On December 28th, Netflix released Bandersnatch, a new episode of Black Mirror. The episode is about 19-year old Stefan who is working on a video game called Bandersnatch. The game is a choose your own adventure, where choices that the player makes affect outcomes in the game. What’s unique about this episode is that Netflix mimicked that premise, allowing viewers to make choices to steer the plot. The future is now. Heads up, there are going to be some major spoilers so if you haven’t seen the episode, keep this article open, watch it, and then come back.
Watching the episode with your parents is a special experience. My mom and I decided to let my dad make all the decisions, especially because on the first go, I chose wrong and ended the episode in the first 10 minutes. The stakes of the decisions you make increase exponentially as the episode progresses. Initially, you’re choosing between breakfast cereals. Eventually, you’re choosing who jumps to their death from an apartment building. It’s f-cked up.
Remember when you were a kid and you watched TV with your parents? Sometimes you had to play dumb about what was happening on TV because if you knew too much, it would betray the kind of stuff that you were doing, stuff that was better kept under wraps. Hashtag in the closet life, am I right? Bandersnatch is a little bit like this. For example, there’s a scene where one of the characters, Colin, offers LSD to Stefan, and you have a choice whether to take it or refuse. Note: I haven’t done LSD, but what’s the one thing your parents always taught you? SAY NO TO DRUGS! So, as I confidently go to select the refuse option, because I am a model child, I hear “take the LSD” from the other side of the couch.
EXCUSE ME, DAD?? You would like to take the what now? My dad grins because he’s here for the entertainment, and he loves a little drama. So down the rabbit hole we go, and choice after choice, my dad is like a GPS navigating this story like an expert. After studying a complex flowchart of all the available options, I learned that we missed so many soft endings and boring choices along the way because of his guidance. This probably doesn’t seem crazy to you, but it’s important to note the amount of messed up choices you have to be okay making. Unblinkingly, he tells me to make Colin jump off the ledge, flush Stefan’s medication down the toilet, and even yell at Stefan’s dad! Turns out advancing the plot can lead you to make some questionable decisions. For instance, I distinctly remember arguing with my dad about whether to kill Stefan’s dad. I literally shouted, “DAD! I DON’T WANT TO KILL DAD!”
So I learned some new things about my family that night. In my dad’s defense, he did keep the episode interesting, and many times you were eventually forced into the uncomfortable choices. But for our family, Bandersnatch became a personality test for my loved ones. Have you ever played Cards Against Humanity? It always ends the same way: you learn that the most trusted people in your life are freaks. There are enough options and strange plotlines in Bandersnatch to truly learn how batsh-t your friends and family are. It’s like a Buzzfeed quiz that tells you which type of kitchen utensil you’d be. To help you interpret your Bandersnatch results, here’s a guide to the types of friends and the choices they’re likely to make.
Sadistic Friend who is probably a serial killer: Chooses to kill dad immediately and chop up the body
(yes that is a choice in this episode. Did I say it was f-cked up already?)
The Kind Friend: Constantly tries to find an ending where no one dies, and Stefan’s game is a success. This ending doesn’t exist, but this friend is the type of person who would make a YouTube Edit called “Bandersnatch except Stefan is happy, healthy and successful.”
The Mom Friend: Makes Stefan take his anti-depressants and see his therapist.
The Hot Mess: Stresses out about choosing between cereals and runs out of time.
The Perfectionist: Obsessively replays the episode in order to unlock all the different endings. Give it up Susan, it’s just a TV show.
The Person Who Didn’t Watch It: Why are you even friends with them?
The Absolute Scum of the Earth: Chooses Sugar Puffs over Frosted Flakes.