The recently released fourth season of Black Mirror has made many steps in the right direction. All six episodes feature female leads, and diversity is front and center. But Black Mirror is receiving heat from Planned Parenthood over its depiction of the morning-after pill in “Arkangel” — and rightfully so.
Now, if you haven’t watched the episode yet, consider this your spoiler warning!
The episode in question, directed by Jodie Foster, centers on Marie (Rosemarie DeWitt), a mother who has a tracker of sorts, called Arkangel, inserted into her daughter, Sara (Brenna Harding), after nearly losing track of her at the park when she was just a toddler. And the device does much more than show Sara’s whereabouts: It also has a filter that prevents Sara from seeing stressful and violent imagery when turned on; it allows Marie to literally see what Sara sees; and, last but not least, it keeps tabs on Sara’s medical health.
Eventually, Marie stops using the device so Sara can lead a more normal life. But when Sara, now a teen, isn’t where she says she is, Marie turns to Arkangel once again and discovers that Sara is having sex with Trick (Owen Teague) — and later, that Sara is pregnant. Marie later sneaks an emergency contraception pill into Sara’s morning smoothie, effectively terminating the pregnancy. And Sara only finds out when she passes out at school, and the nurse informs her.
And this is where the show runs into problems — and where Planned Parenthood steps in.
Black Mirror gets the details of the morning-after pill seriously wrong.
“Sperm can actually live inside somebody’s body for up to six days after sex, waiting for an egg to show up to be fertilized. The morning-after pill works by temporarily stopping ovulation so the ovary doesn’t release an egg.”
Which is to say, the morning-after pill is *not* an abortion pill, as “Arkangel” suggests. Emergency contraception is most effective the sooner it’s taken, and it’s ineffective once a woman becomes pregnant.
Twitter called the mistake out, too.
Yes, this is Black Mirror, where there’s technology and medical advancements unlike anything we’ve seen before. But, as The Daily Beast points out, it’s dangerous to conflate emergency contraception and “the abortion pill” because that reinforces misconceptions. It’s irresponsible, and the last thing we all need is misinformation regarding women’s sexual health. Let’s please do better, Black Mirror.