san junipero

The Lesbian Relationship Hiding in ‘Black Mirror’ Season 3

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MINOR SPOILER ALERT: While this post contains some introductory spoilers for Black Mirror season 3, episode 4 (“San Junipero”), it does not spoil the big reveal. That is, you can read this article and still enjoy the episode’s many surprises afterwards.

Black Mirror, season 3, episode 4, San Junipero, Kelly, Yorkie
Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) and Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) share a moment in “San Junipero”.

Amongst the technophobic thrills of the sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror is a lesbian relationship situated in “San Junipero”, the fourth episode of season three. It’s not so much “hiding” as waiting to be discovered like a neon-lit glimmer in a dark, rainy alley.

Though the episode still retains an air of death and menace (this is Black Mirror, after all), “San Junipero” differs from the series’ other episodes with its defiant optimism and focus on two women: Kelly, a confident and outgoing party-girl, and Yorkie, a shy and seemingly naive young woman.

Kelly is bisexual and Yorkie is a lesbian, and when the two meet at a bar in the beachside town of San Junipero, they instantly hit it off. But over time, Kelly seems resistant about developing a serious bond — could it be because Yorkie is engaged to a man or because Kelly always seems to disappear at the stroke of midnight?

As their backstories become clearer, homophobia plays a partial role — both in how they meet and what threatens to keep them apart — but the episode deftly avoids sensationalizing their encounter or veering into violence by focusing on their emotional lives. As a result, “San Junipero” feels warmer and more human than any other Black Mirror episode ever, and viewers finally get some queer representation in the series, something that’s especially important considering Black Mirror‘s popularity and the fact that it has never had an openly queer character before.