Has Black Mirror signalled game-over for traditional TV?

Amy Brown evaluates Black Mirror's recent innovative venture involving interactive TV

Amy K Brown
21st February 2019
Bandersnatch star Stefan (Fionn Whitehead)

Netflix original series Black Mirror has been a favourite for a few years now, catering to people’s weird curiosities and contributing to not so far-fetched conspiracy theories. Every episode is a stand-alone drama, each one exploring different fears of our modern world and possible consequences of technology.

Fans began speculating on whether they were getting a new season of the show this year, and it was only the day before the release of Bandersnatch that a trailer was dropped. In case you managed to miss the hype Bandersnatch, is an interactive episode in which the viewer makes decisions for the main character, Stefan (Fionn Whitehead).

Set in the 80s, Stefan is creating a game named Bandersnatch, a choose your own adventure game like the episode itself. We watch and play along as it takes a toll on his mental health and everything around him. It is a creepy commentary on free will or lack thereof. If you’ve ever been into adventure games, this concept will be more familiar to you. We go from making trivial decisions to seriously disturbing ones, leaving audiences shocked and aware of our own desensitisation. It makes you never want to touch technology again. There was mixed reviews for Bandersnatch, some thinking it was too gimmicky to be associated with the original Black Mirror. It may feel slightly different to the show we know and love, but the immersion is what brings it back. Black Mirror is known for pulling you into a story and not letting you go until the very end. Bandersnatch certainly does this.

Black Mirror is known for pulling you into a story and not letting you go until the very end. Bandersnatch certainly does this.


You can end up watching this episode for hours, your decisions sending you in circles and it coming out with a different ending each time. You will want to keep going until you have seen everything. There is something unsettling about having this much control over something that we are used to just sitting down and watching with no second thought. The sophisticated storytelling of Bandersnatch is impressive, along with the intricate details that change depending on our decisions. It may leave you exhausted but it will also leave you thinking, which is what Black Mirror is all about. The writing and storytelling lives up to the original TV show but the complexity of the format is what some viewers could not get behind. Being sent in loops can be frustrating, and it may distract you from the story. Bandersnatch is very time consuming. Obviously, that is part of the deal with an adventure game style feature. But it becomes a case of do you want to see this spinoff or play a game? The choice is yours. It is worth having a go and it makes for an exciting conversation topic. For those who weren’t so keen, Black Mirror is expected to return for a fifth season soon.

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AUTHOR: Amy K Brown
Head of Culture. @akathrynbrwn on Twitter.

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