Over the past four seasons of Black Mirror, creator Charlie Brooker has established a winning formula for disturbing, stand-alone episodes set in recognisable but ominous dystopias that challenge us to reflect on the way technology is shaping our society. Last year, season three’s episode ‘San Junipero’ – a tale of two women finding unlikely love in a retro, digital afterlife – picked up an Emmy for its surprising, bittersweet ending and emotional punch. Here's why episode four of the new season, ‘Hang The DJ’, is a natural successor of ‘San Junipero’ and a seriously recommended watch...
What is the premise of ‘Hang the DJ’?
With dating apps like Tinder as its inspiration, the episode sees singletons Amy and Frank sign up to The System – a super-intelligent match-marking technology with a 99.8% success rate at finding you The One. However, users must first go through various ill-fitting relationships – all with a set expiry date – in order for The System to gather data on its users’ personalities, responses and traits. Amy and Frank go on a date and click immediately, only to find out their pairing will expire in 12 hours, after which they are thrown from one miserable relationship to the next, but can never quite stop thinking about each other…
What are people saying?
The Telegraph gave ‘Hang the DJ’ four stars, praising Brooker’s success in delivering a strong message “without being preachy” and with a “greater sense of hope than in the standard Black Mirror story”, but added that the ending felt “rushed”. The Metro calls the episode “a look at dating apps which will make you believe in true love”, while the Independent describes it as “very satisfying” but with central characters who seem “more like parodies of millennials than actual ones”.
What did SL think?
Black Mirror’s success comes from the unnerving proximity of the worlds it creates to our own. This episode portrays a dating app, not initially dissimilar to those many of us use in the real world, but with a stronger promise to ‘solve’ your search to find a partner; the hope it inspires in its users is chillingly familiar. There’s also an interesting ambiguity here, with ‘Hang the DJ’ asking you to consider the value of personal agency, chance and humanity in love.
The episode has a smaller scope and is slightly less cinematic than its esteemed predecessor ‘San Junipero’, but the sincerity of the central couple and their playful chemistry gives ‘Hang The DJ’ a disarming emotional weight. As soon as the credits rolled, we wanted to watch it all over again for a closer look.
The fourth series of Black Mirror is now available to watch on Netflix.com.