How I Prepare For an Episode of AMC “VERSUS”

As many of you know, we recently added something new to the AMC line-up called “VERSUS” – a weekly show where we go head to head with our colleagues, and discuss controversial movie topics in debate format.

On the series premiere of “VERSUS” Jon Schnepp and I debated the topic of who gave the better superhero performance, Bale as Batman or RDJ as Iron Man. Thanks to your votes, my defense of Christian Bale was victorious, and I felt pretty good about the overall experience. But when we received our assignments (and yes, that means we don’t pick who or what we’re “for” or “against”) for episode two, my confidence started to wilt. The topic was, who gave the best performance of Spider-Man, and I had to defend Tobey Maguire.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Tobey Maguire. But anyone that’s ever seen “Spider-Man 3” knows this was going to be an uphill battle. To tell you the truth, I love the character of Spider-Man and I don’t think he’s ever been cast right. Either way, I knew I had to push those feelings aside and man up in order to get the job done.  I committed to defending Tobey, rolled up my sleeves, and got down and dirty with the research delving into data, comic books, and I even re-watched all the of the Spider-Man movies. And you know what? I did an outstanding job. I even convinced myself that this was the role Tobey was God-ordained to play. Or at least Stan Lee-ordained.

After this episode aired, many of you have expressed interest in seeing my debate in it’s entirety. Additionally, many of you have asked me questions about the show, from how it all works, to how/why I structure my arguments the way that I do. This blog post is my attempt at answering some of them, and specifically to shed some light on how I get ready for “VERSUS.”

First of all, let the record show that there are no set rules on how to prepare for an episode of “VERSUS.” We all have our own different methods and ideas of how to best approach our individual arguments – that’s what makes it fun. Ultimately, this show is about providing the Internet with entertaining content on topics we all like to discuss in nerdy conversations anyway. That being said, this is how I start my debate prep process.

STEP 1: Preliminary (And Super Illegible) Thought Mapping

I know, I know. At this point you’re probably thinking, “WTF am I looking at?” What you’re looking at is where it all starts. This is how I keep my notes and general ideas organized as I start doing preliminary research for my arguments. As you can see, the ideas are categorized under P.P. for Peter Parker, S.M. for Spider-Man, and of course A.G. for all the super mature notes I took on the “other Spider-Man,” Andrew Garfield.

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STEP 2: Let The Outlining Begin!

This is my favorite part – when I get to take all those random notes and put them together into something that actually makes sense. My outlining process is pretty standard, and simply another method to help me keep my thoughts organized before I start expanding on them.

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STEP 3: Structuring The Debate

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m kind of a nerd. And by kind of, I mean a huge, erudite scholarly type of nerd who actually really likes writing essays, researching topics, and getting my ideas out of my head and on to real or electronic paper. It soothes my soul. Thus, the thesis debate. Believe it or not, for me this is actually fun.

Those of you who remember the episode will notice that there’s a lot in the written debate below that didn’t make air. Everything that’s marked with a green X I had to cut due to time limitations for the show. Everything in pink are  notes I took during the debate to keep track of what I wanted to address in rebuttals and/or final statements.

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STEP 4: Showtime!

This is the part you all get to see!


I hope this helped to shed some light on how I prep for “VERSUS.” Although you only get to see a few minutes (AKA STEP 4) of the entire process, there’s a lot of work that happens before each and every episode. A big thank you to those who have tuned in and show your support through intelligent comments, tweets, and with your votes – no matter who they’re in favor of. I know this show can get a little divisive, and intense at times, but please remember that ultimately we’re all here for fun. It’s never my goal to go in just for a “win.” Instead, my goal is to be as prepared as I can, play the part, and leave the studio with something that’s fun for you to watch.

Thank you for the support!



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