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5 Black Mirror Episodes That Depict Wigs As An Insidious Technology That Will Doom Humanity

For 6 bone-chilling seasons, Black Mirror has been revealing the dark side of our technological age. The show has explored the dangers of technologies as wide-ranging as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and social media, but no invention has been the subject of more darkly prophetic Black Mirror episodes than wigs. Here are 5 Black Mirror episodes that depict wigs as an insidious technology that will doom humanity.

1. Season 1, Episode 4: “Transmissions From The Hive”

In this bone-chilling episode, the massive tech company Forbidden Fruit (which bears a suspicious resemblance to a certain Cupertino-based corporation we won’t mention here) introduces a line of wigs called the Beehive–a synthetic beehive hairdo that emits a high-frequency whine designed to scare away owls who might try to roost in people’s hair.

At first the wigs are a huge hit. People start deliberately exposing themselves to radioactive waste so that their hair will fall out and they’ll have an excuse to buy the Beehive wigs. However, this idyllic depiction of a wig-studded utopia is soon revealed to have a dark side: it turns out that the CEO of Forbidden Fruit (played by Jeremy Strong from Succession) is actually a spy working for a hostile race of extraterrestrials, and the same high-frequency signal that the wig uses to scare owls away also contains an encrypted radio message that is being broadcast to the aliens. The contents of that message? The coordinates of every hospital in the world.

Using the information emitted by the beehive wigs, the aliens are able to locate and destroy every hospital in existence, thus dooming the human race to sure extinction. The episode was a sober look at what could happen if wig technology is allowed to progress unchecked.

2. Season 3, Episode 2: “Gone Tomorrow”

This episode starts innocently enough: A devoted family man named Dave (played by Steve Zahn) sees an advertisement on his church bulletin board that a local barbershop is holding a raffle for one free haircut. Dave desperately wants to win the free haircut, but there’s just one problem–he’s bald. When he announces his plans to buy a wig to his family, they’re thrilled. His wife (played by Courtney Cox) and two children (played by Maude Appatow and Stranger Things’ Noah Schnapp) tell Dave that he’ll look cool in a wig, and his son says he’ll finally stop getting beat up at school for having a bald dad. With the support of his family, Dave goes to the Red Light District and purchases a toupee from a Russian mobster (played by Christopher Lee in his final role before his death).

At first, Dave’s life seems to be massively improved by his new wig. His family gives him a standing ovation whenever he enters a room. Dave’s boss gives him a promotion at work after Dave uses his wig to soak up a coffee spill. And, best of all, Dave wins the raffle for the free haircut at the barbershop.

Unfortunately, that’s where things take a turn. The free haircut ends up taking 72 hours, and in the three days that Dave’s at the barbershop, his family forgets that he bought a wig. When Dave returns home after his three-day haircut, his wife sees his full head of hair and, forgetting that her once-bald husband purchased a wig earlier that week, mistakes him for an intruder and shoots him in the chest with a crossbow. As Dave lies dead on the floor, the blood from the hole in his chest flows onto the floor and is soaked up by his wig. It’s a bone-chilling reminder from the Black Mirror team that wig technology can be as much a tool for destruction as it is for creation.

3. Season 4, Episode 5: “Jailhouse Rock”

At the heart of this episode is a bone-chilling question: What if humans stopped making wigs by hand and started allowing machines to mass-produce wigs at an unprecedented rate? The episode begins when a suave, sexy tech genius named Sebastian (played by Pedro Pascal), invents a machine capable of automating the entire wig production process. The only downside is that every wig the machine makes looks exactly the same: an Elvis-style pompadour. At first, that seems like a small price to pay for the apparent benefits that Sebastian’s wig-making machine offers to the human race. The price of wigs plummets, and hairpieces become available not just to the obscenely wealthy, but also to the average person. Millions of people all over the world can finally purchase mass-produced Elvis wigs thanks to Sebastian’s invention.

In typical Black Mirror fashion, what seems to be a dream society is quickly revealed to be a nightmarish hellscape. A $200 coat is stolen from a department store, and the only identifying detail on the security camera is that the masked thief was wearing a fake pompadour created by Sebastian’s machine. The police have no choice but to arrest everyone in the world wearing an Elvis wig–all 400 million of them. The episode ends with a bone-chilling montage of gigantic prison complexes being built in the middle of the ocean to house the newly incarcerated wig customers. The final shot of Sebastian watching his machine continue to make wig after wig as he is tormented by the guilt of what his creation has unleashed on the world is one of the most bone-chilling shots in Black Mirror history.

4. Season 4, Episode 6: “Follicular Folly”

In this bone-chilling season four finale, a nameless woman (played by Gillian Anderson) tries to drink root beer out of a huge tin bucket by dipping a wig into the bucket, letting the wig soak up some root beer, and then sucking the root beer out of the wig. At first, this seems like the perfect way to drink root beer. But things take a dark turn. The woman accidentally sucks on the wig too hard and inhales it. She chokes to death, and viewers are left wondering whether a world with wigs in it is really a world worth living in at all. Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker has called this episode his personal pick for the most bone-chilling episode of the entire series.

5. Season 6, Episode 1: “Under The Rug”

Black Mirror’s season six premiere proved that after all this time, the show was just as bone-chilling as ever. The story begins with an aspiring clone scientist named Dale (played by The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White) landing his dream job at Gemini CloneWorks, the hottest clone lab in Silicon Valley. The only problem is that Dale has recently shaved his head and gotten a tattoo on his scalp that says “Work Is For The Birds.” Dale knows that if his new bosses at the clone factory see this tattoo, he’ll be fired, so in an act of desperation, on his way to his first day of work Dale visits the Red Light District and buys a wig from a Russian mobster (played by Ray Liotta in his final role before his death).

At first, things seem to be going great for Dale. His wig conceals his offensive tattoo and he earns the admiration of his colleagues and supervisors at Gemini CloneWorks after he clones the friendliest woman in the world, thus doubling the reach of her kindness. It seems like he’s on the fast-track to success.

But then the episode hits you with one of Black Mirror’s patented bone-chilling twists: After Dale saves an understaffed children’s hospital by cloning the same doctor 500 times, the CEO of Gemini CloneWorks is so impressed that he pats Dale on the head too hard and knocks his wig into the cloning machine. Unfortunately for humanity, it turns out that the wig was made from the hair of Genghis Khan. The machine creates a Ghengis Khan clone out of the DNA contained in Dale’s wig and Ghengis Khan leads a ruthless horde of armed horsemen across the United States, slaughtering everyone in their path.

The episode’s final montage of unspeakable carnage–depicting the Ghengis Khan clone and his riders burning down San Francisco and slashing the throats of innocent civilians as they try to flee the flaming wreckage of the city–is nothing short of bone-chilling. As Dale watches the city burn and listens to the screams of the innocent in the streets, his boss sees his “Work Is For The Birds” tattoo and fires him. “It’s only your first day, and you’ve already destroyed San Francisco,” his boss snarls. “It wasn’t me!” Dale protests in the episode’s final moments. “It was the wig!” The CEO shoots him a pitiless glare and says, “And tell me, where does the wig end and the man begin?” It’s an ending as profound and thought-provoking as it is bone-chilling–in other words, a perfect episode of Black Mirror.