Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’ is a sci-fi anthology series that tells a different story in every episode. Each story is distinct, creating its own world in a different timeline. Some are set in the near future, while others present different iterations of the past. Some stories have a much more contemporary touch and hit closer to home than expected. One such episode, ‘Joan is Awful,’ appears in the show’s sixth season.
It follows the story of a woman who discovers that a streaming service called Streamberry has created a TV show in her day-to-day life. Everything unravels around her as she tries to find a way to stop the show from making more episodes. Apart from ‘Joan is Awful,’ Streamberry offers several other TV shows, one of which is ‘Sea of Tranquility.’ If the name feels familiar and you want to find out how it connects all episodes of ‘Black Mirror,’ here’s what you need to know. SPOILERS AHEAD
Is Sea of Tranquility a Real TV Show?
‘Sea of Tranquility’ is a fictional TV series mentioned several times in ‘Black Mirror.’ Each episode offers a new detail about it. There is a novel titled ‘Sea of Tranquility,’ written by Katya Millay, published in 2012. However, it has no connection to ‘Black Mirror,’ which first referenced the fictional series in its first season, which premiered in 2011. The first episode of ‘Black Mirror,’ titled ‘The National Anthem,’ follows the story of Prime Minister Michael Callow, who is told to have sex with a pig on national television in return for the freedom of Princess Susannah, a beloved member of the royal family.
While exploring their options, the team comes up with the idea to create a fake video where special effects can be used to make it look like Callow did as asked by the kidnapper. They mention a man named Noel, who is considered an expert in the field and even won an Emmy for his work on the “HBO moon Western thing” called ‘Sea of Tranquility.’ This is the first reference to the fictional show, which is not mentioned again until the third season.
In the first episode of Season 3, titled ‘Nosedive,’ Bryce Dallas Howard plays the role of Lacie, who is on her way to a wedding which she hopes will increase her ratings and enhance her social status. Because she misses her flight, she has to hitch rides with other people. She comes across two women on their way to the ‘Sea of Tranquility comic con. Hoping to get a ride from them, Lacie quickly searches about the show.
It is described as a “Japanese sci-fi fantasy anime series.” The plot description reads: “Lt. Duster and his crew battle against the evil intergalactic empire putting their evil rules across the universe, destroying and enslaving everything in their path. Lt. Duster is a former omega pilot who defected from the cruel intergalactic empire.” This is the only time we get a proper description of the show and a peek into its popularity.
The next time we get a reference is in the fifth season. This time, the references are more blink-and-you’ll-miss sort. In Andrew Scott starrer, ‘Smithereens,’ there is a Twitter hashtag titled SeaOfTranquilityReboot. The reboot is also referenced in ‘Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too,’ the second episode of the season. This arc completes in ‘Joan is Awful’ when we finally see ‘Sea of Tranquility’ on the streaming service. The description reads: “HBO’s seminal sci-fi western returns for a climactic tenth series. Follow our intrepid crew as they manifest destiny far beyond the safety of the inner worlds.”
While this fits into the arc of the show being immensely popular and getting another season through a Twitter campaign by its fans, it doesn’t look like the Japanese anime mentioned in ‘Nosedive.’ This suggests that the show has received a live-action version, and ‘Mazey Day’ builds upon this theory by mentioning the death of an actor, Justin Camley, who was said to have starred in the series.
‘Sea of Tranquility’ continues to be a fun Easter egg that pops up every now and then and connects the otherwise worlds apart episodes. It doesn’t have any connection to the plot in any episode, so its repeated mentions can be chalked down to just a fun surprise the creators add for the audience. It is also possible that Charlie Brooker, the creator of ‘Black Mirror,’ might consider creating a story around the fictional show in the future, but for now, it remains one of the many details used to bring the worlds of ‘Black Mirror’ to life.
Interestingly, while ‘Sea of Tranquility’ was a made-up show when it was first mentioned in ‘Black Mirror’ in 2011, it will soon become a real show. In 2022, Emily St. John Mandel published a speculative fiction novel called ‘Sea of Tranquility,’ which is now being adapted into a TV show that will stream on HBO Max. Does this mean that ‘Black Mirror’ predicted the show, or did the fans manifest it into existence? In any case, you can add ‘Sea of Tranquility’ to the list of things predicted by ‘Black Mirror.’