How Black Mirror's San Junipero Inspired Damon Lindelof's Mrs. Davis

When you think of truly great episodes of television from the 2010s, the chances are high that you will think of "San Junipero." Hailing from the third season of the British anthology series "Black Mirror," the episode introduced viewers to a world where the consciousnesses of elderly or deceased individuals can essentially become immortalized in a computer simulation. Of course, you can't talk about "San Junipero" without talking about the heart-wrenching love story between its main characters, Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis), as well as its effectively nuanced depiction of nostalgia.

Peacock's upcoming series "Mrs. Davis" might not be as cautiously optimistic as "San Junipero" was, at least based on what we've seen of it so far. However, according to showrunner Tara Hernandez, the "Black Mirror" episode actually served as an important tonal benchmark for the ambitious sci-fi series, and for good reason. Speaking to Vulture, Hernandez said her goal was to "never let the tech or artifice overtake the humanity and relationships" on the show, much like "San Junipero" does. It's an important distinction to make, too, on a series that's all about juxtaposing humanity with artificial intelligence. After all, if real-world AI programs can generate pieces of so-called "art" based entirely on algorithms, what's stopping them from eventually trying to clamp down on other uniquely human traits and abilities?

Complacency through technology

As you may recall, "Mrs. Davis" centers on the titular AI, whose invention has seemingly made everyone's lives much easier in the future. Simone, a nun played by Betty Gilpin), has a far more skeptical outlook on the situation, fearing the tech is reaching a sinister point of no return. In time, upon reuniting with her ex-boyfriend Wiley (Jake McDorman), Simone even finds herself on a quest to destroy Mrs. Davis before it's too late.

All things considered, the show's setting doesn't sound too dissimilar from the titular world of "San Junipero." The episode's simulated reality is primarily used by people as an escape from the real world or a restart after the death of someone close to them. The thing is, as Kelly and Yorkie gradually come to realize, we shouldn't allow these technologies to be bandaids or cures for what we have experienced in our real lives. This is especially true if these programs and inventions exploit our unavoidable nostalgic feelings for better times.

"The whole '80s vibe of the episode — the music, the color, the costume design, all that stuff — just seemed so welcoming," said series producer Damon Lindelof in the same Vulture interview. Still, just because it's welcoming doesn't mean it has the best of intentions — an idea at the core of "San Junipero" and one that may yet hold true for the potentially-nefarious Mrs. Davis. We'll see if that's the case when "Mrs. Davis" the show premieres its first three episodes on Peacock on April 20, 2023.