Nosedive, Black Mirror

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Lacie rating a fellow citizen using her mobile phone Site
Type TV Series
Launch Date 21 October, 2016
Status active
Product Line product
Platform Netflix
osedive, the first episode of the third series of the British sci-fi series Black Mirror, was written by Michael Schur and co-written by Rashida Jones The episode is based on a story by Charlie Brooker. Nosedive was released on October 21st of 2016 on Netflix along with the rest of season three.

Inspired by controversial topics, this television series aims to analyze the consequences of technology in a modern society. Through satirical storytelling and dark predictions, the creators of Black Mirror offer their audience an alternative ending to our near future. This episode is just one of many that examines the implications of a new technology on society.

In an episode of Black Mirror titled “Nosedive”, it takes place in a world where people are rated on a scale of one to five stars. The ratings system is based on the idea that everything you do, from your social interactions with others to doing activities that denote positive or negative attributes, are rated accordingly through the usage of eye implants and mobile devices with your rating affecting your socioeconomic status. [1]

In the episode, the protagonist protagonist Lacie is ambitious to increase her rating in order to get a discount on an apartment after ending up as her childhood friend Naomi’s maid of honor in her wedding. [2] However, Lacie becomes obsessive about her rating that eventually leads to several incidents that makes her rating decline so much that in the end, she is in prison where ratings are non-existent. In one scene when she is at the airport, her flight is cancelled and is unable buy a seat on another flight with her lower rating. [3] Because of her low rating, Lacie can only rent an older car to drive to the wedding.

The concept of numerically assessing one’s social status and clout in the public’s eye is a concept based in our current reality of social media. Social Media perpetuates one’s social status and clout online through platforms that give people a voice to be heard by many based on the numerical value of your views, likes, followers and other metrics determined by each social media platform. [4]


Lacie Pound (Bryce Dallas Howard) is an above average citizen with a rating of 4.2 and stable job. Lacie currently lives with her brother, Ryan (James Norton), who has very little interest in ratings. Looking for a new apartment, Lacie finds a luxury apartment but needs a rating of 4.5 or above to qualify for the discounts she needs to afford such a place. Lacie sets out to raise her rating, but her continuous attempts to be warm and extroverted during social interactions are making very little progress towards her goal. Desperate for more progress, Lacie seeks help from a ratings specialist who suggests she surround herself with people who have higher ratings, as their ratings are worth more. After posting a photograph of a teddy bear who she calls Mr. Rags, her highly rated childhood friend Naomi (Alice Eve) rates her photo five stars after being touched by this throwback of making Mr. Rags as children. Naomi calls Lacie later that evening to get back in touch, revealing that she is engaged to be married. She asks if Lacie would be her maid of honor and deliver a speech at her wedding. Lacie agrees, hoping that she can make a good impact on the many highly rated individuals in attendance.

On the day Lacie is supposed to leave for the wedding, she gets into an argument with Ryan, accidentally spills the coffee of a passerby, and is late for her ride to the airport. During her drive, Lacie is disruptive to the driver during a call to Naomi. As a result of these interactions, Lacie’s score drops just below a 4.2. After arriving at the airport, Lacey discovers that her flight was cancelled and is unable to book another flight because her rating isn’t a 4.2 or above anymore. After raising her voice and having an altercation with the woman booking flights, Lacie receives a penalty from airport security temporarily dropping her score a full point for the next 24 hours. Her rating is now a 3.1, and imposing “double damage,” where all down votes are subject to a times two multiplier. She exits the airport and goes to a car rental where she is given an older model of vehicle due to her current low ranking. As a result, Lacie is no longer able to make the rehearsal dinner for Naomi’s wedding because of her unexpected delays. The car runs out of battery, but Lacie is unable to recharge her car because she doesn't have an adapter. Lacie is forced to hitchhike the rest of the way with Susan (Cherry Jones), a semi-truck driver with a 1.3 rating. Lacie discovers that Susan used to have a rating of 4.6 but stopped caring about ratings after her late husband was diagnosed with cancer and another person took his place in line for treatment because they had a tenth of a point higher rating than her husband.

While Lacie is hitchhiking in an RV, Naomi informs Lacie that she is no longer invited to the wedding in an attempt to protect her own rating from Lacie's low rating. Lacie is still determined to attend the wedding. After managing to sneak past the guards standing watch over the celebrity wedding, Lacie gets hold of the microphone and begins to read her prepared speech. Starting to get increasingly upset at her friend, Lacie grabs a knife and threatens several individuals before being detained by security. Lacie is brought to prison where the technology allowing her to see other people's ratings is taken out of her eyes. Lacie begins to argue and scream insults at a man in the cell across from hers (Sope Dirisu), both of whom begin to smile widely--implying they are both liberated from having to worry about their ratings.

Ethical Implications

This episode of Black Mirror brings to light the ethical implications a society that highly values social status and social interactions can face.


There are issues surrounding authenticity in this episode as seen by Lacie's persistent attempts to portray herself as someone she's not. Within the first five minutes of the episode, we see Lacie practicing different smiles and laughs to herself in the mirror, suggesting that she is able to successfully pull off a fake laugh even when she doesn't find something funny. Lacie's questionable authenticity is apparent when she uploads a photo of her morning coffee and a free cookie, captioning the photo with a favorable perception of the taste. In reality, Lacie spits out the cookie and has a slight look of disgust after taking her first sip of the drink. Her feelings about the food in front of her are portrayed differently online, but Lacie does not show her genuine reactions to the food to the people around her. Lacie continues to portray her life as more upscale when she makes tapenade, a dish that is obviously not often made by Lacie given her brother's confusion at her cooking the dish. After Lacie is contacted by Naomi, her authentic self is hidden even more as she tries to be a perfect maid of honor for Naomi. Lacie practices her maid of honor speech in front of Ryan with tears falling down her face only to be called a sociopath by her brother because of how easily she can feign her emotions. The turning point of the episode and downfall of Lacie's online ratings occurs when her brother Ryan speaks about his frustration with missing Lacie's "old self" and being able to have conversations with her before she became obsessed with getting higher ratings. Lacie striving to cultivate an inauthentic self online created major repercussions in her life with the people she had authentic relationships with. This episode sheds light on the fact that social media is threatening the value of authenticity and honesty, namely by giving the ability to misrepresent one’s personal interests, moods or experiences. According to Shannon Vallor, honesty includes putting one’s authentic self forward, even if it provokes the risk of being disliked or seeming different. This episode is portraying a woman who is not willing to portray her honest and authentic self in order to get ahead in society.[5]


The society in this episode has created a subjective system for individuals to gain the credibility that is needed to go after certain opportunities. This particular society bases one's self-worth and standing in society by how liked they are by their peers. Throughout the episode, we see Lacie unable to do things because she doesn't meet the required ratings. Lacie cannot buy a new apartment, re-book a flight, or rent a nicer car because of rating requirements she doesn't meet. This systemic disadvantage is perpetuated by wealth disparity as those who are wealthier in the society have more social standing. There are parallels between how this society functions in comparison to the U.S. Those who are wealthier and have a higher social rating experience more privilege in comparison to the rest of society as they are qualified for many opportunities. This differs from the U.S in that there are multiple sources of information that are taken into consideration in the U.S when determining whether an individual is qualified or credible for things such as buying a new home or renting a car. In Lacie's case, the primary barrier that disallows her from doing things is her ratings.

Nosedive vs. Instagram

The interface used on the mobile devices in this episode resembles the mobile interface of Instagram. Almost as a mockery of the Instagram social platform, the rating system is related to the number of likes a user may receive from a post. Just as Lacie is seen fighting to rise up in rating ranks, this is seen in real life with the checkmark on Instagram or Facebook. The comparison that Nosedive devices have to Instagram highlights that although the reality of the episode seems far fetched, it is actually taking places on the devices of many. This makes it abundantly clear that the psychological repercussions of both Nosedive and Instagram are disturbing, and similar in more ways that viewers might think. [6].

References in Media

The episode Nosedive has made many appearances in media after its debut in 2016 on Netflix. For instance, there have been a multitude of articles likening China's social credit system to the one shown in the this episode. For instance, Rachel Botsman of Wired suggests that living in a world where your daily interactions and activities are constantly evaluated isn't a future reality because it is already happening in China. With this system similar to that in Nosedive, China hopes to cultivate a trustworthy and sincere environment.[7] The app which China is using to rate it's citizens is called Sesame Credit, which was launched by Ant Financial in December 2017. The app uses ratings from social media and big data to reward its users based on their loyalty to China and its government.[8] Citizens can get points for posting good things online about the Chinese government or get negative points for things such as Jaywalking. Users with fewer points will experience negative impacts such as slower internet speed, inability to travel through plane or train, along with other negative implications. [9] Brooker acknowledged the similarities between the system he helped create for fiction and the one used in China as jarring.[10] The important difference between the two is that in "Nosedive" there is a central government that is determining this system, while the Social Credit Systems gives the public the power and influence.[11] Some articles tackle the ethical implications which China's Social Credit System, underlining the fact that while the system has potential to heighten surveillance, the privacy and freedom of China's citizens are being minimized.[12]


  1. Erin Brodwin, "What psychology actually says about the tragically social-media obsessed society in Black Mirror", Business Insider, 27 October 2016. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  2. Caroline Framke, "Nosedive is a social media nightmare dressed like a pastel daydream", Vox, Retrieved October 2016.
  3. Sophie Gilbert, "Nosedive Is a Sharp Satire About Social Media", The Atlantic, 21 October 2016. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
  4. Tasha Robinson, "Black Mirror's third season opens with a vicious take on social media", The Verge, 24 October 2016. Retrieved 12 August 2017.
  5. Vallor, Shannon. "Social Networking Technology and the Virtues". 11 August 2009.
  6. "Black Mirror Stars on the Terrifying Episode That May Make You Delete Your Instagram"
  7. Botsman, Rachel · (21 Oct, 2017) · [1] · "Big Data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens" · WIRED · 04-9-2021
  8. Hvistendahl, Mara · (14 Dec, 2017) · [2] · "Inside China's Vast New Experiment In Social Ranking" · WIRED · 04-9-2021
  9. Ma, A. (2018, April 08). China has started ranking citizens with a creepy 'social credit' system - here's what you can do wrong, and the embarrassing, demeaning ways they can punish you. Retrieved from
  10. Stern, Marlow · (27 Oct, 2016) · [3] · "‘Black Mirror’ Creator Charlie Brooker on China’s ‘Social Credit’ System and the Rise of Trump" · Daily Beast · 04-9-2021
  11. Sayer, Chris · (Dec, 2017) · [4] · "We got Charlie Brooker to rate real life ‘Black Mirror’ events" · ShortList · 04-9-2021
  12. Zeffer, Benjamin · (23 Feb, 2018) · [5] · "China's Social Credit System is like a Black Mirror Episode Come True" · SI 410 Ethics and ICT · 04-9-2021