Television of the Future: A review on Netflix’s first interactive film “Bandersnatch”


Netflix's cover art of Bandersnatch.


  Earlier this month, Netflix’s series “Black Mirror” released an extended episode called “Bandersnatch ”with an interesting take: an episode where you can choose your own adventure, thus generating a personalized outcome.

  Since its creation, “Black Mirror” has been a mind-boggling series that sparks conversation about conspiracy theories, free will, and how technology and innovation affect our psyche as well as our society. “Bandersnatch” is Netflix’s and perhaps film’s very first “choose-your-own adventure” movie, and it did not disappoint. Viewers took to social media the same day the film was released on Netflix, and both Instagram and Twitter blew up with memes and conversation about the myriad of outcomes. Some people even created intricate charts, much like the ones within the movie itself, showing which choice to make for your desired outcome. Some spent hours going back and forth choosing different options, because they were so eager to see all of the possibilities.

“I almost sat for like over three hours because I wanted to get the good ending, but I kept getting the one where he ends up in jail,” senior Zach Holcomb said. “I didn’t mind sitting there for hours because every story was so cool. It’s just crazy to think how much time and effort was put into each outcome.”

Set in the 80’s, the show is centered around a potentially mentally ill video game programmer, Stefan. After pitching his idea of the game based on a fictional “choose-your-own adventure” novel called Bandersnatch, Stefan is taken up on his offer. This is where the vital options come into play. In the process of creating the first game of this kind, Stefan runs into many problems as he demos the game in front of the developers. There is always something that goes wrong, and he’s on borrowed time, as the developers wish to have it released by Christmas. As he works throughout the entire day and works hours into the night, Stefan starts having paranoia and different existential crises, which are typical for a “Black Mirror” production. Each one of these events is portrayed differently, depending on the small choices you make as the show progresses. Some of the questions can range from what type of cereal Stefan should choose to eat for breakfast, to whether or not he should kill his own father. There is a different outcome for each question, resulting in a plethora of possible outcomes.

“Bandersnatch” could perhaps be ushering in a new era, genre or even a fusion of movies and video games. This new “take your pick” approach is appealing to many people, and it is rising in popularity. Sometimes a bad ending of what seemed like an amazing movie can ruin the whole film for the audience. With the ability to choose what your character does, it makes the viewer feel like they are dictating the character as they would if they were in that situation themselves. Although it is true that people like to watch movies that are distant from reality, it brings a whole new sense of allure to be involved in a fictional reality. With apps such as Episodes, where you choose your own adventure popping up, this new “genre” could change entertainment as we know it.