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'Black Mirror' support group: That poor, defenseless pig

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “The National Anthem” | Aired Dec 4, 2011

Welcome to the first installment of the Black Mirror Support Group (alternate title: Gahhhhh! What Did I Just Watch?). This is a safe space where we can come together to examine our thoughts and feelings regarding Black Mirror. It’s a place where everybody listens, nobody judges, and there’s a break halfway through for coffee and donuts.

“The National Anthem” opens with Prime Minister Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear) being awoken in the early morning to learn that Princess Susannah (Lydia Wilson) has been kidnapped. The kidnapper wants Michael to appear on every single network live at 4 o’clock and have “full, unsimulated sexual intercourse with a pig,” or Susannah will be executed.

Michael’s reaction: All the nopes.

Nope octopus

Question #1: If you were in the Prime Minister’s shoes, upon hearing the ransom demand for the first time, would you have considered complying? Just for a brief moment?

Michael asks that the situation be kept quiet, but it’s too late; the ransom video was posted on YouTube. The government has issued a gag order prohibiting the news stations from reporting on it, but it’s already trending on Twitter.

We find ourselves next in the UKN newsroom, where reporters are arguing about whether or not to comply with the ban. When they learn that every news outlet outside of the U.K. is already reporting it, they run it.

Question #2: If you ran UKN, would you have reported on the kidnapping?

UKN breaks the story, and we see people around the country reacting—at home, work, the bar, and a workshop. The video has been viewed 18 million times. A full 28 percent of the public is in favor of the P.M. giving in to demands.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Michael, his staff is working on getting a special-effects director to map his head onto the body of a live performer.

Back at home, Michael’s wife, Jane (Anna Wilson-Jones), is reading some pretty gruesome YouTube comments (aren’t they all?). She bursts into the situation room and demands to speak to Michael. He assures her that nothing will happen. “It’s already happening in their heads!” she argues. “In their heads, that’s what you’re doing—what my husband is doing.” Way to make it all about you, Jane. Never mind the kidnapped princess, never mind your husband, never mind that poor defenseless pig; you’re the real victim here.

Question #3: Does Jane really have a dog in this fight? As Michael’s spouse, she certainly has a say in his, er, extracurriculars, but this situation is rather unique.

Meanwhile, a technician has discovered that the video was uploaded from an abandoned college. A tactical team is sent to investigate.

Back at the studio, adult film star Rod Senseless (Jay Simpson) is being escorted inside when a passerby recognizes him and snaps a picture, and they just let him go.

Question #4: Forget rules and regulations—wouldn’t you have detained that guy and erased the photo? Come on, son!

psych come on son

A package is delivered to UKN containing a flash drive. The kidnapper has found out about Rod Senseless. I told you so! It also contains a finger. They report on it immediately. Michael is furious with his staff. The public is now 86 percent in favor of him giving in to the demand.

Michael orders the TAC team to storm the college, and it turns out to be a decoy. They’re fresh out of leads, and it’s 40 minutes until go time.

Michael and his staffer Alex (Lindsay Duncan) argue over whether he should go through with it. Alex tells him that if he refuses, “I’ve been advised that we cannot guarantee your physical safety … or that of your family.” Ooh, she brought his baby into it. It’s written all over his face. He’ll do it.

Question #5: But I mean, couldn’t they just move or something?

People all over the country gather around their televisions. The streets are all empty. Michael enters the studio. This is when Alex lets him in on another detail: He must “see it through to the end.” She cautions him against rushing, as this could be interpreted as “eagerness, or even enjoyment.” That’s all he needs.

Michael enters the room to find his sedated costar noshing on a barrel of whatever it is that pigs eat. The pig slowly turns to the camera and deadpans, “It’s a living.” Just kidding. Michael addresses the camera: “I trust this will bring about the safe return of Princess Susannah. I love my wife. May God forgive me.” And with that, he gets to work.

Question #6: Would you watch? Be honest.

Stephen Colbert eating popcorn

We join the public again as their mood quickly shifts from giddy to guilty to somber to positively wrecked. We then cut to Jane, the only person in the world who isn’t watching. But wait! Who’s that stumbling across a bridge in a party dress? It’s Susannah.

After nearly an hour, Michael is sobbing as he does his duty for his country. We again visit the man in the workshop, who’s now hanging from the rafters, minus one finger. Susannah is discovered. Michael has finished, and is in the loo, revisiting his English breakfast. Alex learns that Susannah is unharmed, and was, in fact, released at 3:30—before Michael even arrived at the studio. She wisely chooses to bury that detail. She then knocks on the door and tells Michael the good news: “You saved her.” He doesn’t respond, nor does he answer the phone when Jane calls.

One year later, Michael is seen making a public appearance with Jane. They’re smiling and laughing, and appear to have fully recovered from the incident. Until, that is, the cameras leave and they’re behind closed doors. Jane heads upstairs. Michael calls to her, “Jane. Jane, please.” She does not respond.

Question #7: Why is everything so awful? Please hold me. No, wait, I don’t want anyone to touch me ever again.

Black Mirror is currently streaming on Netflix.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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