'Like a Black Mirror episode': Netflix fans appalled by new 'torture' game show Flinch

Netflix has announced its first original game show - but fans are far from impressed.

Some are downright disturbed by the concept of Flinch, in which people receive electric shocks or are dunked into cold water if they fail.

Filmed on a farm in Northern Ireland, contestants must try not to jump or flinch when loud air horns are blasted into their ears or paintballs are shot at them.

A trailer for the UK programme shows people sitting in a makeshift barn holding out two rods inside circles of metal, while in front of them a small boy winds up a giant jack-in-the-box. Those who jump when a toy clown pops up are shocked when the rods make contact with the metal, similar to a game of Operation.

Another challenge requires contestants to place their heads in a wire cage with a piece of cheese in front of their face. A rat is then released into the cage, and if the contestants move, mouse traps snap on their fingers. It's a torment eerily similar to that suffered by Nineteen Eighty-Four protagonist Winston Smith.

Social media reaction to the show has been overwhelmingly negative, with many people calling Flinch a form of torture disguised as entertainment.

"I think that's called torture," one Twitter user said. When Netflix replied that contestants signed up to be on the show, the user amended it to "consensual torture".

"Hope you also got waterboarding on the show," another commented.

"Oh boy, the 'Milgram Experiment' game show!" one Twitter user said, a reference to an infamous 1960s social psychology experiment in which participants were told to administer electric shocks to another person, escalating in intensity until the victim would have been fatally electrocuted - except the shocks weren't actually real, unlike those in Flinch.

Many likened the show to Netflix's own science-fiction series Black Mirror, which explores topics like reality TV and torture-as-entertainment in a dystopian technology-driven world.

"Is this show inside of a Black Mirror episode?" one Twitter user asked, while another said Netflix was "taking Black Mirror too literally".

Others called Flinch an "overpriced YouTube stunt" and said they "couldn't tell if this is a joke".

"Please tell me this is not the direction Netflix is going in," one Twitter user wrote. "You have so much more quality at your disposal. Must you really turn to the cheapest form of entertainment?"

Many Netflix watchers were unhappy at the streaming giant's decision to create Flinch while fan favourite TV shows such as Santa Clarita Diet and One Day at a Time have been cancelled.

"Every day we stray further and further from God's light," one philosophical Twitter user remarked.