This pairing was actually recommended in a recent episode of the Books on the Nightstand podcast. In a great twist of fate, I placed a library hold on Tenth of December the day before listening to the episode and ended up binge watching the show while I read. It was perfection.
Remember when short stories weren’t my thing? I think I was just reading the wrong short stories. I’ve discovered through Margaret Atwood’s Stone Mattress, Simon Rich’s Spoiled Brats and now George Saunders that the format is perfect for dark humor and satire. The raves you’ve heard about Tenth of December? They’re all spot on. So much of what I loved about Spoiled Brats is echoed in this collection, but twisted to critique money, morality and human connection in a society just one tick off our own. My favorite story follows a father who wins the lottery and immediately buys a set of Semplica Girls—women from third-world countries paid to act as lawn ornaments—in order to keep up with the wealthy families in his children’s classrooms. Saunders also demonstrates his ability to write a perfectly passive aggressive mass e-mail (re: quality control) from a supervisor that’s nearly impossible not to giggle through.
Black Mirror is old news for those of you in the UK, but it just hit Netflix in the US so we’re jumping on the bandwagon. The show’s two seasons are both just three episodes long, with a completely different cast and storyline each episode, and focus on the “dark side of technology”. Are we seeing the short story connection? It’s billed as sci-fi, but in many episodes feels more like a hyper-advanced version of our own society, which is very similar to the settings created by George Saunders in Tenth of December. The trailer below combines elements from the first three episodes and gives a good overview of the show (slightly NSFW, watch out for the swears!).