Joan Is Awful: The deep meaning behind the song

HITC explains Black Mirror Season 6 Episode 1 and the significance of Joan Is Awful.

In the vein of iconic TV shows such as The Twilight Zone and Tales Of The Unexpected, it’s safe to say that audiences can’t get enough of Black Mirror‘s dystopian depictions of society in trouble.

Charlie Brooker created the original series, which premiered on Channel 4 back in 2011. The anthology explores technology’s evolution and its impact on humankind. The fans are excited to see it return for the sixth season on Netflix. It will debut on Thursday, 15 June 2023.

The first installment, Joan Is Awful is an abrupt introduction that will certainly confuse a few minds. With that in mind, let’s get Black Mirror Season 6 Episode 1 explained with the Joan Is Awful meaning explored.

Black Mirror season 6 episode 1 explained

The episode’s protagonist is Joan, a tech CEO who wakes one morning, as usual, and gets in her car while belting out music during the drive to work. She has to dismiss Sandy, an employee whose task is to come up with a solution that reduces emissions and saves the environment.

Joan, after a long day of work, agrees to see her ex Mac who texted her. Beforehand, she visits her therapist and admits that her current partner Krish is bland and she no longer feels like she’s in control of her life, stressing that she lacks agency. Upon meeting Mac, she emphasizes that she’s going to marry Krish, but the pair share a kiss before she leaves.

When she arrives home with Krish, they open up the streaming app Streamberry. They are greeted by a new drama series called Joan Is Awful starring Salma Haiek. Salma looks strikingly similar to the Joan Krish is watching. In fact, the series is evidently a dramatization of the day we’ve just witnessed Joan herself have, which alerts Krish to the events which transpired with her ex.

It’s not just those two watching at home though, but also Sandy, Joan’s colleagues, her parents, etc.

Confused, Joan storms Streamberry’s headquarters for answers from the streaming service CEO Mona Javadi. Instead, she speaks with a representative who informs her that she allowed usage of her personal data when she signed the streamer’s terms and conditions, which she didn’t read; nevertheless, she signed. Joan’s phone has been picking up on her activity, with her legal permission, and this is how the show has managed to be such an efficient and accurate depiction of her life.

When Joan suggests suing Salma Hayek, the representative explains that it’s not actually Salma acting; the actress licensed her image to Streamberry and the Salma that Joan sees in Joan Is Awesome is actually CGI.

Realizing that Salma wouldn’t be comfortable if her likeness was used to portray an extremely disturbing event, Joan decides to eat lots of junk food and defecate in a church. Salma complains when she sees an episode that depicts such a scene. She then learns that Streamberry controls her image, and so can’t stop it.

Black Mirror Joan is awful means continue

Joan and Salma get together and agree that they need to work as a team if they want to stop the streamer.

What is the plan? They infiltrate the Streamberry building to gain access to Mona’s office. They discover that the streaming service is releasing CG created content produced by a quamputer. A quamputer has the ability to create multiple universes, in which the shows are made in a short amount of time.

Joan was merely selected as a test subject and wasn’t targeted for any other reason than she was ordinary, the perfect guinea pig to see what the quamputer is capable of. Thanks to the success of Joan Is Awful, Streamberry plans to roll out an ‘…Is Awful’ series for every subscriber, tailoring the content specifically to them. When asked about the ‘Awful’ of the title, Mona explains that audiences respond better to negative content, streaming it more than positive content.

An assistant played by Michael Cera is watching over the quamputer when Joan and Salma break into the room it’s stored, demanding further explanation. The assistant explains that the Joan in front of him, the one we’ve been following, isn’t actually the real Joan, who he refers to as ‘Source Joan’. She’s one of many Joan’s that exists across the multiverses. The Joan we’ve been following is a Joan played by a digital likeness of Annie Murphy, just like the Joan played by the digital likeness of Salma in Streamberry’s Joan Is Awful.

For example, Source Joan will see Annie in the Joan role when she’s watching Joan Is Awful, whereas Joan played by Salma’s likeness will see Cate Blanchett playing Joan, and so on.

The assistant explains that the ‘level’ they exist in now is the one in which Annie is coded to play Joan and Salma is coded to play herself—they don’t exist in reality and if they destroy the quamputer they and all of the fictional universes it has created will perish.

Source Joan had already taken the initiative to destroy her quamputer.

We’re then presented with Source Joan, seeing her for the first time. She’s being arrested with Annie, who was basically played by Salma’s likeness in the events we, the audience, just witnessed.

Black Mirror Season 6 Episode 1 Ending

On a positive note, Annie and Source Joan are friends, despite their ankle bands, which show that they’re under house arrest. Nevertheless, Joan finally feels like she’s taken back control of her life.

This episode was a great satire on the idea that technology is taking over our privacy. It also portrayed the concern of not being able to control how others see us in the future, like we do today with social media.

With the sequence showing Joan, Krish, and her colleagues watching Joan Is Awful, there’s some interesting commentary on the way we process our lives through the lens of the content we consume too.

This episode also serves to serve as a reminder: always read and understand the terms and condition!

Black Mirror 6 season is exclusively available on Netflix.

Other Topics


Latest News

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here