If you’ve seen the trailers for the Barbie movie, you might have noticed that Mattel has signed off on being portrayed as antagonists, with Will Ferrell playing the company's raging CEO. In the recent fourth and final season of Barry, Warner Bros. appear, determined to make a movie about the hitman-slash-actor’s life story. And it seems there’s a mini-trend afoot of companies allowing themselves to be sent up in their own projects, since Charlie Brooker has also managed to get Netflix to play along with his nefarious plans in a forthcoming episode of the sixth season of Black Mirror, ‘Joan Is Awful’.
The episode revolves around the ordinary character of Joan (Annie Murphy), who becomes aware that her life is the subject of a streaming series in which she’s played by Salma Hayek, when she stumbles across it on Netflix-esque streaming platform, 'Streamberry'. You’d think Brooker would have faced some pushback from the streamer about it – but apparently, that wasn’t the case. "We just said, 'We’ve got this streaming platform called 'Streamberry' in this episode… can we make it look like Netflix?' Brooker tells Empire, as part of a major new interview in the world-exclusive Ahsoka issue. "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.” It also hasn’t escaped Brooker that the service that 'Streamberry' is based on is the exact place viewers will be seeing it. “That episode is quite meta and weird anyway,” he says. “It’s one thing me watching it in the edit, but the thought that people are going to be watching it on the Netflix platform itself ? That’s quite bonkers.”
For a protagonist presented with her worst aspects being played out for entertainment, Brooker’s mind immediately went to Murphy, most famously known for her performance as Alexis Rose in much-loved sitcom Schitt’s Creek. “Sometimes you write things and you have someone in mind," he explains. "Annie Murphy was quite quickly in my head as Joan because I’d watched Schitt’s Creek during the pandemic, like everyone else, and she’s so naturally funny and likeable.” And where did he watch Schitt’s Creek? Netflix, of course! Another strike for the meta-o-meter…
Read Empire’s exclusive Black Mirror feature – speaking to Charlie Brooker in a major new interview about the show's sixth season – in the upcoming July 2023 issue, on sale Thursday 8 June. Become an Empire member to access the digital edition in full, or order a print copy online now here. Black Mirror Season 6 is streaming on Netflix from 15 June.