Photo: Channel 4

You No Longer Have To Fly To England To Watch Black Mirror

If you're a DirecTV customer, that is. Everyone else is out of luck.

Before I get into it, I feel I must make one thing clear: this is not a sponsored post. But if the company in question did want to sponsor it or any other post, I would be into it 100% because the company in question makes my life better every day. (Fine: almost every day.)

For most of my cable-subscribing life, I never really gave much thought to my provider: I'd go with whatever terrestrial company had the monopoly wherever I was living, hope for the best, expect to have problems at some point, and always have problems. But things changed earlier this spring, when Time Warner in southern California abruptly dropped east coast feeds on several of its cable offerings. Our TWC experience had never been super-great — I mean, has LITERALLY ANYONE'S? — but whatever, to that point it had been fine. But after getting used to watching Mad Men at 7 PM, I could hardly go backwards. I made a command decision that our household would switch to DirecTV, and switch we did — only to learn to our delight (mostly mine) that all cable networks broadcast east coast feeds. Six months later, the thought of waiting until primetime for Key & Peele is practically unthinkable. If the only differentiator between DirecTV and Time Warner were east coast cable feeds, it would have been enough. But now there's a new one: DirecTV's Audience Network got the rights to broadcast Black Mirror.

In case you missed the episode of the Extra Hot Great podcast in which we considered adding the series premiere to the Canon, Black Mirror is a suspense/soft sci-fi anthology series in the tradition of The Twilight Zone. The common thread that runs through all the episodes is that the stories revolve around various kinds of screens (the "Black Mirror" of the title) — computer monitors, TVs, smartphones. In the premiere, for instance, the plot is catalyzed by a YouTube clip of a kidnapped Princess Susannah (a Kate Middleton type) relaying her captor's demand: that the Prime Minister do something extremely indecent, with a very undesirable partner, on live TV.

As series creator Charlie Brooker promised back in August, Black Mirror is appearing on a channel. But if you had thought it would be on BBC America or HBOGo (which has imported British shows like Five Days) or Hulu Plus (Fresh Meat, Pramface, Peep Show, many others) or Netflix (pretty much anything you can think of), that is sadly not the case. Now if you want to watch Black Mirror (legally), you can't just add a service to your existing TV setup; unless you're living right, you'll have to go through the giant hassle of changing cable companies. I mean, at least when DirecTV got first air rights to Friday Night Lights, we knew NBC would get the show eventually; even if we can be fairly confident that Black Mirror will probably come to Netflix at some point, we don't know when or if that will be. It's enough to make you want to "book your ticket" to "fly to England" to watch it after all.

Whichever way you end up getting access to the show — it's a don't ask, don't tell situation, as far as I'm concerned — you really should watch it. All your favourite British character actors (Lindsay Duncan, Jessica Brown Findlay, Rupert Everett, Domnhall Gleeson, Hayley Atwell, Jodie Whittaker, Lenora Crichlow, Jason Flemyng) appear in dystopic stories from the not so distant future that will make you reevaluate the time you spend staring at the real screens in your actual life...until it's time for the next episode to creep your shit out.

Black Mirror airs Tuesdays at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT on DirecTV's Audience Network.

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