“Black Mirror” creator says timeliness of recent AI episode 'couldn’t have been more spooky'

Charlie Brooker is also surprised that "Joan Is Awful" ended up being so relevant to last year's Hollywood strikes.

When Black Mirror season 6 hit Netflix last summer, the sci-fi show's clever creator Charlie Brooker wasn't able to give many interviews about it due to the Hollywood writer's strike. But now Brooker is free to talk about episodes like "Joan Is Awful," the show's AI-focused episode that ended up being more relevant to pop culture than even he expected.

After all, AI and its use in the creation of movies and TV shows was a key topic in last year's Hollywood strikes, with both writers and actors seeking protections against possible replacement by technology.

Related: Dissecting the best Easter eggs from Black Mirror season 6

“Someone sent me a photo of someone on the picket line dressed as Joan in her cheerleader outfit,” Brooker says in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “Of all the episodes we’ve ever done, the timeliness of it absolutely couldn’t have been more spooky.”

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Nick Wall/Netflix Annie Murphy in "Black Mirror" episode "Joan Is Awful"
Nick Wall/Netflix Annie Murphy in "Black Mirror" episode "Joan Is Awful"

"Joan Is Awful" stars Annie Murphy as the titular Joan, who is surprised to come home one day and find that her own life is the subject of a popular new streaming TV show, where she is played by Salma Hayek.

Interestingly, the episode almost didn't end up happening at all. Brooker's original plan for season 6 was to call it Red Mirror and have every episode focused on horror rather than the show's usual tech-based satire. In the end, only the season finale, "Demon 79," carries the Red Mirror branding; though another season 6 episode, "Mazey Day," also has horror elements. Brooker had watched The Dropout on Hulu and imagined how surreal it would be for Elizabeth Holmes to watch a show about her own life.

Related: Josh Hartnett and Kate Mara break down their spacefaring Black Mirror episode

"I was part way into the season and then I had this idea and I thought: It’s not horror," Brooker says of the "Joan Is Awful" concept. "I mean, it’s existentially terrifying, but it’s not horror. It’s definitely a very Black Mirror idea. So I thought, 'F--- it, OK' [about the Red Mirror idea]. I felt like it had to be done now. I definitely couldn’t wait for another season to do it."

Brooker continues, "so when the ChatGPT conversation caught fire and when it became a huge issue because of the strikes, I was slightly wiping my brow with relief that we got the episode out before. The timing of it was surreal. Hopefully, it added to the conversation."

Related: In praise of 'USS Callister,' the Black Mirror space opera to end all space operas

A new season of Black Mirror is on the way later this year, and though Brooker is staying pretty mum about it for now, we do know that it includes a sequel to the beloved Star Trek–parodying season 4 episode "USS Callister."

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.