The sixth season of Netflix’s ‘Black Mirror’ brings a collection of stories that ponder the nature of reality by presenting absurd tales. Its first episode, ‘Joan is Awful,’ pokes at the curtain, confronting the audience with how content is created and consumed. With a layered story that goes meta on several levels, the episode follows Joan, who discovers that her life has been turned into a TV show on a popular streaming platform.
With her life falling apart and becoming a spectacle for the entire world to see, Joan tries to get the streaming service Streamberry to stop making more episodes of the show. She finds herself in a legal bind and has to resort to desperate measures. The ending poses many more questions for the viewers, but it also makes one wonder about the streaming service they use. Streamberry looks awfully familiar to Netflix. What’s the connection between them? Let’s find out.
Is Streamberry Based on Netflix?
When ‘Black Mirror’ writer-creator Charlie Brooker thought about making ‘Joan is Awful’ and presenting Streamberry, his first thought was to make it look like Netflix. In an interview with Empire, Brooker revealed how that conversation with Netflix went. He said: ”We just said, ‘We’ve got this streaming platform called ‘Streamberry’ in this episode… can we make it look like Netflix?’.” Because the episode goes quite meta, he had his mind set on making Streamberry look like Netflix.
He intended to go through with it, even if the real-life streaming service refused to sign on their likeness for the episode. However, he was shocked when they agreed to it with surprising ease. “They went away and came back quite quickly — weirdly quickly — and said, ‘Yeah, okay.’ There wasn’t any resistance to it, that I could tell. Which is a bit disappointing because it would be good to be able to say, ‘I just did it anyway because I’m an anarchist!’ But no,” he added.
With Netflix on board, the show’s creators went all in to make Streamberry look like Netflix as much as possible. They got the “tudum” sound and replaced “N” with “S,” though the design remained the same. They kept the same visuals for the home screen, with the show recommendations and their descriptions in line with how we see it on Netflix. This was also an excellent opportunity to throw some Easter eggs from previous seasons.
The first show to pop up on the screen is ‘Sea of Tranquility,’ which is one of the running jokes in the show. It has been mentioned several times in different episodes, with an entire arc of viewers demanding its reboot through hashtags on Twitter, the announcement of the said reboot, and finally, the show released on the streaming platform in ‘Joan is Awful.’ Other shows and movies on the screen refer to the previous or upcoming episodes of ‘Black Mirror.’ ‘Loch Henry: The Truth Will Out’ refers to the second episode in Season 6, right after ‘Joan is Awful.’ Other episodes referenced similarly are ‘Bandersnatch,’ ‘San Junipero,’ ‘The National Anthem,’ ‘USS Callister,’ and ‘Fifteen Million Merits.’
The episode also makes a passing comment on the plethora of true-crime content, the scale of which only seems to be getting bigger every year. When Joan asks if they should watch ‘Loch Henry,’ Krish says he can’t do another true crime show, referring to ‘Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes.’ This thread is continued in the second episode, ‘Loch Henry,’ where a production company demands filmmakers Davis and Pia to focus on a killer who is better known because it will increase their chances of getting the project picked up by a streaming service.
Because Streamberry is designed specifically around Netflix, you might wonder if Mona Javadi, Streamberry’s CEO, is based on Netflix’s CEO. While we don’t know if Netflix plans to use a quamputer to create specifically tailored content, we can say that Javadi is an original character. In real-life, Netflix has co-CEOs, Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters. Perhaps it would have been too on the nose to make Streamberry’s CEO in their image.