Black Mirror

Varieties of ingenuity ... Human ingenuity comes in many forms: some impressive and useful, some banal and even dangerous. In addition, human ingenuity can be found in very different fields - as shown by the material in this page, which shows how ingenuity in story-telling can help understand ingenuity in technology... and more significantly, debate the moral issues involved in technological innovation. It may be impressive that human beings can do ingenious things, but should those things be done?


Kelly Knight & Caroline Leahy teach at the British School of Barcelona


´Black Mirror´ is a dystopian series currently available for free on Netflix. Each episode is around 45 minutes in length, set in the future, (often a believable one) and tells a different story about what our future reality could be like. It deals with the darker side of human ingenuity as its most common theme, often questioning society´s relationship with technology and social media. There are also a lot of cross overs from the other prescribed themes, so it serves well as a text that can be watched within 1 lesson and then used as a spring-board stimulus to go on to cover plenty of other issues.

The writer of the show, Charlie Brooker, is a well-known writer and journalist in the UK, known for his satirical style, often criticising politics and society.

There are plenty of episodes that students could enjoy and would work well in relation to the prescribed themes, but below are details of 5 episodes that we recommend you could focus on.

  • White Bear: Season 2 Episode 2 - Crime and punishment, ethics, the power of conformity
  • Nose Dive: Season 3 Episode 1 - Social media, technology, fitting in with society
  • Be Right Back: Season 2 episode 1 - Cloning, social media, ethics surrounding technology. This episode contains an explicit scene at 31min-35min
  • Metal Head- Season 4 Episode 4 - Robots, Artificial Intelligence
  • 15 Million Merits: Season 1 Episode 2 - Reality TV, social organisation, government control This episode contains an explicit scene 41min-45min

Please make sure that you watch any episodes first to decide whether it is entirely appropriate for your group. It may be necessary to fast forward some inappropriate scenes of sex or violence. 


      White Bear: Season 2 Episode 2 

      This episode is about a woman who wakes up and can´t remember anything. She is chased and filmed by crowds of people and doesn´t know why. At the end we discover she is a criminal experiencing a perverse form of punishment, used for entertainment.

      White Bear deals with themes such as social media, social justice, government control, ethics surrounding crime and punishment, the power of conformity/ mob culture and public opinion.

      Stimuli and lesson ideas:

      > Write a news article about the damaging effects of social media

      > Class debate on the justice system and how criminals should be punished, (this could also link to the relationship between gender and crime).

      > TOK questions surrounding the ethics of law and crime

      > Amnesty death penalty debate

      > George Orwell´s ´A Hanging´ (find it online ... or see handout below)

      Nose Dive: Season 3 Episode 1

      This episode is about a world where we are rated on a social media app, (like an uber taxi driver), for everything we do and every interaction we have. It follows a woman who needs to have a high star rating in order to get the apartment she wants.

      Nose Dive deals with themes such as social media, mental health, compliance, social pressures and expectations to appear ´normal´, gender expectations, the need for acceptance and opulence.

      Stimuli and lesson ideas:

      > BBC News report on China and how citizens are tracked to ensure they are law abiding. 

      > Debate on whether social media has a positive or negative impact on our mental health

      > Technology research project in which students investigate an aspect of technology in their lives, write a report/ create a video vlog/ write a blog on their findings, and present it to a larger audience as part of a speaking and listening project eg.

      • What links are there between mental health and Instagram?
      • How have gender expectations changed over time due to social media?
      • What happened when I tried to last one week without technology…

      > Guardian opinion article criticising Facebook ´With Friends Like These´. 

      15 Million Merits: Season 1 Episode 2

      This episode contains an explicit scene 41min-45min.

      This is set in a virtual reality world in which society needs to collect ´merits´ in a point system in order to be able to compete in an X Factor style competition show to escape.

      Stimuli and lesson ideas:

      > Article on mental health and reality TV 

      > Write a speech arguing for/against reality TV/ Netflix/ social media

      ** stimulus: Ding Dong Debate on social expectations due to the media/ reality TV

      > TED talk on social media  

      > Spoken word poem on youtube ´Touchscreen´.   

      > Dystopian fiction eg.

      Orwell´s ´1984´ ...

      ´The Handmaid´s Tale´  ...  (Clip from A Handmaid´s Tale television series )

      Suzanne Collins´ ´The Hunger Games´ ... 

      Huxley´s ´Brave New World´  

      Be Right Back : Season 2 Episode 1

      This episode contains an explicit scene at 31min-35min

      This episode is about a young woman whose boyfriend is killed in a car accident. Using intelligence from his social media accounts, she is able to communicate with an imitation of her dead boyfriend and ultimately creates a replica of him.  The inspiration of the episode comes from the idea that Twitter posts could be made by software mimicking dead people and raises issues surrounding the ethics of cloning.

      Stimuli and lesson ideas:

      > Ethics and Cloning/Gender selection/Genetic modification


      > Human clones; Through the wormhole (video)  

      > TED Talk:  How to create a world where no one dies waiting for a transplant  

      > Fertility Expert: ´I can clone a human being´ (newspaper article – The Independent)  

      > TED Talk The ethical dilemma of designer babies  

      > Debate on IVF for sex selection

      > Write a News Report on the first cloned human

      Metal Head: Season 4 Episode 4

      This episode follows the plight of Bella (Maxine Peake) trying to flee from robotic "dogs" after the unexplained collapse of human society. The dogs were influenced by Boston Dynamics' robots such as BigDog.  The episode makes clear links with other dystopian texts e.g The Terminator and The Hunger Games

      Stimuli and lesson ideas:

      > Mark Manson article on AI takeover ´I, for One, Welcome our AI Overloads´

      (and by the way, see this page already on this site - Interviewing an AI )

      > Articles on AI advancement - Jigsaw peer share

      > The Driverless Car - stimulus for the writing task below...

      Paper 1 – Writing Task

      You recently attended a presentation about the advancement and dangers of driverless cars and are concerned about their potential risks.  You would like to raise awareness and instigate debate on the topic.  Choose an appropriate text type and write 450-600 words

      > Extracts from The Hunger Games or other dystopian type text for Oral Presentations

      > Oral presentations based on a dystopian image

      > Clip from WALL-E : Is this utopia or dystopia?  

      > Write the opening to your own dystopian story

      There are so many ways in which you can use Black Mirror to encourage your students to engage in current debates, topics and texts that will both inspire and challenge them.  Choose the material that best fits with your group and enjoy! 
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