By Carter Diggs
While the premise of “Nosedive” can seem rather far-fetched at first, it ties heavily into our everyday lives and ways social media is being implemented today. Thematically, the episode does a good job in representing the populace’s addiction to social media. The score is interesting as a literal commodification of the value we see in other people on social media.
Guilt by association is a tactic commonly used on social media to set cross-hairs on someone. We are not perceived by just ourselves and our own actions, but also the actions of the company we keep. In a way, this mode of judging someone does hold some water, as keeping company with someone implies you at least tolerate their behavior.
For example, if a relatively unassuming person is good friends with a lot of well-known racists, it could be extrapolated that they in turn might tolerate and sympathize with the views held by these people – thus their social value in the eyes of others might go down.
The problem here is when the social value shifts from the subjective landscape of our minds in which we can all make our own unique judgments to a contextless “objective” numbers game. The numerical value in the episode removes all human thinking from the process and thus keeps people from making their own conclusions about others.
What’s even more worrying is that this type of technology might just end up escaping the realm of fiction. In China, the government has been testing and trying out a form of commodified social value system similar to the one in this episode. In it, they earn points for doing “good citizen” actions that benefit the country, while those who go against social norms lose points.
Detaching from the political aspect of the episode, I felt the episode could have used a little more fine-tuning in the writing department. The actors are all really good with what they are given, but they are noticeably bottlenecked by a somewhat unnatural script that isn’t as nearly as subtle or nuanced as past episodes.
Many of the actions taken near the end really break suspension of belief and leave the view with the feeling that the characters aren’t acting like real people. It feels like the plot and message overtook good character writing, which is definitely a bad mark in my book. The wedding party and ending “fuck you” scene felt almost inhuman, and Lacie felt like a vessel for the plot to carry its message.
But who knows? Maybe Lacie’s stilted dialogue and awkward character development were intentional, like the show was trying to potray her as a person who has had all humanity sucked away by society.
If that’s so, maybe they could have found a better way to implement that without having to resort to stilted, awkward dialogue and giving the audience the sense that things are happening because the plot says so.