“What is an Aftershow?” by S.M. O’Connor

An aftershow (also spelt after-show) is a television show (or web series show) with a talk show format that is an ancillary series to another show, typically a drama, which the network plays after episodes of the main show, not unlike the special features a movie studio provides on a DVD or Blu-ray that are meant to be seen after a movie.  [For the most part, there is an aftershow episode that is a companion to each episode of the main show.  However, there have been at least two cases where the aftershow had only two episodes per season that were meant to be seen after the season premiere and season finale.[1]]  It is made for the benefit of hardcore fans,[2] not casual viewers.  A host or hostess interviews the showrunners (executive producers in charge of bringing a series to the screen), the stars and/or guest stars, other people involved in the production, and possibly celebrities who are fans of the show.

The Canadian pay channel MTV, not to be confused with the original American pay channel MTV,[3] which is a, pioneered the concept of the aftershow with The After Show (2010), which it showed after so-called “reality TV” programs made by MTV in America.   In 2011, Sony Picture Television’s Embassy Row production company created the aftershow format with Talking Dead, a series on A.M.C. hosted by stand-up comedian and actor Chris Hardwick that is meant to be seen after episodes of the zombie horror shows Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead.  In 2011, Sky Atlantic, a British pay television channel that mostly shows American programs, also started Thronecast (2011-2019), an aftershow for Game of Thrones (2011-2019).  Five years later, H.B.O. started its own Games of Thrones aftershow, After the Thrones (2016), but it only lasted one season.  In 2013, A.M.C. had After Bad (2013), an aftershow that ran after the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad (2008-2013), which was also hosted by Chris Hardwick.

Just as The Truman Show (1998) predicted so-called “reality TV” the film also predicted the aftershow.  The premise of the science fiction film, written by Andrew Niccol and directed by Peter Weir, is that Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is the unwitting star of a television series that has aired twenty-four hours a day without interruption since his birth.  A media conglomerate adopted him – the first time, we are told, that a company adopted a child – and launched a television network that is devoted exclusively to airing content about Truman.  The island on which he lives is a giant sound stage called the “Omni-cam ecosphere.”  Every single person he knows, down to his parents, his best friend, and his wife, is an actor or actress.  Ed Harris plays Christof, the showrunner who plays God with Truman’s life.  Harry Shearer, a comedic actor best known for providing twenty-one voices on The Simpsons, plays Mike Michaelson, the host of Trutalk, a talk show that airs while Truman is sleeping as a forum for the network to answer questions about (and spin perception of) issues arising from Christof’s total control of Truman’s life.

Obviously, aftershow is a portmanteau of after and show, as indicated by the fact it is sometimes hyphenated after-show.  In terms of etymology, it is almost certainly inspired by the term after-party, which means an exclusive party held after the performance of a play or musical concert.  This type of smaller party is also sometimes held after a wedding reception or other large party with dozens or scores of guests.  Similar terms include afterhours and afterschool. Afterhours events at a business (whether an office or a tavern) occur after the normal workday has ended or the public establishment has officially closed.  An example is an after-hours drinking club, something that would have been popular during Prohibition.  Afterschool is a term that means something a student or students do after the school day is done.  A student might need afterschool tutoring, join an afterschool club, or get an afterschool job.


[1] These exceptions are Talking Saul, the aftershow for Better Call Saul – a prequel series to Breaking Bad – and Hacking Robot, an aftershow for Mr. Robot.

[2] Hardcore fans are the kind of people who buy fan magazines; pay to have their pictures taken with the stars of the series at conventions; write fan letters to the stars; nowadays follow the stars of the show on social media; purchase officially licensed toys, clothing, and memorabilia; and attend conventions that are official gatherings of the fans of a particular show (as opposed to broader conventions like comic book cons) such as for fans of Star Trek (1966-1969), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and Angel (1999-2004), Lost (2004-2010), Supernatural, etc. Dozens if not scores of such fans launched YouTube channels devoted exclusively to relating their theories about George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books and Game of Thrones and examining the theories of each other.

[3] Owned by Bell Media, the Canadian channel MTV has the name and branding of the original American pay television channel MTV under a licensing agreement with Viacom.

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