Joan Is Awful Ending Explained: Black Mirror Goes Meta On Netflix

Joan Is Awful Ending Explained: Black Mirror Goes Meta On Netflix

Black Mirror season 6 kicks off with "Joan is Awful", one of the most meta stories Netflix has produced so far – and here's what it truly means.

Joan Is Awful Ending Explained: Black Mirror Goes Meta On Netflix

Black Mirror season 6 starts strong with the episode “Joan Is Awful”, one of the most meta stories Netflix has produced so far. After a long wait, Black Mirror is back with season 6 on Netflix, its home since season 3. Black Mirror has become known for its exploration of various genres and themes linked to technological advancements, showing the dangers of going too far with these. Through this, Black Mirror also explores social issues, fears, and presents scenarios in near or far futures that often serve as cautionary tales – and following these lines is “Joan is Awful”.

“Joan is Awful” introduces Joan Tait (Annie Murphy), a tech CEO living with her fiancé, Krish, and who feels like her life isn’t moving forward. One night, Joan and Krish come across a new TV show on the streaming service Streamberry called Joan is Awful, starring Salma Hayek. As the title says, the series is about Joan and her life, showing everything she did that day but with various exaggerated moments for dramatic purposes. “Joan is Awful” evolves into a meta-commentary on streaming services, media depictions of real people and events, and the impact of CGI and AI on content creation, and here’s the real meaning behind its layered ending.

What Happens In Joan Is Awful’s Ending

What Happens In Joan Is Awful’s Ending

Tired of her life being shown in a TV series that she never consciously agreed to, Joan took some extreme measures to ensure that Streamberry and/or Salma Hayek would stop producing and distributing the show. Joan binge-ate burgers and drank a bottle of laxatives before dressing up as a cheerleader (with a red penis drawn on her forehead), crashing a wedding at a church, and defecating in front of everyone. This caught the attention of Salma Hayek, who didn’t want to be associated with Joan after what she did, but there was no way out for her due to her contract.

Salma Hayek then went to Joan’s house to find a solution to their mutual problem, and together they concluded that the only way to stop Streamberry and Joan is Awful was by destroying the streamer’s server. Hayek used her celebrity status to enter Streamberry’s HQ and helped Joan sneak in, and together, they made it to the office of CEO Mona Javadi. There, they learned that the core of the server, which Javadi called a “quamputer”, was at the end of the corridor in her office. Hayek and Joan broke into the quamputer room and met the assistant looking after it, who was played by Michael Cera. The assistant dropped some shocking truths on Joan and Hayek, which only made Joan more determined to destroy the quamputer.

As Joan prepared to destroy the quamputer, Mona came in with her security guards and tried to convince Joan not to do it, explaining she would be destroying a multiverse with billions of digital souls. Joan, realizing the truth about her existence and that she wasn’t in control of her actions, found out she couldn’t stop herself because the real Joan was about to destroy the server, so she proceeded to axe the quamputer. After the destruction of the server, the real Joan and Annie Murphy were arrested, with Black Mirror's “Joan is Awful” making a minor time-jump during the end credits to show that Joan is now rebuilding her life while on house arrest, and she’s friends with Annie Murphy, who is also on house arrest.

Why Streamberry Made The Series Joan Is Awful

Why Streamberry Made The Series Joan Is Awful

The biggest question throughout “Joan is Awful” is why Streamberry made the title series and how it was able to do it, as each episode covered the day it was released on. As it turns out, there were various reasons why and how Streamberry was able to make Joan is Awful, which are what make this Black Mirror episode one of Netflix’s most meta stories. Joan’s lawyer explained to her and the audience that she actually gave Streamberry permission to use her life and all personal data when she agreed to the platform’s Terms and Conditions when she signed up.

In order to bring Joan is Awful to life, Streamberry relied on algorithms and the cameras and microphones on computers, phones, etc. in order to get more information on Joan and her daily life. If that wasn’t disturbing enough, the reason why episodes were produced and released so fast was due to Streamberry’s use of AI and CGI, which went as far as not having the real Salma Hayek being filmed at all. Instead, Salma Hayek as Joan (and every other character in the series) was CGI, and Hayek had consented to this when she signed her contract with the platform.

In addition to that, Mona explained to a journalist that Streamberry’s purpose was to create a show like Joan is Awful for every one of their subscribers in order to bring relatable content, and that they used “awful” as viewers responded better to negative content. As for why they specifically used Joan first, Mona said it was because she was boring and a nobody, so she used her to test their concept and technology. Black Mirror’s “Joan is Awful” fires shots at something as simple as people never taking the team to read the Terms and Conditions and blindly agreeing to them but also at more complex issues like how far technology and greed can go. Streamberry was not only making a profit out of using the image and life of others and twisting events but also out of their fears, insecurities, and most vulnerable moments, not caring about how much they affected the many people they were taking advantage of.

Who Is The Original Joan (& What Happens To Her In The Ending)

Who Is The Original Joan

Black Mirror is no stranger to plot twists, and the biggest one in “Joan is Awful” is that the Joan the audience had been following through the entire episode wasn’t the real one. In the quamputer room, Joan saw herself on the screen, with the assistant explaining to her that she wasn’t the real Joan, and the real one was “Source Joan”. The Joan that had been leading the episode was a fictionalized version of Source Joan played by Annie Murphy, and the real Salma Hayek agreed to play herself in that level of fiction. Essentially, Streamberry had created a multiverse of Joans.

Following the above-explained plan and method, the real Streamberry had been producing a TV show titled Joan is Awful based on Source Joan’s real life, and just like it did to Joan/Annie, the show ruined her life. With the help of the real Annie Murphy (who in the first level of fiction was Salma Hayek), Source Joan got to the quamputer and destroyed it, leading to her arrest and that of Annie Murphy, but they put an end to the madness that was Joan is Awful and the plans behind it.

“Joan is Awful” ends with Source Joan telling her therapist she’s dating again and that she has a less corporate job now that she truly enjoys, revealing that she finally opened her own coffee shop (Joan/Annie mentioned at the beginning of the episode that it was her dream). Joan was seen happy working at her coffee shop, with Annie Murphy visiting her as they had become friends.

What Happened To All The Other Joans In Joan Is Awful?

What Happened To All The Other Joans In Joan Is Awful?

Mona explained that Streamberry’s AI and CGI technology allows them to produce content in no time and based on pretty much anything, creating a multiverse with a bunch of variants. This was better exemplified by the reveal of Source Joan, as there was her, Joan/Annie, Joan/Salma, and Joan/Cate Blanchett, with multiple unknown Joans after Blanchett’s level. The destruction of the quamputer led to the destruction of all of Source Joan’s variants, so Mona wasn’t lying when she said she would be killing billions of digital souls (though that raises the questions on how real these are and if they are as valuable as a real, human life). By the end of “Joan is Awful”, only one Joan was left, and it was Source Joan.

The Real Meaning Of Joan Is Awful’s Ending

The Real Meaning Of Joan Is Awful’s Ending

Black Mirror’s “Joan is Awful” addresses various modern themes and concerns based on content creation, how far technology has gone in creative fields, how the media distorts information and sells it as facts, and how big corporations don’t care about the pain they cause as long as they can make a profit. Streamberry’s Joan is Awful presents real-life events but with big tone changes and more that make Joan seem, well, truly awful, and while she knows that’s not how things really happened, viewers take them as facts. Even people who were there, like Sandy, immediately buy into the idea of awful, rude Joan even though she knows well that Joan wasn’t rude to her when she fired her.

“Joan is Awful” also makes fun of how almost no one takes the time to read the Terms and Conditions, but through this, it also shows how companies take advantage of their customers. Streamberry took this way too far with their AI and CGI technology, through which they left real people like Source Joan with zero agency, but they didn’t care because the show was a hit. Black Mirror also addresses how invasive algorithms, cameras, and microphones in various devices truly are, showing that, in these modern times, privacy has become a privilege and almost no one can have it anymore.

Like many other Black Mirror episodes, “Joan is Awful” is a cautionary tale of how far society and technology have gone and how far they can still go, as well as how desensitized society has become in recent years. In the end, Source Joan got a happy ending, but she had to go through hell in order to get there.

 

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