Black Mirror's 'Striking Vipers' is a Skin Deep Exploration of VR Sex

Black Mirror's "Striking Vipers" opens at the bar, where Danny (Anthony Mackie) roleplays picking up his girlfriend Theo (Nicole Beharie) for the first time. She's coy and feigning indifference, as he pretends to introduce himself and offers to buy her a drink. The jig is up when his best friend Karl (Abdul-Mateen II) rolls through with his own date, pulling Danny and Theo on the dance floor. It's a taste of the episode's deeper dive into identity—how social masks enliven attraction. Of course, technology presents opportunities for even more realistic roleplaying, further blurring the lines between what's "real" and "fake," what's acceptable and unacceptable.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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yyyyeaaaa… this episode seemed like an hour long “no homo” joke, which, like, no thx plz

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watched this last night, and nothing to add really, just want to say I was really happy to read this as it really validated how I felt about it and put things into words I wasn’t able to!! the last line in the piece is perfectly accurately savage IMHO.

interesting to contrast this episode (maybe the rest of the new season of Black Mirror? I dunno as I haven’t watched it) with the Twilight Zone reboot… which also felt “predictable” although I think that is absolutely on purpose and on brand for the series, but it never felt “antiquated” to me.

Actually I appreciated how the writer straddled the line between acknowledging the humor in having a romantic affair during a fighting game and taking the idea of love and sexuality in a virtual world seriously.

But I can’t argue with wanting to dig deeper into all the issues brought up in the article!

I think the review and trty0 may have viewed the episode from a mindset too focused on it being a homosexual coming-out story. Sure, a large part of it does explore that space, but I think the episode is primarily interested in portraying VR relationships as a completely separate type of relationship. That’s why the two don’t feel the same way they do in the game. Maybe, there is something fundamentally different in Karl and the MC, from the Roxanne and Lance in the video game- that might be why Karl compares being Roxanne to being an orchestra. Aside from “normal” irl body dismorphia, the obvious first guess. So, Black Mirror, primarily being a technology show, makes an episode about how VR could add a whole 'nother dimension to existing relationships. Seems like an interesting concept and execution to me.

Nice avatar. silksong hype!


Another way to look at this episode is that there are alternate much more likely versions of this story where their affair is just treated like a punch line, or even worse a deviancy that results in a stalker/murder plot line - I could see those versions in my head as the show played out and this was so much better.

I’m so glad Nicole wrote this article! It’s exactly how I felt after watching the episode, and I found it particularly frustrating to see a lot of reviewers calling this episode the best of the season.

I found it especially cringeworthy that they set up all these interesting dynamics and then ended the episode with a Video Games as the Other Woman metaphor (it was hardly even a metaphor, really, it was so hamfisted).

And then there are the totally nonsensical elements of the episode like the fact that they apparently built this fighting game in a way that allows for full on sex simulation and just throw it out there to the general public like NO BIGS ENJOY. Can we finally get it through to film and television folks that they probably shouldn’t be trying to run deep dives on games without like…playing them?

Black Mirror Season 6 is gonna be a dude fucking his female Snapchat filter. Calling it now.

Also, I truly don’t believe the “no homo” kiss at the end of this episode. Just don’t buy it at all.

Also full sensation fighting games sound like the worst idea ever. Because you know what was missing from Mortal Kombat, is personally feeling the internal bleeding as a flying knee caves your entire ribcage in.


It’s perfect for when it’s summer and you get hit by Sub Zeroes freeze

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