“Everything’s just a bit wider apart”
On the second day of Christmas, Black Mirror gave to me…two lovelorn kids
Fifteen Million Merits takes place in a fiercely satirical version of our entertainment culture, where appearing on reality TV is king and everyone else is trapped in a factory-like environment where they must cycle for hours on end to generate all the electricity needed. Forced to watch inane crap on the screens that constantly surround them, their activities are frequently interrupted by adverts, just like on the Channel 4 player!
Daniel Kaluuya’s Bing has inherited 15 million merits from his brother on his passing and decides to use them to enter Jessica Brown Findlay’s Abi into Hot Shots, the X Factor-like show with a scarily vacuous Julia Davis and a sinister Cowell-a-like Rupert Everett. This is the only route out of their slave-like existence but sure enough, nothing is as simple as it seems and as ever, you have to be careful what you wish for.
Fifteen Million Merits is a really clever piece of writing, more overtly dystopian than the series opener and all the more chillingly effective for it, especially in the soullessness of the world that it evokes. Kaluuya and Brown Findlay give us a glimmer of hope that something human might always remain but it is Isabella Laughland’s jealous friend and David Fynn’s hopeless sap that live long in the memory, chewed up and forgotten by a system that never even cared.