3 out of 5 stars

Black Mirror’s “Mazey Day” explores the dark side of fame and the paparazzi’s obsession with exposing the lives of the rich and famous. Already considered to be one of the worst episodes of the sixth series by many people, “Mazey Day” is indeed a mess of malformed ideas and half-baked characters.

This episode takes place in 2006, indicated by a radio announcer talking about the birth of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s daughter Suri and a news broadcast about the ongoing Iraq War. Here we meet Bo (Deadpool 2s Zazie Beetz), a paparazzo who tracks down celebrities in compromising positions to photograph, before selling the scandalous images for money. She’s first seen taking photos of a closeted actor stepping out of a motel room, with her boss later offering $500 for all the photos until she haggles for $300 apiece.

One can tell Bo’s conflicted about her work and how it ruins lives for the sake of a quick buck. Her fellow paparazzo Hec (Danny Ramirez) reminds her that anything that happens after the photos are published isn’t her fault, but she sees how others treat the Britney and Paris Hilton-type starlets and can’t help feeling guilty about her role in this subculture. But the rent needs to be paid somehow and Bo knows nothing else than working as a tabloid photographer.

We also meet the eponymous Mazey Day (Clara Rugaard), who’s a promising young actress shooting a film in Europe but struggling with substance abuse and seemingly on the brink of imploding. And once Day returns to Los Angeles, she immediately goes into hiding which makes her photos a hot commodity. So just as guilt-ridden Bo thinks she’s out of the game, the idea of getting a photo of the illusive Mazey (and the enormous paycheck that comes with it) draws her back in. And so Bo puts her detective skills to fine use and tracks down where the actress is hiding: an isolated wellness centre, recovering from a traumatic incident during the filming of her latest movie.

The problem this episode of Black Mirror has is that none of these characters are written with any depth. Perhaps Charlie Brooker wants the audience to implant their own favourite celebrity onto Mazey because she isn’t a very engaging protagonist.

It’s impossible to root for all the photographers too. Even once the story’s big twist is revealed, there’s still nothing redeeming about these characters. They all use dirty tricks to find the starlet’s whereabouts (from GPS trackers to bribery and name-calling), and not even mortal danger can take away their lust for getting that last photo. ‘I need to pay my rent’ isn’t a good enough motive to even semi-care about the well-being of these people. It’s not helped that none of them come with backstories or context as to why they chose this profession.

Running 42 minutes, “Mazey Day” is by far the shortest episode of Black Mirror‘s latest series. The brisk pacing is certainly refreshing after the slower-paced episodes that preceded it, but despite some fun moments the morality tales Black Mirror‘s become known for is lost with a cheesy third-act twist. Perhaps extra time spent filling out this world may have helped the final crazy reveal.

There’s a switch of genres that helps the pacing but it also dulls the core message of the episode. The celebrity/ paparazzi dynamic was an interesting concept to explore, so it didn’t need to turn into a straightforward horror story. The genuine scares come from the realism of the bottom-feeding paps who literally risk their lives to invade the privacy of others, not the fantastical elements.

“Mazey Day” is a messy entry into the Black Mirror canon. What should have been a sharp takedown of celebrity culture instead becomes an underwritten mess of genres and unlikable characters.

UK | 2023 | 42 MINUTES | 16:9 HD | COLOUR | ENGLISH

frame rated divider netflix

Cast & Crew

writer: Charlie Brooker.
director: Uta Briesewitz.
starring: Zazie Beets, Clara Rugaard & Danny Ramirez.