Throughout the first and second seasons of Charlie Brooker’s anthology series Black Mirror what became expected of the show was for each individual episode, no matter what the setting or premise, would end with a dismal note on how humans use technology to exploit others or to heighten some of our worst habits. The series opener “The National Anthem” and “White Bear” showed the hostility with which technology can be used to punish others with the latter detailing how extreme this can be taken with the complete loss of identity within the protagonist’s confused mindset. Some of this is not dissimilar to the Netflix era with the season three episode “Shut Up and Dance” following a similar narrative trajectory but with the most realistic use of technology the series has arguably ever used. But unlike these episodes, "San Junipero" actually shows how technology can bring people together instead of tear them apart with obsession like in “The Entire History of You” or make them cling onto people who are no longer there in the mournful “Be Right Back.” San Junipero has deservedly been showered with praise for its open LGBT representation with the focus being on two romantically involved female protagonists who are not limited into ridiculous caricatures or pave into some fantasy depiction of queer women. Instead Kelly and Yorkie are real people who both share understandable problems and insecurities. As characters they are perhaps the most striking in that they’re so different from any other Black Mirror protagonists (aside from the protagonists of the thematically similar “Hang the DJ”) not because of their sexuality but due to the fact that they are not in any way portrayed as victims which is what a lot of other episodes fall into even in their various narrative twists some of the messages can seem repetitive due to the format of the show.
This is due a lot to the bright setting with which the two live in which is so unlike any other setting in the series and although it is a literal heaven the place does not come without any complications as the daunting prospect of being in the same setting for the rest of your life (and after-life) has caused a lot of people living there to lose their self-control. Even with the potential to live life in whatever time zone you wished to explore whatever culture movement you were interested in, the prospect to being confined within the same lifestyle for what otherwise seems to be eternity brings so much existentialism to the pair especially without much of Kelly’s family from her own past there due to them not being in the system which makes the safe haven possible. Artificial consciousness is not something that the show has particularly explored before but the attention is not set towards the technology itself but the connection that can be made with someone who would otherwise be unknown without the possibilities modern life has given us. The narrative twists involving Kelly and Yorkie’s actual ages shows the massive wide-reaching grasp that is possible with technology that dismisses any limitations that can be had in everyday reality and instead surpasses them to bring together unlikely people even if it is their final chance. It’s a surprisingly romantic sentiment for a show that constantly aims to horrify its audience and bring shock value from our abuse of our most modern resource and a lot of the same can be said for “Hang the DJ” but San Junipero got there first and arguably gave the biggest critical and commercial breakout for the series it had seen and gives reason to be excited about whatever the series can give us next.