In a fascinating essay about the sublime dystopian series Black Mirror, video blogger and web producer Evan Puschak aka The Nerdwriter takes a deep look into how the darkeness of the series affects the audience in such a way as to make the show as popular as it is. As Puschak notes, Aristotle defined tragedy as a “safe place to feel pity and fear in a safe environment” leading to a cathartic response. In the way the show is uniquely structured, the audience never arrives at that point of cathartic resolution and is left with only raw feelings towards the character, making the characters appear more relatable.
What Charlie Brooker the intensely smart creator of ‘Black Mirror’ has given us our tragedies that are often senseless in other words tragedies that withhold catharsis. The result I think, is that we end up feeling much closer to these stories. The cathartic appreciation that’s meant to transform our pity and our fear never comes and we’re just left with the pity and the fear. So why do we watch Black Mirror if it robs us of the pleasure often associated with tragedy. I think it’s because this feeling is a truly unique one in TV it’s unlike most other shows.