Black Mirror offers up an unusually uplifting hour in this episode set in the world of futuristic dating…
Imagine if there was an app that could tell you who your perfect match is? All of us would love to believe in something like that. But would you trust it, when it forced you to break up with someone you really liked and paired you up with people you had no connection with? Would you go along with it and assume the algorithm is correct or would you trust your gut and stuff the System or, as the title of this episode puts it, “Hang the DJ”?
After one of the show’s bleakest ever hours, writer Charlie Brooker thankfully gives us a welcome respite from the gloom with a more hopeful look at the wonders of technology. Sporting two wonderful performances from Georgina Campbell and Joe Cole, “Hang the DJ” follows the brilliantly sweet, awkward, funny romance between Amy and Frank.
The story is an incredibly topical one, as the landscape of dating is so reliant on apps and websites doing the job for us nowadays. Rarely for this show, it doesn’t paint this reliance on tech as necessarily leading us down a dark path and instead basks in the power of love. Personally, I enjoy Black Mirror most when its darkness is tempered with some optimism so I found this to be one of the most effective episodes so far this season.
Of course, from its placing in the series to its content, “Hang the DJ” is very clearly a spiritual and thematic sequel to last year’s episode 4 “San Junipero.” Now, that was my personal favourite TV episode of 2017, so it’s fair enough that this one doesn’t quite measure up, but it’s still a joy to watch. I can’t be the only one who was welling up when Amy and Frank finally escaped the confines of the System and chose each other.
But, as ever with Black Mirror, there is a troubling element to the otherwise spirit-lifting ending. While the A.I. Amy and Frank stuck it to the System and proved their love, the real-life Amy and Frank are arguably mindlessly following what their phones tell them to do. Sure, we most likely know that they are meant for each other, but they won’t experience that strife and heartbreak that made the A.I. versions’ passions so intense. So has a story of true love just been born or has a virtual one just ended?
That’s the question we’re left to ponder, but all I know is that “Hang the DJ” was a pleasantly uplifting episode. It might not be quite as good as “San Junipero” but I’m happy for the Black Mirror emotional romance episode to become a tradition each season.
Cameos And Callbacks:
- After the glut of easter eggs in “Crocodile”, there aren’t many references to past episodes in this one, though there are echoes of previous storylines. The twist that the characters are actually artificial intelligences playing out a simulation for the benefit of their real-life counterparts is similar to the reveal at the end of “White Christmas.”
- Harry Potter fans may recognise the annoyingly cheery woman talking about how the System always finds your perfect match as Jessie Cave, Ron’s girlfriend Lavender Brown from The Half-Blood Prince.