Debates around empowerment, diminishment and parental roles in modern society are metaphorically dissected in 'Roar'.
2016 kicked off with Netflix’s original documentary series that spread like wildfire across the internet. It had people talking and, significantly, debating whether accused murder Steven Avery is in fact guilty or not. HBO’s sixth season of the epic fantasy drama is kind of a given for being amongst the most gripping, shocking, and impressive shows every year, and the latest episodes are no different.
Game of Thrones came back from its dour 5th season with three of the greatest episodes of the year. Netflix continued to make incredible shows, from the animated anthropomorphic wise-cracks of Bojack Horseman to the nostalgic delights of Stranger Things. Disclaimer: I’m only picking my favourites based on the episodes we were given IN 2016.
Whilst there were many great episodes, it was perhaps this penultimate one that resonates hardest. Focusing on John Lithgow’s wonderful turn as Winston Churchill, the episode delves into his past as he sits for a birthday portrait and we learn about his demons. The preceding hour was also full of revelations, intrigue and character study that made the prior nine episodes worth every second.
If you’ve been keeping up on your television over the course of the topsy turvy year, you’ll no doubt have seen the devastation of Cersei’s monstrous mind in the Game of Thrones finale, the nostalgic brilliance of Stranger Things, as well as the natural wonder that is Planet Earth II. Apart from an array of talented actors ranging from Bryce Dallas Howard, to Jerome Flynn, to Gugu Mbatha-Raw, to Benedict Wong, it’s the stories they tell that are most significant and ultimately so timely.
Black Mirror hasn’t taken on spoilers yet, but if it does I imagine there’s a fate worse than death for people who ignore spoiler warnings and then complain about something being ruined] This year’s new season of Black Mirror has been somewhat of a highlight for Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s brainchild showing us dark, twisted dystopic versions of society, offering didactic teachings of everything that could possibly go wrong with humanities increasing reliance on technology. It’s always been a favourite of mine because there are a small handful of television shows that dare to portray worlds and characters that are bleak and depressed, with nothing being quite as bleak and depressing as the first two series of Black Mirror. Surprisingly the show’s third season is no different, despite being extended by three episodes and broadcast via Netflix rather than conventional means. Whilst only ‘Shut Up and Dance’ came close to matching some of the first two season’s episodes in terms of sheer unadulterated numbing bleakness like ‘Be Right Back’ or ’15 Million Merits’, episodes like ‘Playtest’ and ‘Men Against Fire’ came close.
They’re both popular British television dramas that have been met with international acclaim and prestige; they’re also both, arguably, science-fiction programs, although of course there’s plenty of room for each to lean into different genres. Arguably, beyond these similarities there’s not a great deal that links these two shows; perhaps, though, that’s what gives one room to learn from the other…
What it’s about: Episode two of Black Mirror’s second series, The Waldo Moment is about a cartoon character that runs for political office. How it’s like Trump: Both Waldo and Trump are oafish, abrasive characters, who first rose to prominence in a reality TV setting, and were able to find appeal amongst a disillusioned electorate due to seemingly existing outside of the political elite. Again, much like Trump, it soon becomes clear that Waldo is just as much, if not more, of a member of the establishment – underneath all the bluster and the proclivity towards penis jokes, he’s just a rich old white man, looking to further his own agenda and become more powerful.
An authoritarian demagogue who lacks both the experience and the temperament to hold America’s highest national office, Trump can also add racism, misogyny, and a flagrant disregard for the truth to his astonishing list of “qualifications”. While contemplating his meteoric rise to power, though, it occurred to me I’d seen this before: in the Black Mirror episode The Waldo Moment. Charlie Brooker once said that Black Mirror is “about the way we live now – and the way we might be living in 10 minutes’ time if we’re clumsy.” That quote has never felt more painfully applicable than right now, with the clear parallels between Donald Trump and Waldo.