Despite watching “San Junipero” several times already, I still don’t fully understand the way in which the episode makes me feel nostalgic about a fictional place I’ve never been and a time period in which I’ve never lived. It’s more than likely that my affinity for 80s music and visually-striking color palettes enriched my viewing experience to some extent; I’ve always been an 80s girl at heart. I also think that I see a little bit of myself in both Yorkie (a girl with big glasses who is somewhat unsure about herself) and Kelly (an outgoing and spunky party girl), the two main characters in "San Junipero". There is, however, so much still unexplained, such as why an episode of a TV show affected me so viscerally that I felt the need to blog about it.
Black Mirror, a show that is “stylishly asking you, why aren’t you more afraid?”, never fails to capture my attention unlike any other TV program or movie, so my expectations for "San Junipero" prior to viewing were already high. The show is an anthology series; in other words, each episode opens up a completely different world, a world in which the observer is grabbed by the throat and unable to escape the tight hold on their attention. If one is the type to revel in the feeling of being mind-boggled and horrified (as I am), watching Black Mirror is a refreshing experience. It’s an amazing feeling to come across Black Mirror in a sea of laugh tracks and nauseatingly predictive teen dramas.
Almost all of Black Mirror alludes to the darkest aspects of both the current and future technological age, so “San Junipero” stands out as a different technology-related episode from the rest of already incredibly diverse viewing experiences. I don’t necessarily mean it in the sense that it is far superior to the others (although it is a contender for one of my favorite episodes). I simply mean that it is definitely the most unique, from the story line to the cinematography. Just to clarify, some unique attributes include (but are not limited to): “San Junipero” being the only Black Mirror episode set in the past, a love story that defies the time period, a color palette that isn’t neutral or pastel (as most of the Black Mirror episodes are), an 80’s music soundtrack, and the fact that the end leaves the viewer with a sense of hope as opposed to feeling as if they were punched in the gut.
Now, don’t get me wrong; my absolute favorite type of entertainment is that which is dark and emotionally draining (when done well, of course). I love nothing more than when directors knock aside the cobwebs in the dark corners of society and slap the viewer with realizations about social illnesses, especially when the current and future horrors of technology are involved. But something about “San Junipero’s” practical placement makes it appeal to me just as much (if not more) than the other episodes; it shines as a bright, hopeful light tucked nicely into the latter half of an unflinchingly dark season 3. The only of its kind throughout the whole Black Mirror series, the unique concept fits perfectly among all of the other distinctive story lines.