So You Blew Through All Six Episodes of Black Mirror, Season 4. Now What?
Record lows are hitting the U.S., and everyone I know is buried beneath layers of sweaters, huddled around the warm glow of their television, and binging on the latest season of the Netflix sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror. And I’m right there with them.
I need this show, I crave it; it is a cathartic, self-affirming experience. The show sees what I see — how inextricable rape culture is from nostalgia culture, how politics is just a reality TV show, and how our brains are just one big storage device to be downloaded, altered, uploaded, and catalogued. And if you’re like me, you watched all six episodes of the fourth season in record time. Where do you turn now?
Allow me to introduce you to The Truth, a podcast that makes short films without pictures. Full disclosure — I’m the associate producer for the show and a huge fan. I listened long before I ever worked on it, so I feel comfortable telling you HOW FREAKING GOOD IT IS! The Truth is nearly six years strong and growing, with a new episode every two weeks. Like Black Mirror, it’s an anthology series, so you can listen to any episode in any order. The Truth makes you a fly on the wall in a speculative fiction universe; expect to be surprised, scared, entertained, and deeply affected.
Here are five gateway episodes to get you hooked:
What if you had a device that could let you know, on a scale of 1 to 100, exactly how satisfied you’d be with any choice? “The Decider” turns deciding into a game, and explores the compulsive draw of the perfect score.
(Listen to this one if you liked the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive”.)
The internet makes it too easy to be mean and maintain anonymity while simultaneously making pranksters famous for posting videos of themselves with dead bodies or terrorizing unsuspecting passersby. In this story, one commenter succumbs to the allure of righteous condemnation.
(Listen to this one if you liked the Black Mirror episode “Hated in the Nation”.)
Sleep Some More
In this story, Dan is an ambitious college freshman whose new roommate Tom won’t stop talking… even in his sleep. It’s a gothic suspense tale that explores how far one man will go to get an “A” in Literature class.
(Listen to this one if you liked the Black Mirror episode “Crocodile”.)
This is a story about a man who’s cryogenically frozen in our present day, and revived centuries into the future. 30 Rock fans will recognize Scott Adsit as a former Silicon Valley rock-climbing gym owner whose second chance at life becomes a daily reminder that he’ll always be a relic from the past.
It’s a romance… kinda. A wish fulfillment story… kinda. And an utterly human look at whether a preserved life is worth living.
(Listen to this one if you liked the Black Mirror episode “San Junipero” plus actor Billy Griffin, Jr. is in both San Junipero AND Brain Chemistry!)
The Dark End of the Mall
Buying a wedding dress can truly be a life or death experience. In this story, we hear a desperate conversation between an exhausted and erratic man (Peter Grosz, whom you may remember from The President Show, Veep, and all those Sonic commercials) and a bubbly bridal shop attendant (Lauren Adams, from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). It was written by Casper Kelly, the genius who brought the world “Too Many Cooks”.
(Listen to this one if you liked the Black Mirror episode “Metalhead”.)
Oh — and this is important — listen with headphones! You’ll find The Truth is as aurally stunning as Black Mirror is visually stunning. There’s nothing else out there that sounds like The Truth. More than once while walking down a quiet street I had to press “stop” to figure out which sounds were coming from my earbuds and which sounds were coming from my environment. Head to thetruthpodcast.com or you favorite podcatching device and download every episode now. You’re going to love it — especially if you love staring into the black mirror of a darkened screen and asking, “What are you doing to me?!”