Black Mirror season 6 will take humorous potshots at Netflix and its streaming rivals

Zazie Beetz's character sits in front of a laptop in Black Mirror season 6
Black Mirror season 6's first episode isn't shy about mocking the world's biggest streamers. (Image credit: Netflix)

Black Mirror season 6's episode titles have been revealed – and, in the most meta way possible, one of them will directly poke fun at Netflix and its streaming rivals.

As reported by Entertainment Weekly (EW), and later shown in a YouTube Short video, which you can view below, Black Mirror's long-awaited new season will consist of five standalone episodes. 

Understandably, fans have been left disappointed by the overall length of the forthcoming season. After all, many have been eagerly anticipating the next installment of one of the best Netflix shows ever made for years now. But Black Mirror season 6 hopes to make it up to you by perfectly skewering the very platform it'll exclusively launch on.

How so? Season 6's first episode, titled Joan is Awful is a full-on satirization of Netflix and the wider streaming industry.

Okay, so what's it about? Per EW, Joan is Awful tells the tale of "an average woman who 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, then, sounds like a Netflix reality TV show crossed with The Truman Show, the 1998 satirical reality TV-based movie starring Jim Carrey. Thematically, it seems like it'll train a lens on the idea of celebrityism, and individuals who seek (or don't seek, in this case) their 15 minutes of fame.

More than that, though, the forthcoming release of Joan is Awful is particularly well timed amid the writers strike that's currently dominating the entertainment news cycle. 

The industrial action, which has shut down multiple US and UK productions in the last two weeks, is taking place because Writers Guild of America (WGA) employees aren't happy with how much they're paid by the world's best streaming services, or with the prospect of artificial intelligence (AI) as a potentially cheaper labor source that could be used by Netflix and company to replace them in the writers' room. You can read more details on the situation in our Stranger Things, Daredevil, and every other show and film affected by the writers strike piece.

What's this got to do with Black Mirror season 6 and, in particular, Joan is Awful? Well, Black Mirror is a sci-fi anthology series whose overarching message is centered on the perils of technological advances, such as AI, and its impact on society. As for Joan is Awful, its positioning as a reality TV-based episode is perfectly timed. That's because Netflix and its streaming competitors could produce more reality TV shows – unscripted projects that don't need writers – to fill the content void if the writers' strike runs for many more months.

In short: Joan is Awful won't just be a satirical take on the content that streaming giants create. It could also be a perfect thematic summation of the industry, and the direction it's going in, as a whole. If that isn't dystopian, I don't know what is.

Taking a deeper dive into the world around us

A character looks at her phone in Black Mirror season 6 episode 'Joan is Awful'

Joan is Awful isn't the only Black Mirror season 6 episode set to debut on Netflix in June 2923 (Image credit: Netflix)

As I mentioned earlier, Joan is Awful isn't the only Black Mirror season 6 episode that was revealed yesterday (May 11). The titles, plot synopses, and cast of the forthcoming season's four other entries were also unveiled by EW and Netflix. Read on to find out more about each one:

  • Joan is Awful – Tells the tale of a normal woman who discovers a global streaming platform has launched a prestige TV drama adaptation of her life, in which she's portrayed by Hollywood A-lister Salma Hayek. Joan is Awful also stars Annie Murphy, Michael Cera, Rob Delaney, Ben Barnes, and Himesh Patel. Directed by Ally Pankiw.
  • Loch Henry – A young couple travel to a quiet town in Scotland to work on a nature documentary, but soon find themselves drawn to a juicy local story involving shocking events from yesteryear. Samuel Blenkin, Myha'la Herrold, Daniel Portman, John Hannah, and Monica Dolan are among its roster. Sam Miller is on directing duties.
  • Beyond the Sea – Taking place in an alternate 1969, two men on a dangerous mission wrestle with the consequences of an unimaginable tragedy. Directed by John Crowley, Beyond the Sea has a cast comprising Aaron Paul, Josh Hartnett, Kate Mara, Auden Thornton, and Rory Culkin.
  • Mazey Day – Helmed by Uta Briesewitz, a troubled starlet is dogged by the unrelenting paparazzi as she tries to deal with the fallout of a hit-and-run incident. Zazie Beetz, Clara Rugaard, and Danny Ramirez are its main stars.
  • Demon 79 –Set in the north of England in the late 1970s, this Toby Haynes-directed episode follows a shy sales assistant who's forced to commit terrible acts to prevent disaster. Anjana Vasan, Paapa Essiedu, Katherine Rose Morley, and David Shields feature. Additionally, this is the only season 6 episode not written by creator Charlie Brooker on his own. Ms. Marvel head writer Bisha K. Ali is on co-writing duties.

For more Black Mirror and Netflix-based coverage, read our trailer breakdown of Black Mirror season 6's first teaser. Additionally, read up on how to sign up to Netflix, or check the best Netflix movies around.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.