Now streaming: “Black Mirror” on Netflix features Miley Cyrus in creepy, funny episode

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Usually, depending on viewers’ perspectives, shows that feature pop stars playing themselves or someone just like them are predictable at best.  Not so much when Miley Cyrus stars as Ashley in the “Black Mirror” episode titled “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” now streaming on Netflix.

“Black Mirror” is known for its weirdness and reality-bending. Thus, expectations are set for this latest season of the show.

Miley Cyrus as Ashley and Ashley Too

The storyline is simple enough: Pop star appears on talk show to hawk new thing. In this case, it is an eerie cartoon version of Ashley called, “Ashley Too.” The doll is part Siri, Alexa and Talking Tina from an old “Twilight Zone” episode. She kind of looks like a Precious Moments figurine.

Musically, Ashley the human, can be seen in various videos watched by a devoted teenage fan. Her music is a pop-oriented version of Nine Inch Nails.

Some red flags about Ashley Too: her conversations are too real-time authentic. She asks Rachel, the lonely teenage girl who has received the doll for her 15th birthday, nosy questions that go beyond standard conversations. Thankfully, Rachel can quiet her by saying “Ashley, go to sleep.”

Also, for all her technology-grounding, Ashley Too is still a doll. Would a teenage girl be interested in a doll? Even one that offered makeover tips and dance tutorials?

Those misgivings aside, watching Ashley Too stop being so polite after human Ashley slips into a coma is fun. She comes to life with a scream. Cyrus’ voice is used for all of Ashley Too’s vocalizations. She uses bad words, is sarcastic and impatient. Her rougher side might remind some viewers of the old Talking Tina doll.

Both Rachel and the real Ashley share similarities (dead mothers) and their stories are told so that viewers can see them having difficulties at roughly the same time.

“Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too” reminds viewers how much control over their lives people give technology and celebrities.

While the episode could have been titled, “Growing Up in the Age of AI,” or “I Was A Tech-Obsessed Teen,” mostly it has all the weirdness and creep factor that people have come to expect from “Black Mirror.”

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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