‘Black Mirror’ Season 6 Episode 1 ‘Joan is Awful’ Ending Explained

Here is the ending explained to 'Joan is Awful' episode 1 of season 6 of Black Mirror.

Jacob Robinson What's on Netflix Avatar
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black mirror joan is awful episode ending explained

Picture: Netflix

For anyone confused about the ending to the first episode of season 6 of Black Mirror then allow us to try and help! We’ll also be covering the remaining episodes of Black Mirror season 6, but here is the ending explained to Joan is Awful.

Joan is Awful is the first episode of Black Mirror’s sixth season, directed by Ally Pankiw and written by Charlie Brooker.

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Here’s the basic premise of the episode:

“An average woman is stunned to discover a global streaming platform has launched a prestige TV drama adaptation of her life – in which she is portrayed by Hollywood A-lister Salma Hayek.”

Joan is Awful Ending Explained

Joan’s life is effectively ruined by the Streamberry. Thanks to the most intimate details of her life being shown to the world she loses her career, her fiance, and even loses her ex, Mac, who can’t perform in bed knowing that whenever he is with Joan will be broadcast to the world.

Legally, Joan can’t sue Streamberry after agreeing to the company’s T&Cs. She also can’t sue Salma Hayek, as the actress has licensed her likeness, to Streamberry, who use advanced CGI to create the series. Once Joan learns that it’s Salma Hayek’s likeness, she takes matters into her own hands and attempts to make Salma look as awful as possible.

Consuming lots of fast food, laxatives, and alcohol, Joan crashes a wedding dressed as a cheerleader and defecates everywhere. Joan’s attempt to grab Salma Hayek’s attention works as her likeness is seen reenacting the scene of Joan defecating in the church. Salma Hayek is also unable to sue Streamberry, so after firing her lawyer she seeks out Joan.

Joan Is Awful annie murphy netflix

Picture: Annie Murphy as Joan – Netflix

Together Joan and Salma decide to try and take down Streamberry by visiting the headquarters where the advanced supercomputer that creates the show is located.

Salma is able to smuggle Joan into the building, and together they are able to make it to the office of Streamberry CEO Mona Javadi, who is being interviewed. Eavesdropping on the interview, Joan and Salma learn the location of the Quamputer, which is the advanced Quantum Computer that is sophisticated enough to create the Joan is Awful series.

Black Mirror Annie Salma

Picture: Annie Murphy (left) and Salma Hayek (right) – Netflix

Joan and Salma find the Quamputer, with the latter apprehending the bodyguard. He reveals that the world that they live in is the first layer of the Quamputer’s simulation of Joan’s life and that the Joan we’ve watched the entire time has been based on the likeness of Canadian actress Annie Murphy. The bodyguard is self-aware and knows that he is based on the likeness of Michael Cera.

This reveal means there is technically an infinite number of Joan within the simulation, with each new series taking the likeness of another actress, and the cycle begins anew.

The layers of the Joan is Awful series/simulation are;

  • Real Joan – Watches her life portrayed by Annie Murphy.
  • Layer 1 Joan (Annie Murphy) – Watches her life portrayed by Salma Hayek
  • Layer 2 Joan (Salma Hayek) – Watches her life portrayed by Cate Blanchett
  • Layer 3 Joan (Cate Blanchett) – Watches her life portrayed by an unseen actress.

Joan, with an axe in hand, approaches the Quamputer. Mona walks in, and attempts to talk Joan down from destroying the Quamputer, revealing that if it is destroyed then the simulated lives of billions, and countless multiverses will be destroyed. Joan realizes that her actions are completely out of her hands, understanding that the reason why she is standing in front of the Quamputer in the first place is that the real world Annie is about to destroy it.

As Joan swings the axe, destroying the Quamputer, we see her appearance change to the real Joan, and in Salma Hayek’s place is actress Annie Murphy. Joan is arrested and taken away by the police, while Annie Murphy is giving a statement to the police.

Joan reveals to her therapist that she is moving on with her life. She is dating again and has learned that it is okay to be alone. Joan has changed careers and opened the coffee shop she always dreamed of running. However, for her actions at Streamberry, she is placed under house arrest, and given a GPS tag on her ankle.

At Joan’s Coffee Shop, we see her laughing and joking with a member of staff before Annie Muprhy walks in. The pair have become friends, and we learn that for her role in the destruction of the Streamberry Quamputer, Annie was also given a GPS Tag and placed under house arrest.

Is Joan still living in a simulation?

No. After destroying the Streamberry Quamputer, all of the simulated realities of Joan’s life were destroyed, including the simulation where Annie Murphy’s likeness portrayed Joan.

Are we sure?

Also, no. While in the first layer of the simulation, we learned during Mona’s interview that the Streamberry audience didn’t respond well to shows based on positivity, so they focused on negativity instead.

Joan conveniently was able to get back on her feet and achieved her dream of owning her own coffee shop. While life isn’t perfect for her, she was certainly given a happy ending.

If there is still a television show based on Joan’s life, it is likely called “Joan’s Coffee Shop,” switching from a dark comedy to a workplace melodrama.


What did you think of the Black Mirror episode Joan is Awful? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by

Jacob joined What's on Netflix in 2018 as a fulltime writer having worked in numerous other industries until that point. Jacob covers all things Netflix whether that's TV or movies but specializes in covering new anime and K-dramas. Resides in Norwich in the United Kingdom.

 Poster Rating: TV-MA
Language: English
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Cast: Daniel Lapaine, Hannah John-Kamen, Michaela Coel
Season Additions:
  • - Season 6 was added to Netflix on June 15th, 2023
  • - Season 5 was added to Netflix on June 5th, 2019
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