Nosedive is one of the most talked-about episodes of sci-fi TV anthology series Black Mirror. Let me first establish that it is definitely worth a watch.
Every episode is a different story set in an alternate reality, and characters unravel in a climate of exaggerated, experimental technology. Nosedive is the first episode of season 3, and also the first to be produced by Netflix after they outbid British Channel 4 for rights. It’s written by Charlie Brooker, Rashida Jones and Michael Schur.The result of an imaginably plush boost in budget is more polished production, preened further by the idyllic, paddlepop aesthetic of the dystopian world Nosedive is set in.
Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Ron Howard (director of Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, 8 Days A Week) put on 30 pounds (about 13.6kg) to play the role of Lacie the protagonist. The satirical episode projects a future in which everyone rates and is rated out of five stars by anyone they come in contact with – be it strangers, acquaintances or friends, via a monopolistic app utilised seamlessly by everyone.Validation of others based on one’s looks and perceived quality of life has become a need, not just a want. Life has essentially become a performance. Sound familiar?Except in Lacie’s world, the characters’ ratings very immediately depend on day-to-day interactions and determine the certainty and security of their livelihoods. It isn’t only far extrapolated from our current involvement with social media. One grave mistake could lead to a spiral beyond redemption, presuming the only ones who can help you recover your reputation refuse to at the expense of their own.
When his colleagues unanimously turn against him, Lacie’s colleague, Chaz, is disallowed from entering his workplace because his rating falls below 3.5. Too real.
In this episode, Lacie’s lease is up and she has to move out of her current place, which isn’t too shabby to start with (Hence the question: How much is enough?). She has her sights set on Pelican Cove, a beautiful home with stellar amenities that exemplify the “high life”. The only problem is that as a 4.2, she doesn’t qualify… yet.In the following days she charts a trajectory to 4.8 stars in the shortest possible time – by agreeing to be maid of honour at her oldest (not best) friend’s wedding, which would be populated by society’s crème de la crème sending five stars her way.
The bride-to-be, Naomie played by Alice Eve.
She makes her way across the country to deliver her speech, at the mercy of one poor decision after another. However, the classic Black Mirror shock factor seems to be missing, because we are led to think the outcome of Lacie’s decisions is deserved.
The most poignant episodes of Black Mirror are ones which play on the protagonist’s inherently harmless but exploited nature. We’re watching as morals and attitudes bow for self-preservation.For example, Kenny’s succession of decisions in Shut Up And Dance (S3E3) is devastating. An unassuming young chap is driven to depravity with his most intimate secrets in the wrong hands. In a world where information is king, it tears one apart to put self in his shoes. Alex Lawther absolutely kills in that episode, and I mean that in more ways than one. Next to Be Right Back (S2E1) and 15 Million Merits (S1E2), this is a must-watch.
“…my biggest fear is of some kind of dystopian future where we’re advanced in every way except in our humanity,” Bryce Howard told Interview Mag.
So while Nosedive isn’t nearly as dark and twisted as several other episodes, it is a stunning portrayal of man’s growing need for multiple realities in tandem with materialism, and how it dictates relationships with self and those around us. Lacie’s obsession with approval from a ubiquitous public makes it fundamentally relatable. Take a closer look and you would probably be able to relate to the seemingly distasteful character that is Naomie, even. There’s a bit of them in each one of us, and that’s what makes Black Mirror a humbling and near-horrifying commentary.