Emmys 2019: Innovation, new viewing trends give 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' a chance for a three-peat for 'Outstanding TV movie'
Delving into the plotline, Black Mirror stays true to its original theme— technology is a boon, but can fast turn into a bane because of constant change
Of the five television movies nominated for the 71st annual Emmy Awards 2019, 'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch', the standalone interactive film, perhaps holds the best chance to walk away with an Emmy this year. If it does, that's a three-in-three for 'Black Mirror.' One of its episodes, 'USS Callister' won the award in 2018, which was earlier held by 'San Junipero' — another 'Black Mirror' episode in 2017. And the British science fiction anthology television series will be keen on extending the winning run.
'Bandersnatch' was based on a planned software game of the same name that never released after the company filed for bankruptcy. Part sci-fi and part horror, the episode brings in meta-commentary and rumination of free will. The viewers get a chance to control the narrative for the main character, Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), who is working on a fantasy choose-your-own-adventure into a novel video game. When the episode hit Netflix in 2018, it opened to mixed reviews.
The interactive element meant the world was under 'Bandersnatch's spell. People were talking about the multiple endings, the format and the power given to them to control someone's narrative. The episode, in fact, was a serious experiment to observe how human beings perceive and react to free will.
The episode's innovation makes it a cinch to win an Emmy for 'Outstanding Television Movie.' Innovation that promised errors at every step of the way — something that the creators foresaw right at the beginning and managed to pull it off. For starters, it wasn't just the branching narratives that created a challenge, there was that question of how the choices would be presented to the viewers on the screen. Again, different mediums of tech that had to be considered.
Delving into the plotline, Black Mirror stays true to its original theme — technology is a boon but can fast turn into a bane because of its constant evolution. In an age where focusing for longer periods is fatiguing, 'Bandersnatch' managed to keep us rapt and while it may have taken a fair amount of programming to keep us glued, the effort is definitely worth the Emmy. Not to forget, they managed to keep the basic plot intact as well.
That it was nominated also has to do with the TV trends people are catching up on. 'Bandersnatch' here doesn't come across as a one-off. It wasn't viewed, experienced and forgotten. Agreed that the nomination was quite unexpected and will face stiff resistance from 'Deadwood: The Movie' (HBO) and 'My Dinner with Herve' (HBO again), but the calculated risk seems to have certainly paid off. Not only was 'Bandersnatch' fun, it was also enlightening.
'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' was written by series creator Charlie Brooker and directed by David Slade. The episode is available for streaming on Netflix.