Black Mirror is BACK! Joan is Awful Review and Ending Explained

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Black Mirror is BACK! Joan is Awful Review and Ending Explained

Last Updated on June 16, 2023 by Dexter Roona

Today we bring you our review of what we consider to be one of the best shows on Netflix. Black Mirror is Back and this is our Joan is Awful Review and Ending Explained article.

Joan is Awful Review – Black Mirror Season 6 Ep 1

Black Mirror’s sixth season opens with a thought-provoking episode titled “Joan is Awful,” which delves into the intrusive nature of streaming services and the erosion of personal privacy. Created by Charlie Brooker, this installment skillfully critiques Netflix’s insatiable demand for content while cleverly streaming on the very platform it criticizes. Brooker, instead of biting the hand that feeds, plants a stick of dynamite in it, challenging the audience to consider the balance between artistic critique and commercial success.

“Joan is Awful” embodies the quintessential Black Mirror experience, combining cynicism, caustic commentary, and a touch of charm. The episode presents a vintage Black Mirror setup: what if you stumbled upon a TV series on Netflix that depicted your own life? Joan, played brilliantly by Annie Murphy, undergoes this unnerving experience after a particularly challenging day. Forced to terminate an employee, attend an unproductive therapy session, and reconcile with her ex, Joan finds herself facing a dramatized version of her own life in a series titled “Joan is Awful.”

The genius of this episode lies in its attention to detail, incorporating Black Mirror Easter eggs and convincingly replicating Netflix’s branding, font, and user interface. As Joan watches in horror, she witnesses a disturbingly accurate portrayal of her day unfold on screen, with Salma Hayek Pinault playing her character. The show within a show goes further by featuring Cate Blanchett as an actress playing the role of Hayek Pinault’s Joan, creating a web of fictive realities.

Joan is Awful - Salma Hayek

Joan is Awful – Salma Hayek – Source The Telegraph

Directed by Ally Pankiw, known for their work on “Schitt’s Creek,” “Joan is Awful” bears similarities to Black Mirror’s controversial first episode, “The National Anthem.” Both episodes present near-future scenarios that feel disturbingly plausible, addressing viewers’ inevitable questions in a timely manner. Brooker cleverly explores the consequences of the streaming era and the fine line between personal privacy and the commercialization of individual lives.

The episode masterfully navigates potential technological concerns by introducing Streamberry’s quantum computer, capable of effortlessly dramatizing the lives of its subscribers. While the concept may seem outlandish, it aligns with real-world developments, as studios like Netflix explore artificial intelligence to create new shows. The creative sci-fi elements within “Joan is Awful” seamlessly blend with the narrative, driving the story forward while prompting critical reflection.

Annie Murphy shines as Joan, capturing the essence of a relatable protagonist caught in an unsettling predicament. The episode’s twist reveals that the Joan we meet is not the original but rather a layer of fiction portrayed by Murphy herself. This layering of shows within shows adds to the complexity, with Michael Cera eventually explaining the intricacies of the fictive realities.

Related: Black Mirror Funko Pop Checklist

Murphy’s ability to bring depth and authenticity to her performances is evident, not only in her comedic roles but also in her recent portrayals of herself. Her engaging presence on shows like Netflix’s “Murderville” and her role in “Russian Doll” Season 2 demonstrates her versatility. Salma Hayek Pinault also delivers a standout performance, playing a fictional version of herself removed from reality, which adds a layer of irony to the narrative.

While “Joan is Awful” captivates viewers with its well-crafted storytelling, it does fall short in fully exploring the premise’s potential. The episode could have delved deeper into the implications of living life as a televised spectacle before reaching the climactic ending. Nevertheless, the conclusion provides a satisfying and victorious moment for Joan, who ultimately confronts Streamberry’s invasive intrusion and saves.

Black Mirror is BACK! Joan is Awful Review and Ending Explained

Joan is Awful Review – Ending Explained

The ending of the episode “Joan is Awful” takes a surprising turn as the characters Joan (played by Annie Murphy) and Joan (played by Salma Hayek Pinault) join forces to destroy Streamberry’s computer system and server. Salma, angered by the use of her image in the show, visits Joan and together they devise a plan to take down Streamberry’s intrusive technology.

They infiltrate Streamberry CEO Mona Javadi’s office, with Salma distracting the receptionist while Joan sneaks in through the back. They make their way to the server room, where they discover the presence of a quantum computer called the “quamputer.” Mona reveals in an interview that this computer generates entire multiverses and creates personalized shows for Streamberry users, like the show “Joan is Awful.”

In the quamputer room, they encounter Beppe played by Michael Cera, who explains that Joan is not the original Joan but a version played by a digital likeness of Annie Murphy. Beppe reveals that there are different levels of fiction within the show, with Annie’s show being the fictive level 1. Salma has been coded to believe she is herself on this level of the show.

Annie, filled with anger, decides to destroy the computer using an axe. However, she hesitates when she considers the potential harm to the versions of themselves that believe they are real. Annie realizes that the events in the show have already happened, meaning the real Joan has already destroyed the computer. Despite her reservations, Annie proceeds to destroy the computer.

The episode concludes with the real Joan being arrested while Annie is questioned by the police. As the credits roll, we see Joan back in her therapist’s office, discussing her dating life and her new business. Joan, now on house arrest, walks to her coffee shop called “Joan’s Coffee” and encounters Annie, who also has an ankle tag. They engage in conversation, expressing how much they’ve missed each other and sharing laughter.

The ending suggests a sense of resolution for Joan, as she takes control of her life and finds a renewed sense of agency. It also highlights the connection and friendship between Joan and Annie, despite their different roles in the show. Overall, the ending leaves viewers with a bittersweet but hopeful note, emphasizing the power of personal growth and the ability to find joy in unexpected circumstances.


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