Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Netflix
Black Mirror’s Bandersnatch was a bold and promising experiment, but as entertainment it fell somewhat short. In a recent interview he gave to Huffpost alongside fellow showrunner Annabel Jones, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker revealed that he’s well aware that the film’s attracted its share of criticism—he just doesn’t really care:
There’s also some people that are like ‘I don’t wanna make decisions’, ‘I don’t want to do any of it’… well fuck off, then. Do something else! And then there’s some people who think ‘oh, it’s too simple as a game’ or ‘games have done this before’ – well this isn’t on a gaming platform, it’s on Netflix. I’m well aware of what a computer game is, thanks.
And equally, some people just want to be told one story, but this is designed where you’re going to experience more than one ending to get a sense of the whole. We don’t expect you to do all of them, it’s just the more you do, hopefully the more fun an experience you’ll have.
A mixed critical response isn’t the only trouble befalling Bandersnatch: Netflix is also being sued by the company behind the Choose Your Own Adventure children’s book series, who allege that the streaming service infringed on their trademark and damaged their kid-friendly reputation by having Stefan do some pretty R-rated stuff, like chop his father’s body into bloody bits. They’re seeking $25 million in damages.
I wasn’t a fan of Bandersnatch, but it did succeeded in one way Brooker surely appreciates: Watching it turned viewers into hypnotized, screen-glued drones straight out of an episode of Black Mirror. As the novelty wore off and controlling Stephen’s life became a chore, audience members descended into loop after loop, wasting hours away before a dully glowing laptop screen and hoping that if we go back one more time, we’ll make it to a satisfying conclusion. All the while Brooker’s laughing it up, knowing that chumps like me will still instantly binge watch season five whenever they get around to releasing it.