Which Black Mirror episode is most likely to happen at your uni?
We can’t all be Bandersnatch
Take a second to really think about it, and actually, uni is a lot like an episode of Black Mirror.
Everyone involved is scarily dependent on technology. It leaves you absolutely dreading the future. The best days were probably before it became a massive money-spinning machine.
Spooky. Now that the tenuous comparison has been made, let us begin assigning UK universities to each episode of the show. It's tradition.
The National Anthem – Oxford
Prime Minister is forced to have sex with a pig live on TV to save a princess who has been kidnapped.
Imagine? There is no need for imagining here. Posh people at Oxford get silly drunk in their fancy drinking clubs and fuck pigs. All. The. Time. PMs included. I bet there’s someone having sex with a pig at Oxford right now.
Hang the DJ – Cambridge
The dating app with a digital ‘coach’ who decides who you go on a date with and how long your relationship will last. Ends with a couple climbing over a huge wall to escape the dating app, just to reveal they’re a perfect match.
One of the least dramatic Black Mirror episodes, this situation could only take place somewhere methodical and sterile like Cambridge. Every Cantab meets their future spouse during their monotonous three years at uni and the only big wall they’ll will ever face is completing their degree. Once they’re both earning 60k+ a year after graduating, they will make a life long commitment to each other!
Fifteen Million Merits – Loughborough
Everyone has to ride bikes in exchange for "merits", which is how they buy things and enter the big talent contest.
Loughborough students would love to spend their days only riding bikes at the gym and wearing trackies to earn respect from their peers. Oh wait! They do that already.
The Entire History of You – York
People have a "grain" implanted behind their ear, which allows them to record everything they see and hear. You can re-play past memories.
Sat in your college bar waiting for something, anything to happen, you start to wonder what life could have been like if you’d picked a less boring uni. “Don’t go there”, everyone warned “it’s just a cathedral and lots of geese”. But you didn’t listen, and here you are replaying past memories of fun, the taste of alcohol and a decent conversation for entertainment.
White Bear – Cardiff
A woman is being hunted and recorded by members of the public who don’t speak to her. Fucking scary, ends up being a game show where murderers have to relive a grim experience everyday.
Going to Cardiff is full of repetitive psychological torture: the Colum Road crossroads, the look of the Psychology Tower, the ASSL stairwell, Arriva trains, the Lash queue, knowing you go to the weakest university in the Russell Group – all grim experiences which no one in their right mind would want to go through day in, day out.
Nosedive – Bristol
Everyone is given a rating out of 5 stars for their online and in-person interactions. The main girl wants to get to 4.5 so she can live a life of luxury, but has to suck up to highly-ranked people to get there. She ends up getting 0 stars after a series of fuck ups.
Being a five star success story is all about networking and knowing the right people every step of the way – that’s what mummy and daddy have always said. It’s how you get into the best boarding school, get fast-tracked into pony club, secure work experience at Goldman age 16 and get invited skiing, on safari and to the Caribbean – all expenses paid.
But to do all of this “networking” requires a lot of sucking up to those higher than you, shovelling the shit in the hope of being recognised and eventually welcomed to join the more established ranks. By the time you got to Bristol you were on four stars, rubbing shoulders with the other young Tories and triple homeowners desperate to make it to five. But then you started taking K every weekend, picked up a Xanax addiction and swapped Champagne Soc for staying up late refreshing Depop to bag something “vintage” by North Face. You hit a zero rating when you inevitably graduated with a 2:2 and told mummy you’re going to Cambodia to train as a yoga teacher.
Playtest – Hull
The scary one where he’s playing the VR game in the horror house!!!!
You know how the guy in the Playtest episode has some VR type-like shades which immerse him into a petrifying house of horrors scenario, a place so grim and petrifying you’d do anything to get out of there? Well yeah, that’s like Hull, except you don’t need VR glasses and it’s real life.
Shut up and Dance – Leeds
Kenny is recorded masturbating to porn via his webcam by some gang, who then make him do a series of tasks to stop them from releasing the footage – robbing a bank, killing a man. After killing the man the footage is leaked and he gets arrested.
If you hear of two men fighting to the death with their bare hands in the Eddy B, or that there’s been an armed robbery in the Hyde Park Sainsbury’s, it’s probably involving the guy who was seen masturbating in the library toilets.
San Junipero – Newcastle
Parties, good music, fun clubs, retro vibes, but it's all just to make the fear of death a little bit easier to handle.
Did you watch San Junipero and think “I wish I looked that good”, “I want to go out to a night like that”, or “I wish all my friends dressed that well”?
Was your mind rattling, dreaming of how aesthetic life could be if only there was a San Junipero nearby?
Well guess what, there’s a place called Newcastle where everyone is beautiful and everyone dresses well and there’s these places called MSA and Swingers which are literally identical to the club in SJ. Oooh Jesmond is a place on earth – there’s even the Angel of the North.
Bandersnatch – Durham
The one with the choices where – spoiler – you can kill your dad and you're not sure if you really got it.
Weird, huh. You kept putting Oxbridge as your choice, but for some reason this weird game won’t let you progress until you settle for Durham.
In Durham, everything’s a binary choice. Hill or Bailey college? Klute or Jimmy’s? Go on Palatinalps or moan about everyone on Palatinalps?
Oh look, some guy’s dyed his hair blond and is foisting psychedelics upon you whilst he witters on about free will. Seems the Durham Bandersnatch is broken though. Everyone gets the same ending, no matter what they choose: a deeply unsatisfying, but impressive, grad scheme.
Men Against Fire – Nottingham and Nottingham Trent
Soldiers are given an implant called MASS which makes them find and kill “mutated” humans, when in reality those humans are exactly the same as the soldiers. The takeaway message basically being that when you start seeing another group of species as an “other”, it becomes easier to kill them.
A bit like Nottingham students perpetually bullying anyone from Trent just because they think it’s a worse uni. It’s not. Both Nottingham and Trent are equally shit.
Hated in the Nation – Warwick
When people mysteriously start dying all over London, it’s because they’ve been victims of the #deathto hashtag, which people at first thought was a social media game. It wasn’t and the deaths are caused by hacked digital insects, which target the person with the most #deathto hashtags.
Which student body could be enraged enough to start tweeting fake death threats? Warwick of course! There’s a new protest at the Piazza on a daily basis and Warwick students always seem to be angry about everything.
Arkangel – Manchester
Kids are implanted with tracking devices so parents can see their every move. They can also track their mood, and sensor things they don’t want their children to see, like blood or scary dogs. Her mum sees her shagging and doing drugs when she’s a teen, and ends with the daughter hitting the mum over the head with the tablet.
Obviously Manchester. Where the young, talented and full of promise go, only to be spat out three years later, wholly and uniformly transformed into the UK’s biggest K heads. The fresh-faced Manchester student starts their journey as their mum drops them off on move-in day. They stare up at the towering heights of Owen’s Park, the home counties far behind them. Ah, the adventure that lies ahead. The lifelong friends they’re going to make, the 24-hour studying, the 2.1 degree from a decent Russel Group Uni awaits! Mum will be proud!
And then ooooooops, like clockwork, as if the city has some sort of poisonous gas that affects only the people of Fallowfield, it’s all WHP this, house party that, and before you know it they’re dressed head to toe in Fila at the afters asking if anyone wants to try some of their Rhino ket. Cause mate, you need to try it. It is sick.
Crocodile – Aberdeen
Girl and boy kill someone in a hit and run. Girl grows up and ends up killing her accomplice because he says he feels guilty, and then kills and innocent insurance investigator who has tech which can see the girl killing the guy in her memories.
Ask anyone to describe the Crocodile episode, and you hear the same thing every time: “Uh, oh it’s the really cold one isn’t it.” Despite the gripping plot, strong cast, and cute guinea pig, all that really pops to mind is how cold everything is.
And, really, that’s all anyone knows about Aberdeen.
Metalhead – Coventry
The black and white episode with loads of robot dogs could only take in a bleak place like Coventry. Where most of humanity is dead and the students turn into soulless, corporate dogs also known as brand ambassadors. And will pursue you relentlessly with voucher codes until you die.
Black Museum – St Andrews
Girl finds museum full of weird technology from past Black Mirror episodes. The curator's prize possession is a hologram of a convicted murderer, who customers can electrocute repeatedly. Turns out the girl is the murderer’s daughter, she kills the museum owner and sets it alight.
Endlessly self-referential and – given how absent the sun can be during winter – a bit too dark to be truly enjoyable. It's St Andrews, alright.
USS Callister – Sussex
Weird games developer creates virtual versions of people in his life so he can live out his power fantasy aboard USS Callister. They go on space adventures and get periodically turned into weird creatures. Like Star Trek, but it makes you think.
Some weird stuff is happening in space. Everyone’s wearing weird clothes and, when you look at them again, turning into monsters. Is it a game? No, just Sussex students fooling around with some research chemicals.
The Waldo Moment – Sheffield
A guy pretends to be an obnoxious caricature of a bear, until things get out of hand and he ends up running in an election.
There's only one way to truly thrive in Sheffield: reverting to type. Becoming the Arctic Monkeys-loving, denim/leather jacket-wearing stereotype everyone else is. After a few years though, you end up getting too into politics and losing your mates. That's life.
Be Right Back – Birmingham
When her husband dies, a woman replaces him with a weird synthetic android version of himself. The problem is, he just can't act exactly like her real husband, and so she puts him in the attic.
Just like the revived robot husband, Birmingham has all the raw ingredients to be a success. Good uni, fun clubs, cheap prices. Except the spark's missing, and instead of the loft it's left to linger as either your third or fourth choice on UCAS.