Black Mirror S6: Joan is Awful explained

Kayla Harrington
Still from Black Mirror Season 6 Episode 1, 'Joan Is Awful'

Here’s a full breakdown of what happens in Black Mirror Season 6 Episode 1, ‘Joan is Awful’, including its shocking twist.

The sixth chapter in the anthology series Black Mirror has finally dropped on Netflix today after almost four years off the air.

While there’s many twists, turns, and supernatural happenings in this particular season, one common theme amongst these five episodes is the feeling that anything could happen at any time for no reason at all.

The first episode of Season 6 follows a woman who realizes her life is being used for the plot of streaming series, but is everything as it seems? Is being the main character worth it? Read on to find out! But, before we explain, major spoiler warning for ‘Joan is Awful’!

Black Mirror Season 6: What happens in Joan is Awful?

The episode follows Joan, a manager at a media company who seems to live a pretty ordinary life. She has a boyfriend, Krish, has to deal with the unpleasantness of letting her co-workers go, and struggles with her lingering feelings for her ex-boyfriend, Mac.

After meeting up with Mac and sharing a kiss with him, Joan returns home to Krish where they eat his bland dinner and then cuddle up on the couch to watch something on Streamberry, this universe’s equivalent of Netflix.

While looking for something to watch, the couple stumbles upon a show titled Joan is Awful starring Salma Hayek, who is sporting Joan’s signature blonde streaks. As the couple, Joan’s assistant and his boyfriend, Mac, and the co-worker Joan fired all tune into the show, it becomes clear that the plot is a recreation of the events that happened during Joan’s day.

A close up of Annie Murphy in Black Mirror Season 6

They see her fire her co-worker, kiss Mac, and tell her therapist that she finds Krish’s cooking, and him as a person, extremely bland. Krish, understandably hurt, leaves Joan with a packed bag. And things only get worse when Joan is fired from her job due to Streamberry airing sensitive company information through their recreation of Joan’s life.

Joan visits a lawyer to try to sue Streamberry and Salma Hayek for libel, but her lawyer tells her that Streamberry has the right to use her life and likeness to make a profit due to her agreeing to their terms and service. Streamberry is sourcing information about Joan’s every day life through her phone, laptop, and other devices that are always listening to her conversations.

Her lawyer also explains that Joan can’t sue Salma Hayek as the actress isn’t really playing her — she licensed her image to Streamberry to use as they see fit. Basically, the service has a deep fake of Hayek that they’re using to torment Joan.

Joan tries to seek comfort in Mac, who refutes her as he doesn’t want to look bad on the show and to Salma Hayek. Seeing no way out, Joan resorts to eating a ton of burgers and drinks a bottle of laxative so she can poop on the aisle of a nearby wedding in order to get the attention of Salma Hayek as these events would be shown during the next episode of the series.

Annie Murphy as Joan wears a cheerleading uniform in Black Mirror

It works and Hayek visits her lawyer to find out how she can get her deep fake version taken down, but her lawyer informs her that the contract she signed is airtight and there’s nothing she can do to remove herself from the show.

From there, Hayek visits Joan and the two team up to take down Streamberry once and for all. After sneaking into Streamberry’s headquarters, the pair learn that the service is going to launch other ‘Blank is Awful’ shows tailored for their 800 million users. When asked why they went with the term ‘awful,’ the head of Streamberry explains that their users prefer negative connotations as it confirms their innermost fears — they just can’t look away.

Joan and Hayek break into the server room where they meet Beppe, a producer of the show that explains that this reality isn’t real: it’s all just a show. Joan is really TV star Annie Murphy who is playing the character of Joan. It’s all a show within a show within a show and, while there is a real Joan out there, Annie Murphy isn’t her.

Murphy ends up destroying the Streamberry server and launching everyone into the real world where we meet the real Joan, a coffee shop worker who was fed with her life being used for content. The show ends with Annie Murphy visiting real Joan’s coffee shop and the two have matching ankle monitors as punishment for their crimes against Streamberry.

The episode is a frightening look at what it means to be the main character for all to see. It’s something we see almost every day as Twitter picks a “main character of the week” and dog-piles them restlessly. Joan is just another victim to the constant content farm we all find ourselves in almost every day.

Black Mirror Season 6 is now available to view in full on Netflix. Check out our other coverage below:

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About The Author

Kayla is a TV and Movies Writer at Dexerto. She's huge fan of Marvel (especially if Wanda Maximoff is involved), shows that make you laugh then cry, and any cooking show found on the Food Network. Before Dexerto, she wrote for Mashable, BuzzFeed, and The Mary Sue. You can contact her at