Complete Your Media Consumption Experience With a ‘Post-Mortem’
How to enjoy your favorite film, TV show, or book long after you’ve finished it
“I wonder if I will remember this show in 50 years,” I thought to myself as I began the third episode of Mr. Robot that night.“Where will it rank then?”
A survey commissioned by LG Electronics found that most adults will watch an average of 3639 movies and 31,507 episodes of television in their lifetime. But where does all of that content go after we’ve finished it? Researchers from the University of Melbourne found that binge-watchers remembered less than those who watched one weekly episode 140 days after completing a series. Perhaps most importantly, they reported enjoyed it less.
In a race to consume, we forget how a film left us in awe, a television show kept us glued to the sofa, and a book peeled our eyes open for hours. Just as the creator worked tirelessly to make something for us to enjoy, we must put similar effort into consuming it. That process doesn’t end when the credits roll.
Scratch that conversational itch with your friends
Throughout my English and Film degree at university, my passion for film, in particular, snowballed. That quickly rubbed off on my housemates.
In the years since then, two of my old housemates and I still regularly carry out post-mortems. One of us will encourage the other two to watch a particular show or film so we can all discuss it at length. At the moment, it’s Mr. Robot. Previously, it was Netflix’s crime/sci-fi thriller Dark. Before that, it was Ready Player One (the book version). We analyze our favorite scenes, parts that confused us, characters we admired, and potential awards it might win.
By discussing a show, film, or book you loved with like-minded people, you’re making sure the experience doesn’t go in one ear and out of the other. Nowadays, opening the group chat once I’ve finished something is a near-automatic response. It feels like I’m logging it in my brain, ensuring I won’t forget a piece of content that ruled my world for a little while.
Explore hashtags, fan websites, and read stranger’s opinions
After I have a detailed discussion with my friends, I take to the internet. Even if an ending is relatively easy to understand, reading an explanation can help consolidate it in your head. Currently, after every Wandavision episode, I scroll through the hashtag to see if there were any easter eggs I missed. In amongst the memes, there’s nearly always something that carries the experience beyond the end credits.
This is perhaps best for films with ambiguous endings. When Inception finished, I immediately took to fan websites to see what the ending meant. Once I garnered lots of different perspectives, I came to my conclusion.
Reading stranger’s opinions takes you out of your bubble and can give you a new perspective on the story. You’re unlikely to know the exact way the creator intended you to understand their work, but some random Twitter user might open your eyes wider than you first thought possible.
See how your view lines up with a professional critic’s
Go on Rotten Tomatoes or IMDb, and you’ll find two scores. Users do one, professional reviewers the other. A lot of the time, these scores are acres apart. As an average consumer, you’re probably not looking for qualities a reviewer is. Critics loved Star Wars: The Last Jedi for its boldness, whereas fans mostly hounded it for ruining the franchise.
When reading a damning review of a book you adored, for example, note how defensive you get of it. That tells you it’s something you don’t want to forget. Compare your opinion to the critic’s. Are they overthinking it, or did you miss something? Go back and watch the film with this new insight and see if it changes your perspective.
Download the film or TV show’s music
In 2019, my Spotify Wrapped told me I was in the top 1% of Game of Thrones composer Ramin Djawadi’s listeners. As his beautiful strings adorned every hour I spent doing final year coursework, it came as no surprise to me. During that time, I created a playlist filled with songs from my favorite shows and films. I use it every single day. I’m using it as I write this article.
The best shows and films typically have the most memorable scores. Saving them can remind you of the power your favorite scene had over you. Vitally, it keeps the emotions you felt alive long after you’ve consumed them. In this sense, the show or film never dies.
You’re creating a shared interest between you and others
As there is so much media to consume, many themes and plots can feel similar. Hollywood tends to mirror itself with references, sequels, and remakes. It’s understandable if you quickly forget something you’ve consumed. With a post-mortem, however, you can act on the new information you’ve absorbed. This way, you’re much more likely to remember the book you’ve just read in a year.
When you dissect your favorite piece of media with friends or strangers, you’re creating a valuable shared interest. The content you want to talk about the most is the content that has affected you the deepest. Instead of burying a film, TV, show, book, or podcast in the grave, cut it open and see what made it tick. Ironically, don’t let it die.