[The following contains spoilers for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Turn back now if you somehow haven’t seen it yet.]
“Bandersnatch,” Black Mirror’s much-dissected choose-your-own-adventure episode, is a revelation in the realm of interactive storytelling, not to mention an illustration of how streaming platforms like Netflix can change the ways in which we engage with content. It’s also, depending on the ending you received, extremely frustrating, which has led many fans to flood the internet with fury, prompting star Will Poulter to, wisely, leave social media. Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker isn’t concerned with the haters, however, especially when they’re refusing to engage with the episode on its own terms.
In a new interview with the HuffPost UK, Brooker addressed the episode’s detractors directly. “There’s also some people that are like ‘I don’t wanna make decisions’, ‘I don’t want to do any of it’... well fuck off, then. Do something else!” he said. “And then there’s some people who think ‘oh, it’s too simple as a game’ or ‘games have done this before’ – well this isn’t on a gaming platform, it’s on Netflix. I’m well aware of what a computer game is, thanks.” (He really is, revealing in this interview that he used to be a games critic himself.)
Brooker addressed other criticisms as well, such as why “Bandersnatch” doesn’t have an option for a traditionally “happy” ending (“Have they seen Black Mirror?” he replied) or a simple, coherent message. “I suppose, we do try not to go ‘this is what the message of this story is,’ and within this it’s so disparate, deliberately so, that’s almost the point,” he said of the latter criticism. “So it’s a bit Spiderman: Into The Spider-verse, there’s branches where he discovers he’s an actor in a Netflix show, you can’t have that and put in an emotive story where he dies as a young boy on a train and have one coherent message between the two.”
It’s true that, as a narrative, “Bandersnatch” isn’t the series’ most satisfying, but Brooker’s right in that one can’t measure its successes and failures on the same metric as other TV shows, or even other Black Mirror episodes. It’s another beast entirely, which is what makes it so compelling.
Read the full interview, in which the creator discusses some of the plot points that didn’t make the final cut, here.