“Nosedive” has a compelling, frightening, and eerily familiar premise. The story takes place in a high-tech society where people use a phone app to rate people on a scale of one to five based on their real-life social interactions and online photos. Essentially, the writers took what we do implicitly in today’s society with social media platforms like Instagram, Youtube, and Reddit that have “like/dislike” and “upvote/downvote” systems and made it explicit. The story follows Lacie, the protagonist, as she desperately claws her way up the social ladder. She acts as if her livelihood is at stake when someone downvotes them — and that’s because it is. A score symbolizes a person’s social status and determines what privileges are afforded to them, and these rankings are visible to everyone. As Lacie’s score shifts along the rating scale, we see the dynamics of social class and discrimination at play.
I love how the writers criticize society, technology, and social media by magnifying the ways that they distort reality, obstruct authentic social interaction, and restrict individualism. People are socialized to believe that “likes” and “followers” are inherently valuable and that we should aspire to be and live like “influencers” on social media because that will make us happy. Society tells us to strive for a higher number of likes and followers because if we don’t, it reflects poorly on us and our social status. Thus, we seek validation — 5-star ratings, “likes”, “upvotes” — from friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and even strangers to boost our egos. We are perpetually anxious about whether or not people “like” us and our content, which motivates our need to perform more and do more to please other people. People put on happy facades and publicize only the highlights of their life on social media because that is what appeals to people. This exemplifies how social interactions, in real life and online, can be fabricated to appear however the person intends for it to be. People are no longer considered people, but rather they have become numbers in someone else’s scheme to gain higher social standing. The rating system reveals that social media is toxic because it promotes an unrealistic and unattainable lifestyle. It is unhealthy to attribute these superficial and fleeting signs of attention and acceptance to your self-worth, and it is emotionally exhausting and unnecessary to constantly compare yourself to others and be in “on” mode.
Lacie was the perfect vehicle for the writers’ message. She believes in the system and believes that if she boosts her score from 4.2 to 4.5, she will be more content with her life. However, the more she tries to please other people with her high-pitched voice, forced smile, obnoxious laugh, and well-manicured photos, the more you see her bubbly persona strain and eventually crack under pressure. When Lacie gets her first 1-star rating, it triggers a domino effect, and her score takes a literal nosedive. As you watch her score fall from 4.2 to below a 1, you see her character change drastically. She acts hostile and volatile towards other people because she no longer cares about being downrated, she just wants to express herself freely. In the final scene, Lacie is liberated from the rating system in an unexpected way, and without it, she is finally able to express all the raw, unbridled emotions that she had been suppressing. By the end of the episode, her character has done a complete 180 for the better.
There were many elements to this episode, but the writers did a phenomenal job at pacing and piecing it all together. Although Lacie had several opportunities to be her authentic self and stop obsessing over her score, I’m glad that the story didn’t go down this route because it wouldn’t be realistic. It is not a simple feat to quit an addiction or realize that society is corrupt and flawed. What Lacie needed was to experience a rude awakening, and I like how this process happens gradually.
This is the second time I’ve watched “Nosedive”, and it’s one of those shows that only get better the more you watch it and engage with it. It was interesting to notice nuances and to unpack issues that I hadn’t paid attention to the first time around. I highly recommend this episode to anyone. After taking all of these factors into consideration, I rate “Nosedive” 5/5 stars.
After reading this review, consider the following: is technology a problem in and of itself, or is it the people who design and use it, or is it both?
What do you think of “Nosedive”? Leave a comment below!
Cover Photo: screencap of “Nosedive”