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Black Mirror: why show made major change to season 6

Why did Black Mirror’s creator go back to the past?

Anjana Vasan as Nida in Black Mirror
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
19 June 2023
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Black Mirror season six has been widely praised by fans and critics alike, with many noticing a key difference between the latest stories from previous seasons. In season six, three out of the five episodes are set in the past. Since the show is mostly known for presenting dystopian futures in regards to advancing technology, this is a huge change up for the show’s format - but why was it done? 

Chatting about the decision to mix things up, the show’s creator Charlie Brooker explained: "It was really really useful as a sort of refresh - a reset. When Black Mirror started, it was 2011 and at the time, there weren’t many shows that looked like it or there weren’t many shows where someone looked at a smartphone frankly, let alone obsessed over one and sat there staring at it until it ruined them. It felt like there’s quite a few shows with dystopian sci-fi technical themes.

WATCH: Much of season 6 takes place in the past

"So, partly what I was doing, I was setting myself a task of ‘What if I think of some storylines that aren’t to do with technology and are to do with horror or set in the past?’ It was partly doing that and then through doing that, we got an episode – Demon 79, which is set in 1979 and is almost like a companion piece to Black Mirror."

Kate Mara in Black Mirror's Beyond the Sea© Netflix
Kate Mara in Black Mirror's Beyond the Sea

This thought process about Demon 79, which was released under the moniker of 'Red Mirror', also led Charlie to set Beyond the Sea in the past, despite originally planning for it to be set in 2045. He said: "When I’d first thought of that idea [for Beyond the Sea], I thought of it as a near-future story that would’ve been set in 2045 or whenever. But as soon as you think ‘Well, what if I set it in the past?’, it becomes a different story and the characters in it are behaving differently. So it was just very interesting. Again, it’s a longwinded answer but the answer is maybe." 

MORE: 8 brilliant easter eggs in Black Mirror season six you might have missed

Mazey Day actress stars as a paparazzi
Mazey Day actress stars as a paparazzi

In the show Beyond the Sea and Demon 79 take place in the 1960s and 1970s respectively, while Mazey Day takes place in 2006 - perhaps in relation to the intense scrutiny faced by the likes of celebrities such as Britney Spears, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in the early Noughties. The show even sets the tone with the arrival of Suri Cruise being announced on the radio in an opening scene. 

The talisman from Demon 79 Black Mirror© Netflix
The talisman from Demon 79 Black Mirror

Fans have been loving the new season, with one person writing: "I liked the latest season if #BlackMirror more than the one previous. Loch Henry was the stand-out, and I enjoyed all the performances in all episodes especially Beetz and Vasan. I also like that most were set in the past. Just hope Brooker doesn’t make me wait another four years." 

Another person joked: "Black Mirror basically said [expletive] it, the dystopian future is already here so let's go back to the past this season."

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