In Brooker’s inverted paradise, proximity comes at a price. What one is willing to give up for it—either to create the gulf or to clear it—is the source of all the sad chaos that outlines his futurescape.

His stories are of a world in the throes of madness—be it dread brought on by devices that govern human emotion (“Nosedive”; “The Entire History of You”) or the mayhem that arises out of one’s inability to access, or sustain, a particular social standing (“The National Anthem”; “Shut Up and Dance”). What at first feels like a twisted fairytale slowly unravels into a vision of the quotidian, as if Brooker is saying: our emerging reality is much more unnerving than pure fiction.

For all its technological sprawl, Black Mirror is a show about the flesh and bone of human suffering: the different ways individuals hurt and grieve, the way human innovation expands the distance between people, communities, and ideologies. It’s not solely a matter of distance, but also of what one is willing to do to bridge that distance, that causes the series’ small, fertile tragedies.

In some ways, this is Brooker’s central thesis. Humans get into trouble not when we make progress, but when we try to overcome humanity by treating emotion and spirit like science—the quest to articulate and optimize the ineffable.

Black Mirror’s true utopianism, though, has always been presenting a fairly multicultural future without comment, and with “Black Museum,” season 4’s final episode, all of Brooker’s work—and the question of proximity—coalesces into one of his finest visual, narrative, and thematic treats yet. With even more daring, its ending invites a reading that’s not so obvious to everyone. Read more from…

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