It is virtually impossible to watch a movie or TV show without preconceived notions because of the hype that precedes them, while a host of media extensions guarantees them a life long past their air dates. An onslaught of information from print media, trailers, internet discussion, merchandising, podcasts, and guerilla marketing, we generally know something about upcoming movies and TV shows well before they are even released or aired. The extras, or “paratexts,” that surround viewing experiences are far from peripheral, shaping our understanding of them and informing our decisions about what to watch or not watch and even how to watch before we even sit down for a show.
Show Sold Separately gives critical attention to this ubiquitous but often overlooked phenomenon, examining paratexts like DVD bonus materials for The Lord of the Rings, spoilers for Lost, the opening credits of The Simpsons, Star Wars actions figures, press reviews for Friday Night Lights, the framing of Batman Begins, the videogame of The Thing, and the trailers for The Sweet Hereafter. Plucking these extra materials from the wings and giving them the spotlight they deserve, Jonathan Gray examines the world of film and television that exists before and after the show.