For a moment at least, its final flourish gives audiences still stuck in a 2017 hellscape hope.episodes of the Trump/Weinstein era, the story arrives during one of heterosexuality’s lowest polling moments in recent memory.It’s smart and even kind to promise those of us trying not to drown that there may be hope for love in such a dystopia as ours—and that that hope can exist somewhere between the 100% human and the 100% mathematical.
With a Sigur Rós-esque score to rival ’s soul-rending, almost abusive deployment of Album Leaf’s song “The Light,” the tenderness between them is enhanced, their delicate chemistry ever vulnerable to annihilation by algorithm.
Frank and Amy’s shared uncertainty about the System——mirrors our own skepticism about our own proto-System, those costly online services whose big promises we must blindly trust to reap romantic success.
Though their System is intentionally depressing for us as an audience, it’s marketed to them as a solution to the problems that plagued single people of yesteryear—that is, the problems that plague us, today.
Among its six episodes, which hit Netflix on Friday, is “Hang the DJ,” a heartbreaking hour that explores the emotional and technological limits of dating apps, and in doing so perfectly captures the modern desperation of trusting algorithms to find us love—and, in fact, of dating in this era at all.(Spoiler alert: major spoilers for the episode “Hang the DJ” follow.)The story follows Frank (Joe Cole) and Amy (Georgina Campbell), millennials navigating an opaque, AI-powered dating program they call “the System.” With disc-like smart devices, or “Coaches,” the antiseptically calculating System leads participants through mandatory relationships of varying durations in an enclosed campus, assuaging doubts with the cool assurance that it’s all for love: every assignment helps provide its algorithm with enough meaningful data to eventually pair you, at 99.8% accuracy, with “your perfect match.”The System designs and facilitates every encounter, from pre-ordering meals to hailing autonomous shuttles that carry each couple to a tiny-house suite, where they must cohabit until their “expiry date,” a predetermined time at which the relationship will end.
(Failure to comply with the System’s design, your Coach warns, will result in banishment.) Participants are encouraged to check a relationship’s expiry date together, but beyond remaining together until that time, are free to behave naturally—or as naturally as possible, given the suffocating circumstances.