This article was published on July 31st, 2017
Critics are calling it the best hour of TV they’ve seen all year, and for good reason. Winner of the GLAAD Media award for Outstanding Individual Episode and nominated for Two Emmy’s, San Junipero stands as a solid queer-themed front runner for award season 2017. It’s one of the most talked about episodes of television in recent years and for good reason. San Junipero is a cinematic masterpiece of a love story that illustrates that emotion has no gender and feelings can be timeless.
Black Mirror is a British Show serving kind of a Twilight Zone type of feel, except that every episode of Black Mirror highlights a sort of dystopian future that comes along with technological advancements. Each episode, set with A different storyline, characters, actors, and setting illustrates an often-dismal look at human kind in the not so far off time to come. Now in its third season, Black Mirror had previously built a loyal fan base of folks solely interested in the science or physiological aspects of the series. That is, until San Junipero came along.
The first episode of the series set outside the U.K., San Junipero is the fourth episode of season three, and the first to be produced exclusively by Netflix. The first episode to be filmed in the United States with American actors, San Junipero is set in a fictitious town in Southern California and could certainly, not just as the title, be considered one of the “stars” of the episode. A lively and beautiful beach town where everyone seemingly has fun and dances the night away, San Junipero serves as a stunning background scenery for a complicated love story.
Yorkie (yes, that’s her character’s name) is a visitor passing through sunny San Junipero. Obviously looking for something or some connection, she ventures into the local video arcade/dance club in an obvious attempt to connect with other people. There, she accidentally meets Kelly, a vivacious woman also passing through San Junipero. The two women immediately bond when Yorkie inadvertently helps Kelly ditch a guy that ha following her. Drinks and conversation between the two ladies leads to them dancing with each other on the dance floor, where they really see one another for the first time. Yorkie becomes so overwhelmed with feelings she doesn’t quite understand and flees the scene, only to have Kelly chasing after.
Thus, begins an affair between the two ladies that is beautiful, bizarre, and one that transcends time. The ladies are only allowed, it seems, limited interludes with one another, and Yorkie must go searching through space and time to catch up to Kelly, who could just be the love of her life. A love spanning three decades that questions the morality of relationships, life, death, and letting go is just the tip of the ice burg in San Junipero. And (without spoiling anything) for the first time in the Black Mirror series, the audience is left feeling hopeful about the future.
One of the most beautiful things about San Junipero is the choice to make it a gay love story. San Junipero would have been a beautiful tale with or without queer characters, but the choice to make it a lesbian love story was one that has more than just the lgbtqa community cheering. Critics agree that having the romance be between two women gave the episode an extra depth of vulnerability. We learn that Yorkie was a virgin before sleeping with Kelly, partially because she has always felt a guilt that can come from being a homosexual with a family that doesn’t understand or disowns you. Both women feel a connection that is so deep that even the audience is left hoping they stay together forever.
This is the year for the queer female when it comes to Emmy nominations. Samira Wiley, Lilly Tomlin, Evan Rachel Wood, Jane Lynch, Kate McKinnon, Laverne Cox and Shannon Purser are all nominated for acting in their respective categories. Ellen Paige’s ‘Gaycation’ is up for “Best Unstructured Reality Series”. Wanda Sykes is up for “Best Guest Actress in a Comedy Series” for the show “Black-ish”. Director Jamie Babbit (of But I’m A Cheerleader directing game) is nominated for “Outstanding Director”. And queer writer Lena Waithe was nominated for an episode of “Master of None”. San Junipero might be the hour of television that stands out from 2017 as being more than just a love story between two women. It’s a love story, plain and simple, that happens to be so well done that it has touched a lot of us. Won’t you take a visit to beautiful and touching San Junipero?