The Netflix show Black Mirror famously portrays near-future dystopias that have some sci-fi technology twist. When the creators turned their lens to the dating world, the result was typically thought-provoking – and atypically optimistic.

The episode Hang the DJ (Season 4) follows protagonists Frank and Amy in their quest to find their perfect match. They are guided by an AI called Coach that matches them up with a partner for fixed lengths of time (anything ranging from a few hours to several years), in what appears to be an idyllic dating village. Coach monitors each relationship, with the end of goal of assigning each participant a life partner on “pairing day”… with a 99.8% success rate (just slightly higher than Tinder!).

Frank and Amy are first matched together for 12 hours, where we see them hitting it off (after some initial nerves). They then cycle through some other matches for what seems like several years, before they are matched together again, this time for 20 hours. After their second stint together, they once again continue with a series of fruitless matches, until Amy chooses Frank for one discretionary farewell session before her final pairing day. During this session, Amy convinces Frank to escape the village with her. Pursued by security, Frank and Amy run through their utopic village and scale a wall that separates them from the outside world. As they climb the wall, it is revealed that the village – and indeed their whole world – is actually one of 1000 simulations, in 998 of which Frank and Amy similarly rebelled. Back in the real world, Amy’s dating app notifies her that Frank is a 99.8% match, and they make eye contact for the first time across a crowded bar.

Hang the DJ offers much food for thought, and I had a few takeaways I’d like to share.

First was regarding what the creators suggest as the criteria for a good match: not simply saying they like each other or commit to each other, but performing a bold act of rebellion with their partner, choosing each other over the safety of the world they know. In a split second, Frank had to trust in Amy’s intuition about the simulation and choose to follow her in her daring escape. They form the ultimate couple bubble – an uber-romantic us-against-the-world unit.

Second, Amy and Frank’s near-perfect match is as match the result of the happiness of their experience with each other as it is of their disappointing experiences with their other matches. At one point, we see a montage of Amy’s various relationships and sexual encounters, where it appears she is disassociating, disconnected and dehumanized.

Finally, Hang the DJ also suggests that there is no closed form solution to a good relationship – you just have to try and see what works. In a way, this mirrors the evolution of online dating. We started with services like Match and eHarmony, which used proprietary algorithms to determine highly compatible matches. We then evolved to the likes of Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble, which simply give you a carousel of matches and encourage you to filter, connect, and try out relationships yourself.

Maybe one day an AI will be able to swipe right, simuladate, and ship for us until it finds the (near) perfect match. What will we do with all the time we save? Perhaps binge watch Black Mirror with our soulmate.