Miley Cyrus revels in her dark side in Black Mirror’s Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too
Have you ever dreamt about what secrets lurk in the shadows behind the fragile showbiz facade? What truth might be revealed if the glossy Hollywood backdrop were to fall flat? Well, Charlie Brooker has, and it’s the kind of nightmare that will leave viewers reeling, suspended in a kind of bizarre limbo between a smile and a scream. Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too, from soon-to-be-released season five of Netflix’s Black Mirror, is a delightfully dark, searingly funny commentary on the dangers of fame and fandom. And at the wheel is none other than the queen of controversy, teen-idol-turned-cultural-icon Miley Cyrus.
The episode follows pop sensation Ashley O (Cyrus) and friendless superfan Rachel (Angourie Rice), who is desperate to be like her hero in spite of her sardonic sister Jack (Madison Davenport). However, when a line of superficial and sickly sweet AI dolls are released in the star’s name, we find out that something more sinister might be at play.
Brooker clearly had fun when he wrote this one. As bleak and brilliant as ever, each line and lyric, pointed look and derivative dance move – from both human and robot – bear the signature of TV’s most cynical son. The script is equal parts horrific and hilarious, delving once more into ways in which fail-safe technology falters only at the hands of human error. The story, which deals with the exploitative nature of the industry and the dangers of its spread into the virtual world, is all the more refreshing for putting the agency in the hands of three young women. Rice and Davenport spar beautifully as the diametrically opposed siblings, but the real shock comes from Cyrus, who proves her mettle as a high-calibre actress. Her dark side is a joy to behold, and even her robotic, Alexa-style encouragements are frighteningly convincing.
On top of the performances, the stylish execution elevates this episode into the realm of the cinematic. Glossy pink wigs, deviously designed special effects and a brilliant soundtrack adapted from the songs of Nine Inch Nails bring this razor-sharp caper to a pacey and action-packed finale.
Black Mirror is available on Netflix from 5th June 2019. Read a Q&A with Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones here.
Watch the trailer for Black Mirror Season 5 here: