Though its title calls to mind the cyber-glamour of Humans or the Black Mirror episode ‘San Junipero’, virtual reality in KISS ME FIRST is a distraction from seventeen-year-old Leila’s (Tallulah Haddon) bleak reality- her terminally ill mother having recently died.


Initially Azara looks like any other virtual reality game but when Leila stumbles into a secret corner of the game, she finds a group of misfits who would rather talk than fight.

If that already felt like an unwelcome jolt from reality, Tess (Simona Brown), the player behind one of the misfit avatars turns up in her real world and persuades Leila to join her and her fellow misfits, all of which have secrets and troubles in the real world.

So far it’s incredibly downbeat, though it does feel like it captures the realities of gaming and virtual reality more accurately. Rather than focusing on elaborate technological utopias, the focus is on why people are drawn to gaming.

Haddon makes Leila’s introversion enigmatic, although the shadowy secrets Tess alludes to seems like it will be predictable when finally revealed. Brown is intriguing, bringing Tess out of her shell, though as with all the characters, her motivation may be ambiguous.

The mid-credit sequence promises more action in later episodes, which might lighten the bleakness, but this is a brave commentary on the effects of virtual reality on society as they are now, not in a thankfully distant future.

- Aired on Channel 4, April 2 2018 at 22:00.

Kelyn Luther

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