‘Black Mirror': Where Was ‘San Junipero’ Filmed?

Time to book your flights to a place that looks like heaven on earth

Last Updated: October 29, 2016 @ 4:40 PM

We don’t blame you for wanting to know what town stood in for San Junipero, the beautiful seaside party town that provides the title for the third episode of the third season of Netflix’s “Black Mirror.”

San Junipero is a lovely place for the characters played by Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw to meet: There’s an old movie theater, soft neon lights and romantic, rain-swept streets. Off the main drag are dunes and craggy beaches. Where is this magical place, where Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” blasts through nightclub speakers for all eternity?

We assumed somewhere in central or northern California, because of the weather, topography and architecture. Santa Cruz? Pismo Beach? “Junipero,” after all, recalls the name of Father Junipero Serra, the missionary all California schoolchildren are taught about in elementary school — the one who built Catholic missions. The story goes that he would supervise construction of one, then walk a day, then begin another — so that future travelers would always have somewhere to stay.

But no. It turns out that the real San Junipero isn’t in California, or even the United States. And why would it be, given the UK origins of “Black Mirror?”

It turns out the real San Junipero is … Cape Town, South Africa.

Moonlighting Films, the South African filming services company that worked on the episode, confirms the location — and that another Season 3 episode, “Nosedive,” shot there as well.

(Moonlighting’s website has the episodes out of order, suggesting a last-minute switch in which they appear in Netflix rotation. Series creator Charlie Brooker recently told NPR’s “Fresh Air” how much he struggles with what order the episodes of the anthology series should appear in.)

Should you visit Cape Town? If you can. The port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath Table Mountain, is rich not only with natural beauty but also history. Off its coast is Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela persevered for 27 years before attaining his freedom and ending apartheid in South Africa.

There’s something just and beautiful about the fact that an episode filmed in Cape Town centers on an interracial relationship — and that no one even mentions that it’s an interracial relationship.