Just Rankin’ Sh!t

The 9 Most Realistic ‘Black Mirror’ Episodes, Ranked

One foot in reality, the other foot jammed deep in your saddened soul

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Endemol Shine UK via Netflix

9. ‘Be Right Back’ (Season 2, Episode 1)

Creating A.I. out of someone’s social media posts and writings is possible. Putting that A.I. into a convincingly humanlike body that isn’t just an uncanny valley disaster? Much less likely.

8. ‘Hang the DJ’ (S4, E4)

This surprisingly optimistic take on online dating depicts would-be lovers put through seemingly infinite sets of circumstances to determine their compatibility. But let’s be real — humans are just fine with smartphone-swiping their way into someone’s heart or bed.

7. ‘The Entire History of You’ (S1, E3)

Recording memories to video is an actual thing likely to happen in our lifetimes, but considering the storage and bandwidth currently required to do it at all — let alone record your entire life on the fly — this one is still a ways off. Thank God (and our neurotic obsessing over every stupid thing we’ve ever said) for that.

6. ‘San Junipero’ (S3, E4)

Perhaps the most beloved (and least soul-crushing) episode in the Black Mirror canon, this love story has roots in real-life ideas about the ability to store consciousness digitally for an infinite afterlife. Who’s to say heaven doesn’t exist in the clouds — or cloud?

5. ‘Striking Vipers’ (S5, E1)

Basically Brokeback Mountain meets Tekken. And if you know anybody who was really into Tekken, imagining them having hot VR sex in the game with their best bro doesn’t seem so implausible.

4. ‘Metalhead’ (S4, E5)

Two words: Boston Dynamics.

3. ‘The National Anthem’ (S1, E1)

Although our political discourse since the start of Black Mirror now more closely resembles the ridiculous circus of “The Waldo Moment,” this episode is a better bit of television with a much simpler premise: Would the prime minister of England actually fuck a pig on live TV to appease a terrorist? This is Black Mirror, so the answer is pretty obvious.

2. ‘Nosedive’ (S3, E1)

Modern-day social media isn’t much more ridiculous than the desperate swipes-for-likes thirst in this episode — just look at social credit systems in places like China. And we’ve all overreacted to slights against our online profiles one time or another. There’s a fine line between landing yourself in Instagram jail and actual imprisonment.

1. ‘Arkangel’ (S4, E2)

If you don’t believe parents would pay big money for technology allowing them to shield their kids from dangers, monitor their every move, and control their behavior, you haven’t met many helicopter parents. HELICOPTER PARENTS, YOU MUST CHILL!

Tech culture writer and podcaster, now freelancing in Texas. Bylines: Washington Post, WSJ, CNN, NPR, Texas Monthly. Here for all your wordy needs.

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