Why ‘Black Mirror’ Season 5 Has Just 3 Episodes

Showrunners Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones also tell TheWrap why new season launched on a Wednesday

Last Updated: June 11, 2019 @ 12:32 PM

“Black Mirror” Season 5 finally arrived this week, contributing a trio of new installments to the tech-centric anthology series: Miley Cyrus’ “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too,” the Andrew Scott-starring “Smithereens,” and the Anthony Mackie and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II-led “Striking Vipers.”

Yes, there are just three.

Now, to those of you complaining about that tiny episode count, series creator Charlie Brooker told TheWrap you people “have no sense of history,” seeing as the first two seasons of “Black Mirror” were also just three-episodes long, too. (Seasons 3 and 4 had six episodes each.)

OK, OK, he was joking, but there are a couple of real reasons behind their decision to shorten the fifth season.

“One was that, originally, ‘Bandersnatch’ was actually part of Season 5,” Brooker told TheWrap. “So we shot ‘Striking Vipers’ — our first episode of the season — that was actually shot before ‘Bandersnatch’ was even written. And then as ‘Bandersnatch’ expanded and became so big we realized a) well, this is like doing a season in its own right, and b) it made much more sense to do it as a standalone.”

You remember “Bandersnatch” — the interactive, “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style “Black Mirror” movie starring Fionn Whitehead and Will Poulter — was cryptically teased by Netflix for months and then suddenly dropped last December.

“And then we thought, ‘Well, we’ve got these other episodes as well, they feel like they complement each other,” Brooker said. “We could make people wait forever while we do some more, or we could release these fairly quickly after ‘Bandersnatch.'”

“So the people who are upset about it, I can understand if you’re expecting six and you get three. But, you just had ‘Bandersnatch,’ that was five and a half hours, so come on! Also, have you seen how much TV there is out there? You should be thanking us!” Brooker said, teasingly.

“Yeah, so I think we’ve over-delivered,” Brooker’s “Black Mirror” co-showrunner, Annabel Jones, added, jumping in on the joke. “Maybe we should have just released one.”

“Yes, that’s the attitude to have. Let’s say we over-delivered,” Brooker added.

“Well, I mean, ‘Bandersnatch’ is a beast. So three episodes? Yeah, we have,” Jones said.

When we asked Brooker and Jones about why Season 5 launched on a Wednesday instead of a Friday (which was the previous launch pattern, ever since the show moved to Netflix from the UK’s Channel 4 for Season 3) they weren’t entirely sure, but they did give us some insight.

“I think it’s partly an experiment, but I think it’s not unprecedented,” Brooker said. “Also, probably because it’s a slightly shorter season, you’ve got more of a chance of watching it and discussing it with your coworkers before the weekend, at which point they can catch up. Maybe that’s the reason.”

“Yeah, that’s probably the reason,” Jones added.

You can read more from TheWrap’s interview with Brooker and Jones here.

“Black Mirror” Season 5 — all three episodes of it — is streaming now on Netflix.