Fifteen Million Merits is the second episode of the first series of channel 4's television series Black Mirror. It was first broadcast on 11 December 2011.
A satire on entertainment shows and our insatiable thirst for distraction set in a sarcastic version of a future reality. In this world, everyone must cycle on exercise bikes in order to power their surroundings and generate currency called Merits. Everyday activities are constantly interrupted by advertisements that cannot be skipped or ignored without financial penalty. Obese people are considered to be second-class citizens, and either work as cleaners around the machines (where they receive verbal abuse) or are humiliated on game shows.
Bingham "Bing" Madsen (Daniel Kaluuya) has inherited 15,000,000 merits and has the luxury of skipping advertisements. In the toilet he overhears Abi (Jessica Brown Findlay) singing; he encourages her to enter into the X-Factor style game show Hot Shots, which offers a chance for people to get out of the slave-like world around them. Bing persuades her and, feeling there is nothing "real" worth buying, purchases the ticket for her. The judges (Rupert Everett, Julia Davis, Ashley Thomas) and the crowd enjoy her singing, but they state there is no room for an 'Above Average Singer' and instead give her the chance to become an adult actress on a pornographic TV station. After goading from the judges and the crowd, and drugged on a substance called "Cuppliance" (compliance in a cup), Abi reluctantly agrees and Bing is heartbroken.
Bing returns to his cell without Abi and any merits. When an advert showing Abi performing a sexual act appears on the screen, he is unable to skip it (as he doesn't have enough merits) and desperately tries to escape his cell, ramming the door until the glass breaks. He hides a shard of glass under his bed and starts to earn another 15,000,000 merits to enter the competition. He stops buying food and pedals for months until he has enough to buy another ticket. He stands in the Hot Shots waiting room every day without any expression until he's eventually called to compete.
On stage he interrupts his performance, draws the shard of glass and threatens to kill himself live on the show. He tearfully rants about how unfair the system is and expresses his anger for how the judges took away the only thing he found that felt real. The judges, instead of taking his words into consideration, are impressed by his 'performance' and offer him his own show, where he can rant about the system all he likes.
Bing accepts and is shown finishing one of his streams in his penthouse. He stands staring out over a view of a vast green forest stretching to the horizon. It is unclear whether this is real or just another screen, and it is up to the viewer to decide if all Bing has managed to do is find himself in a larger cell.