not so much about the futuristic technology as it is about the people using it.
“Technology is never the villain in the show,” creator Charlie Brooker said at a Television Critics Association panel in Los Angeles, July 27. “It’s about human failings and human messes.”
“The tech is really not even present,” executive producer Annabel Jones said. “It’s about society and it’s about how we communicate, the online rage and the consequences of that.” But on Black Mirror, these human problems are presented through a dark vision of a future, steeped in incredible technological advances.
In the show’s best episode to date, “Be Right Back,” a grieving woman signs up for a service that conjures an online chatbot with her deceased partner’s personality and memories, using his social media profiles. She takes some comfort in talking to this thing, whatever it is, but soon, it’s not enough. Soon, she pays for an experimental phase of the service that sends her an android version of her dead boyfriend.
The underlying commentary, of course, is that the way we depict ourselves online is not truly us, and never will be. Lives can be reconstructed with details on the internet, but they will be hollow proxies of individuals. In its weird, dystopian way, “Be Right Back” used technology to make a quasi-religious argument for the uniqueness of each living person—for what some might call our souls.
Brooker wrote four of the six upcoming episodes. Other writers include actress Rashida Jones, best known for her roles in Parks and Recreation and The Office, and Dan Trachtenberg, who directed the critically acclaimed sci-fi jaunt 10 Cloverfield Lane. Actors in this batch of episodes include Bryce Dallas Howard, Alice Eve, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mackenzie Davis, Kelly MacDonald, Michael Kelly, and Jerome Flynn (better known as Bronn in Game of Thrones).