This What to Watch Wednesday, I’d like to take a moment for the anthology, which is having a moment of its own right now.
Now the modern anthology has taken a variety of forms. Some would, for instance, make a case for everything Ryan Murphy is working on right now, “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story” and “Feud,” not to mention “Fargo” and “True Detective” too.
Each of those shows starts with a new story each season, with some crossover and connections, a repertory cast in some cases, but no story arc continuation. These shows are all great in their own way, but they’re not my favorite kind of anthology.
For that, I’ll direct you to the anthology series nearest and dearest to my heart, “Black Mirror.” This UK import sci-fi series (from the sci-fi capital of the world) turned Netflix Original Series. tells a different story in every episode. Mind blown. Right?
The show has hinted at possible connections, but each episode is its own story that can stand completely on its own. No previous viewing is required (but you may need to take a break after some of them).
Yes, in a world that runs on binge-viewing, I present to you a show that will require that you “take a moment” (or possibly a month) between episodes. Seriously, “Black Mirror” covers some heavy stuff. The premises vary (widely), but every episode takes a long hard look at human nature usually with a connection to technology. Spoiler alert: Most of these don’t end well.
The short format has another wonderful feature — these stories are tight. There’s no fluff, no filler. It’s simple, clean (albeit bleak at times), focused storytelling. And though the premises are dark, I would say that it leaves room for your own judgment and really does make you think of where we are, where we could be headed, and how it could change us (for good or bad).
Regardless of what your take is, few anthologies are having a bigger moment than “Black Mirror.” It’s moment is so big, Amazon is doing its best to get in on it too (and I don’t blame them). I haven’t seen “Electric Dreams,” but based purely on title, I think we can tell who the optimist is in this anthological battle.
So welcome to the anthologies, Amazon. If the plots of these series are to be believed, the future might not be bright for humanity, but at least for the time-being it’s a golden age for anthologies.