A couple days ago news broke that “Preacher,” the new AMC show based on the Vertigo Comics series and executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, would be getting its own after-show “Talking Preacher.” Unlike other series, though, this one would air only twice, once after the pilot and once after the finale.
This move to instantly explain entertainment – seen also in the rapid-fire way the Captain America: Civil War directors came out to elaborate on various storylines the same weekend the movie opened in theaters and many other recent examples and how the “Agents of SHIELD” producers talked about major events in the finale almost before it finished airing – is quickly becoming an essential part of our movie and TV media world. It’s not enough for entertainment to exist on its own but it needs to be discussed by the talent involved, with each detail, hanging storyline and minor detail covered in detail, including addressing any unanswered questions.
It shows a kind of lack of faith in the audience since it assumes that everyone needs every single detail explained as clearly as possible and that no one is capable of actually interpreting art, which is both sadly accurate and kind of condescending.
It is, though, almost an essential aspect of the world of shared universes, deep mythologies and other aspects of our current entertainment landscape. Take the Marvel Cinematic Universe, for example. There are so many things going on with the breadth of characters and situations that are available that these kind of explainer stories, where the writers and directors hit the press and talk about what it all meant, what it means for what comes next and more, are necessary. In part that’s because of how dense the universes are, where every bit of signage in the background of any shot could mean *something.* And in part it’s because each movie acts as the setup and de facto marketing for the next movie in line. So it’s not just the current movie being explained, it’s often something essential (to some degree) for the next.
But you can’t talk about this trend without also addressing spoilers. If talent is out there five minutes to 24 hours after discussing key plot points the odds of spoilers entering the conversation goes up exponentially. But I’m of the increasing suspicion that studios and networks are alright with that. While they may not love spoilers being discussed before a movie or TV show is released they are, I believe, at least tacitly alright with them popping up almost immediately afterward. How else do explain not just how they condone these after-show discussions but even put big character reveals in TV spots (warning: spoilers) that air the Monday after a movie opens?
That’s because, I believe, the only true way to avoid spoilers these days is to see a movie or TV show as soon as it’s released or broadcast. If you don’t want to spend the next day or week or whatever avoiding details about a story you’d prefer to be surprised by, you’d best watch it now, not three days later and certainly not whenever it comes out on home video. So studios and networks seem all too eager to have talent and advertising spill the beans because it might mean more people tune in live or visit the theater opening weekend.
In many respects, both aspects of this – the after-show and the explanatory press rounds – are an evolution of geek culture taking over the world. The former are a formalized version of the conversations we would have with each other after watching movies or TV shows. The latter are media-hosted versions of the questions that would get asked of talent at Comic-Con and other events, made more pervasive by the internet’s countless outlets and gaping maw always looking for fresh content. That last point in particular means this is only going to become more and more pervasive. Adjust your content consumption patterns accordingly.