7 Recent TV shows that are genuinely cinematic

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Black Mirror

I’ve been entertained by most of Black Mirror’s episodes, but it’s a wildly uneven TV show. While 60% of the episodes the series has produced to date are good to great, the remaining 40% range from bad to awful. The inconsistency comes from creator Charlie Brooker’s obsession with the notion that technology erodes empathy. Installments that are focused on Brooker’s pet theme are a chore to watch. However, the episodes that are focused on examining the different ways technology is actually changing the human condition are transcendent.

Still, quality aside, Black Mirror does possess a cinematic elan. Its dedication to telling stories visually makes the series incredibly engrossing. Brooker and his collaborators have a real knack for creating credible dystopias. This is in large part due to how the series depicts future tech. No matter how fantastic, its electronics always look and are treated like some advanced generation of Apple products. That parameter makes the show feel grounded and modern. As does the show’s habit of borrowing the visual aesthetics of popular TV shows and movies wholesale. Accordingly, the show can feel as huge as sci-fi blockbuster or as intimate as a Scandi noir thriller.

The series is at its best when it uses its uncommonly strong visuals in service of telling stories about the importance and fragility of human relationships. Episodes like “Be Right Back,” “The Entire History of You” and “San Junipero” have a cinematic heft that puts Black Mirror separates the series from everything else on television.