After watching all other seasons of Black Mirror, it seems apparent that sex isn’t as pervasive in other episodes. Black Mirror seems to have focused more on Psychological Thriller, whereas this episode focuses almost exclusively on sex. This article could breakdown the questions asked by this episode: Are online matters considered cheating? When IS it considered cheating? Investigate how sexuality is questioned in this episode and comment on societal changes to our approaches of sex and sexuality.
I made a similar observation after watching this episode, and I think even though it's one of the weaker episodes of the show, it definitely plays with themes of sex and sexuality in interesting ways. I do think that some episodes address sexuality more clearly (the famous San Junipero episode comes to mind immediately), but Striking Vipers seems like a more modern take on same-sex relations because the climactic kiss in the rain was treated as a casual, logical next step, and they were not necessarily concerned about being gay; it was all about finding out if they were actually interested in one another. Closer to the observation you are making, I think the questions of sex, infidelity, and the digital spaces we inhabit is fascinating. This episode definitely raises more questions than it answers, but they are important questions as we move further into a 21st century relationship world. I hope this topic gets picked up. – Aaron2 years ago
I think it's fairly obvious that yes, it is cheating. The way the episode is framed makes it abundantly clear that the main character knows he's cheating. He feels constant guilt, and it causes a strain on his relationship with his wife. It only becomes not cheating when his wife gives him permission to hook up with his friend online on his birthday at the end of the episode (it's marked on the calendar and she's the one to give him the VR set, indicating her permission).
Regarding the themes of sexuality, I think many viewers are missing the mark. It's not truly about sexuality. This is made apparent when his best friend reveals that he's been having sex with several other characters, including a polar bear, but it isn't the same when it's not with the main character. This is because they're very close friends and understand each other on a deep level. It's about intimacy, not sex. Their irl kiss just proves this point further. I don't think either of them are gay. His best friend simply wants a partner who truly knows him on every level, which he's been unable to find in the real world. Striking Vipers makes the main character available to him in a way that he isn't- and never could be- outside of VR. – JPost2 years ago