How ‘Black Mirror’s California Dreams Put Dystopian Netflix Series in Emmy Race

Wrap Emmy Magazine: Show creator Charlie Brooker wins big with first episode he wrote for Netflix

In its original British incarnation, “Black Mirror” was always a bleak and stylish prediction of what technological advances could do to us sorry humans. But when Netflix nabbed the show from the U.K.’s Channel 4, showrunners Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones gave it a decidedly American makeover, to award-worthy effect.

Two of the show’s episodes received Emmy nominations, with “San Junipero” landing nods for Outstanding Television Movie and for Brooker’s screenplay. (Individual episodes qualified as TV movies under Emmy rules.)

“It was the first Episode I wrote for Netflix,” Brooker said of “San Junipero.” “It was partly a deliberate bid on my part to reinvent what I thought the show was. In that respect, it was consciously positive. It’s also set in the past, and it’s very, very American. It has this California Dream-like quality.”

“San Junipero” stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis as queer women who meet in an ’80s coastal paradise that the episode is named for. That paradise, however, is a software program where aging users upload their consciousness.

It’s a trial run to see if, after their bodies die, they’d like to remain living within the program. On top of having the only happy ending in the series (“unless you’re a pig who has always wanted to meet the prime minister,” Brooker quipped), San Junipero was also praised for being LGBT-inclusive.

“I found it very touching that, on the one hand, it’s a universal story and got a positive reaction in general,” he said. “Beyond that, you get the LGBT community who are seeing a positive representation that feels interesting and, hopefully, respectful.”

But make no mistake, this is still “Black Mirror.” Brooker recalled this early thought he shared with Jones: “This is the most progressive story we’ve ever written, but what you don’t realize is it’s a story about a quadriplegic lesbian and a bisexual woman of color in her ’70s who get married. And euthanized. If you were to compile a list of things that might enrage somebody of a conservative mindset, it’s all there,” he said.

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