Black Mirror: Bandersnatch creator on telling Netflix about their cameo


The appearance of Netflix in Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is one of the most entertaining twists of the story, but Charlie Brooker wasn’t entirely confident when he showed them the idea.

Netflix gave us a belated Christmas present on December 28 with the release of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, an interactive movie that kept viewers entertained for hours, trying to see how many endings they could get to. There are five main endings with a couple of variations, but the essence of the movie is the same: who is controlling whom?

One of those endings gets very meta with the appearance of Netflix, with viewers interacting with the main character, Stefan Butler, in a very Black Mirror way. Some viewers probably thought this was some shameless self-promotion from the streaming service, but it was actually creator Charlie Brooker and executive producer Annabel Jones’ idea, and Brooker was a bit embarrassed to show it to Netflix.

In an interview with The Wrap, Brooker spoke about how the idea of including Netflix in the story came to be, explaining it happened early on when figuring out the ways the story could go, specifically when Stefan becomes aware of someone or something controlling him. Brooker explained:

"“And we thought, well, it would be funny – ‘cause we wanted some branches to be funny, some to be horrifying, some to be dramatic – we thought it’d be funny if you just told him the truth. If you just said, ‘I’m watching you on the television and it’s Netflix and I’m from the 21st century’. The more you try and explain it to him, the more crazy it sounds, and the more crazy he sounds trying to explain it to anyone else in 1984. So it literally just came as a consequence of that”."

He added that, after writing it into the outline, he was almost embarrassed to show it to Netflix. As we all know, it turned out well, and according to Brooker, the people at Netflix thought the idea “was quite funny”. And it was, let’s be real.

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch – Courtesy of Netflix

If you haven’t gotten to the meta ending or haven’t even watched the movie, here’s how it goes: after becoming aware of someone controlling his actions, Stefan tells his psychiatrist about it. Whichever path you choose will bring a (slightly ridiculous) fight, very Hollywood-style. When choosing between Stefan climbing out the window or fighting his doctor, if you go with the window choice, the doctor’s office is revealed to be a movie set.

But to get there, you have to go through the whole “I am watching you on Netflix” reveal, and that’s not a difficult one to get to. However, it wasn’t always that easy. According to Brooker, the Netflix path was originally “a little more hidden away” and ultimately proved too difficult to get to, so a few changes had to be made.

One of the most entertaining things about Bandersnatch is that everyone has a different experience the first time they watch it. If my memory is not playing games with me, the first time I watched it I didn’t get the Netflix option on the first round. It took me back, and then it appeared. After rewatching it a couple more times, it appeared on the first round. Technology – uhm, Black Mirror – works in mysterious ways.

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Although the meta/Netflix ending is fun, it’s not the best out of the endings the movie has to offer. But given that the creative team was going for a “funny” twist, it absolutely serves its purpose.

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