Black Mirror season 6 has arrived on Netflix after a long break of four years since the last series. The hiatus was partly due to the pandemic. In 2020, the creator, Brooker, mentioned that he didn’t think people would be interested in stories about societies falling apart during that time.
The first episode of the new season is called “Joan Is Awful” and it’s a mind-boggling installment. The story revolves around Joan, who discovers that a popular streaming platform is airing a fictionalized version of her life starring Salma Hayek. The show becomes a huge success and greatly impacts Joan’s life. Let’s dive into Black Mirror season 6 episode 1, where we’ll explore the meaning behind “Joan Is Awful.”
The episode begins with Joan (played by Murphy) sitting down to watch a streaming service called Streamberry, only to find out that there’s a dramatized portrayal of her life available. Naturally, she becomes furious and wonders what is happening. As the story unfolds, we’ll try to make sense of it.
Joan breaks into a computer room and encounters a digital version of Michael Cera, who explains the concept of the “Joan Is Awful” multiverse, which is quite complex. Murphy-as-Joan is not the real Joan; she is a fictional character created based on the actor Annie Murphy. Hayek-as-Joan is a second-level fictional character, and Cate Blanchett (who makes a brief appearance) is a third-level fictional character. The show doesn’t go beyond this level, although it’s possible that it could continue infinitely.
Murphy-as-Joan destroys the computer with an axe, but Mona tries to stop her, pointing out that billions of people who believe they are real will be killed. However, Joan realizes that her presence with the axe means that the original Joan has already done this. Fate has already determined the outcome.
After the chaos, we return to the source reality and see Joan-as-Joan and Murphy-as-Murphy. The program has crashed but restored the natural order. In the end, we see the real Joan seeking therapy, working at a coffee shop, and presumably becoming a better person. She remains friends with the real-life Murphy, and both of them have ankle tags as a result of their actions against Streamberry. Joan says, “I finally feel like the main character in my own life now.”
This episode raises thought-provoking ideas and reminds us of the importance of reading terms and conditions. Although not perfect, it is definitely a good episode with plenty to ponder.