This past Wednesday night I excitedly watched the season premiere of what I consider to be the best new show of last year, “Mr. Robot.” It was excellent; just as twisty and turn-y and dark as the first season with its fair share of new, very intriguing developments. But just as it ended, just as I was preparing to individually dive deep into what I had just seen and start to form my own opinions on how the season would unfold, I was interrupted by “Hacking Robot,” the new “Mr. Robot” after show.
The after show, a program immediately following a new episode of a series where members of the cast and creative team convene to basically discuss what viewers just saw, seems to be the latest development in a new TV viewing culture where people crave instant gratification. It falls right in line with binge-watching and the post-mortem articles and think pieces that populate many a pop culture site in a new episode’s aftermath.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I’ve been known to read my fair share of articles about my favorite shows, but I like to read them only when I have a reasonable amount of distance from the episode I just viewed. Let’s say, a day or two. To me, that’s enough time to process, enough time to think for myself before someone else (be it a writer or a showrunner) tells me what’s actually going on. This is why I’m not the biggest fan of aftershows.
I get their purpose in some regards (it’s always fun to get a behind-the-scenes look) but to me a show like “Mr. Robot,” a show that thrives on darkness and mystery, can potentially lose some of its edge, some of its intrigue, when viewers immediately get to see what’s behind the curtain. For starters, immediately seeing the actors out of character, laughing and joking with one another and a jovial host, takes a little away from the heaviness of what I just saw them do in-character. It’s a large part of why I didn’t watch “After the Black,” the “Orphan Black” aftershow that began following the series’ most recent season. “Orphan Black” makes it so easy to forget that Tatiana Maslany is playing so many different characters that to then see her, as herself, talking about all of those characters would be, at least to me, a little jarring and mildly disappointing.
It also brings in the fandom element, something else that always makes me a little uncomfortable. I consider myself a big fan of many things, but do I consider myself a part of any particular fandoms? No. There’s a certain stigma attached to the idea of a fandom, a group of people that are just a little too invested in a piece of entertainment. They can get to be a bit excessive and these after shows thrive on that excessiveness. They want people to come up with things like “ship” names and develop attachments to outlandish theories that may not even exist within the true reality of the show. If they didn’t then what would be the point of an after show that delves into those things at all? I’m all about fan involvement, but I still like there to be a line between myself and the people that create the shows and entertainment that I love.
At the end of the day, I’m not too worried about “Hacking Robot” changing my thoughts on “Mr. Robot,” especially because it’s only airing after the premiere and the season finale. I know it’s for a certain group of fans, and they’ll definitely eat it up. I just hope that after shows don’t become the norm. I like my TV like I like my “Mr. Robot” main character Elliot Alderson: dark, detached and deeply mysterious.
What do you think? Love a good after show? Wish they’d just go away? Wish I’d just go away? Nah, man. Just like the titular Mr. Robot, I’m here forever. Or at least until Elliot gets his act together. Now go back to analyzing last Thursday’s Emmy nominations, but of course remember…