I promise, this is easier to understand than the Calculus you learned in high school and it’s definitely much more useful. It’s all based on a rubric designed by Jeremy Bentham who died back in 1832. Nevermind that he died before Whedon was born, just go with it and it’ll all make perfect sense. It all starts with Intensity.
1) The Intensity of the drama, and of the emotional satisfaction. How many squees per minute? How many memes are generated? How much does it break Twitter? Unlike his colleague John Stuart Mill, Bentham did not consider the quality of the emotional satisfaction, or consider some forms of satisfaction high and others low. In 1795, Bentham and Mill had a public debate over whether Angel’s muppet episode was inherently a lower form of pleasure than the ballerina episode, because of the relative cultural value of those two forms of satisfaction.
In all there are has seven steps that involve measuring the Intensity and Duration of the drama, evaluating the Propensity, Fecundity and Propinquity of the satisfaction received from watching the drama, and then factoring in the Purity and Extent of your enjoyment. Okay, I lied, it’s easily as confusing as Calculus. Let’s just say Joss Whedon’s dramas are wonderful, complex, confusing, exhilarating and almost always too short, and we’ll call it a day.
If you want to extra credit you can read the full dissertation for homework in the link below.