Black Mirror season 6: What to expect as Netflix show finally returns

The dystopian drama is back for its most 'unpredictable' season yet

Salma Hayek in Black Mirror season 6
Oscar nominee Salma Hayek stars in Black Mirror season 6. (Netflix)

Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror is back on Netflix for a long-awaited sixth season.

The dystopian anthology series has recruited an all-star cast, including Salma Hayek and Aaron Paul, for a new batch of twisted sci-fi tales.

Here's everything you need to know before streaming the new episodes.

Black Mirror season 6 release date

The sixth season of Black Mirror is out on Netflix now. All five episodes were released at 8am today (Thursday, 15 June).

The streaming service said the new season is the most "unpredictable" and "unexpected" one yet, while creator Charlie Brooker said it introduces "new elements" to challenge viewers' expectations of the show.

Read more: The 10 best Black Mirror episodes

"The stories are all still tonally Black Mirror through-and-through," Brooker added, "but with some crazy swings and more variety than ever before."

The season was green-lit by Netflix last May, with Ms. Marvel showrunner Bisha K. Ali joining as an executive producer.

Aaron Paul in Black Mirror season 6
Aaron Paul in Black Mirror season 6. (Netflix)

Brooker previously played down speculation that the show could return. Speaking in 2020, as the world battled the COVID pandemic, he suggested that any new episodes would be too bleak for viewers to watch.

"At the moment, I don't know what stomach there would be for stories about societies falling apart, so I'm not working away on one of those," he told the Radio Times.

During the lockdowns, Brooker kept busy by working on several Netflix projects: two mockumentaries (Death to 2020 and 2021), an interactive cartoon series (Cat Burglar) and a one-off special (Attack of the Hollywood Cliches).

Black Mirror season 6 reviews

The return of Black Mirror has drawn mixed reviews. Some critics praised the new season's "terrifying" horror elements and "thought-provoking" performances, but others criticised Brooker for shaking up the show's "winning formula". Read the verdicts below:

Yahoo TV: Charlie Brooker's Netflix show is as terrifying as ever (3-min read)

The Guardian: Prepare to convulse in horror on the sofa (4-min read)

Evening Standard: Unsatisfying, pulpy sci-fi horror (3-min read)

The Independent: Sci-fi mishmash needs to stop messing with a winning formula (9-min read)

Black Mirror season 6 plot

Annie Murphy in Black Mirror season 6
Annie Murphy plays a woman whose life is turned into a TV drama. (Netflix)

As an anthology series, Black Mirror features standalone episodes that can be viewed in any order, making the show ideal for binge-watching. Ahead of season 6 being released, Netflix teased fans with some cryptic – but very intriguing – episode titles and summaries:

Joan is Awful

An average woman is stunned to discover a global streaming platform has launched a prestige TV drama adaptation of her life – in which she is portrayed by Hollywood A-lister Salma Hayek Pinault.

Loch Henry

A young couple travel to a sleepy Scottish town to start work on a genteel nature documentary, but find themselves drawn to a juicy local story involving shocking events of the past.

Kate Mara in Black Mirror season 6
Kate Mara in Black Mirror season 6. (Netflix)

Beyond the Sea

In an alternative 1969, two men on a perilous high-tech mission wrestle with the consequences of an unimaginable tragedy.

Mazey Day

A troubled starlet is dogged by invasive paparazzi while dealing with the consequences of a hit-and-run incident.

Demon 79

Northern England, 1979. A meek sales assistant is told she must commit terrible acts to prevent disaster.

Black Mirror trailer

The official trailer for Black Mirror season 6 gives viewers an idea of what to expect: lots more dystopia, fear and dark humour, plus Aaron Paul on a spaceship. Paul previously voiced a character in season four's Star Trek-inspired episode, USS Callister, although he plays a different role this time around.

The clip is sprinkled with Easter eggs referencing past episodes including The National Anthem, San Junipero and Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too. It also pokes fun at Netflix itself by introducing a parody streaming service, Streamberry, which appears in Joan is Awful.

Netflix previously released a more mysterious teaser clip for the season, which can be watched below.

Black Mirror season 6 cast

Paapa Essiedu in Black Mirror season 6.
Paapa Essiedu in Black Mirror season 6. (Netflix)

The glittering cast for Black Mirror season 6 includes Oscar nominee Salma Hayek, Arrested Development's Michael Cera, Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul and I May Destroy You star Paapa Essiedu.

Also joining the show are Schitt's Creek's Annie Murphy, Zazie Beetz (aka Sophie from Joker), House of Cards' Kate Mara and Yesterday actor Himesh Patel.

See the full cast list for each episode below:

Joan is Awful

  • Salma Hayek

  • Annie Murphy

  • Michael Cera

  • Rob Delaney

  • Ben Barnes

  • Himesh Patel

Loch Henry

  • Samuel Blenkin

  • Myha'la Herrold

  • Daniel Portman

  • John Hannah

  • Monica Dolan

Zazie Beets in Black Mirror season 6
Joker star Zazie Beets appears in the episode Mazey Day. (Netflix)

Beyond the Sea

  • Aaron Paul

  • Josh Hartnett

  • Kate Mara

  • Auden Thornton

  • Rory Culkin

Mazey Day

  • Zazie Beetz

  • Clara Rugaard

  • Danny Ramirez

Demon 79

  • Anjana Vasan

  • Paapa Essiedu

  • Katherine Rose Morley

  • David Shields

Black Mirror season 6 is out on Netflix now