TV Review: Channel 4's Cyberbully

Warning: this review includes spoilers


I'm not going to lie, this completely freaked me out. Probably not helped by the fact that was watching it in a darkened room while home alone and on 4OD, although thankfully not through my laptop. If I had been watching it through my laptop, I don't think I would have been able to keep watching it.

I thought the storyline was going to be fairly predictable, with a girl being cyberbullied and the show leading through her dealing with this. However, this was far from the truth. This was proved almost from the start where the hacker proved he had complete control of the girl's laptop with a screamer being played on screen. Not expecting this at all, it completely made me jump.

I didn't get any less freaked out as I continued to watch it either, this is despite never being cyberbullied myself, nor cyberbullying anyone else. I think the thing that got me the most was the fact that this program description stated that "The plot of Cyberbully is inspired by dozens of real-life cases". This made me scared that someone could hack into my computer, and therefore as shown in the program, my webcam, however as with most TV programs I would assume that the whole thing has been exaggerated in order to make the program more impactful.

The main girl was played by Maisie Williams and was basically the only character in this, having an almost monologue for 80% of the program with only a computerised voice talking back. I thought she played the role perfectly, and you completely believed and felt for her the whole way through. The program was also clever in that it basically used one room for the whole one hour show, with only her visiting her en-suite a couple of times to break this up. This made the tension build and the program even more impactful in my opinion as it made it seem like the girl's room was being treated as a prison for her, unable to leave or escape the hacker and what he wanted to show her.

The whole way through I tried to tell myself to turn it off, to stop watching, but I couldn't, the atmosphere and tension created in this program was amazing and I found myself unable to stop watching. Almost hoping there would be a Disney-esque happy ending.
Although I was convinced there wouldn't be, the program actually left on a high note, with the girl, proved to be the anti-hero at this point, able to almost overcome the hacker. This all possible because her best friend had called her home number and left a message with the girl's dad saying 'I know this isn't you'.

I am unsure where the program is meant to leave you thinking, perhaps it is reminding us that online is not a friendly place, and trying to say that the attitude of the modern teen is unacceptable. I did actually feel a little sorry for the girl's Dad the whole way through, only trying to help and offering to cook her tea, but even before she was being made to push him away she was doing it herself. I would like to think that the reason the writers chose to end the program on a high note would be because it proves that we can overcome cyberbullying and that you should never think that you are alone in facing your problems.

In conclusion: a must see, although you might not forget it for a while.

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