On June 5, Netflix debuted season 5 of Black Mirror, its terrifying, thought-provoking series, sharing three twisted new episodes. Immediately, viewers were drawn to episode 3 of the mini-season after it was revealed that it would star singer and actress Miley Cyrus as a disgruntled pop star. The episode, titled "Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too," examines the relationship between fan (in this case a lonely teenage girl named Rachel, played by Angourie Rice) and superstar (Ashley O, played by Cyrus), as well as fame and mental health. But is there a secret message hiding in the show, relating to real-life pop star Ariana Grande?
Without giving away the episode's twists, here's the gist: Rachel is 15, friendless, and feeling lost. To fill a void in her life left by the death of her mother, the emotional absence of her father, and the negativity radiating off of her angsty older sister Jack (Madison Davenport), Rachel confides in her new AI companion, Ashley Too, a robotic-Furby-meets-millennial-Alexa, created and sold by her pop idol Ashley O. Ashley Too's personality reflects the public persona of Ashley O: sweet, positive, and overly cheerful. Before the show's first big twist, we see Rachel hanging out with the doll for hours in her room, which is littered with Ashley O memorabilia.
But there is one image taped to her wall that doesn't depict Cyrus in her icy pink wig and silver outfit — in fact, it looks eerily like Ariana Grande, especially when you notice the perky ponytail.
It's totally possible that Rachel listens to more than one famous singer (although in the series she solely stans Ashley O), but this is the only other person we see taped up on her side of the bedroom. We also know that the show takes place in our present world (unlike other episodes in the series) because at one point Jack lists her favorite artists, which she inherited from her late mother, and they include The Pixies and Sonic Youth. Plus, at one point, someone performs a Nine Inch Nails cover.
So, what's she doing there? Is this a commentary on Grande as an "Ashley O"-type? Are there other pop stars hiding out on the walls fans just haven't spotted yet? Netflix did not respond to Refinery29's request for confirmation or comment on whether or not that is a cut-out of the "thank u, next" singer, but that hasn't stopped Twitter from sharing their observations.
During promo for the episode, Cyrus made it clear that Ashley O's complicated relationship with fame is not reflective of her own thanks to a solid family support system throughout her career, but that doesn't mean the she and Grande's career arcs didn't serve as inspiration for the episode. Grande's 2016 album Dangerous Woman doesn't not sound like a track of Ashley O bops.
Now we just have to wait for Grande to check out the episode and share her thoughts. Especially considering her recent tomato allergy scare....