We all know that The Simpsons has predicted the future over and over again, but it’s not that inconceivable that an often fantastical animated series with *counts fingers* 618 episodes in the can and dozens upon dozens of characters would get things right sometimes — kind of like a thousand chimpanzees typing on a thousand typewriters and all that. But a show like Friends, on the other hand, with just a “measly” 236 episodes that was set on a soundstage with like, six main characters and a few handful of recurring guest stars that mostly revolved around coffee chatter and who was dating who… well, not so much for predicting the future?
But then comes the above clip, dug up by Netflix, ostensibly in promotion of season four of Black Mirror. In a clip taken from the 1999 episode “The One Where Phoebe Runs,” Ross theorizes: “By the year 2030, there will be computers that can carry out the same amount of functions as an actual human brain. So, theoretically, you can download your thoughts and memories into this computer, and… and… live forever as a machine!”
Presented without commentary, the plot description of “San Junipero”:
The episode is set in 1987 in a beach resort town named San Junipero, where Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis), a shy woman visiting the town, meets and has sex with the more outgoing Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). The town is revealed to be a simulated reality in which the elderly and deceased can live, and Yorkie is a quadriplegic woman who wishes to be euthanised so she can inhabit it permanently. Kelly marries Yorkie so she can legally authorise this, but is reluctant to join her due to Kelly’s husband and daughter having died without joining San Junipero. However, she later decides she is ready to join, and is uploaded to San Junipero so she can be with Yorkie.
So… Did Charlie Booker used to watch a lot of Friends? Or was Ross less dumb of a character than any of us ever gave him credit for being? Should we have been taking Ross from Friends seriously this whole time? That’s a more terrifying thought than almost anything from Black Mirror.