The Star Wars prequels were infamously loathed upon their release - panned by fans for a whole slew of different reasons. I'll go on record as saying that some of those complaints were a bit overblown.

I rewatched them last year out of curiosity. They weren't amazing  by any stretch, but they also weren't the dumpster-fire flicks that legions of angry nerds made them out to be. I came out of them feeling like I'd watched your average effects-driven late 90s/early 2000s genre movie.  A bit cringey in places and a touch mediocre, overall, but with more bright spots than people like to admit. There were definitely worse movies released during that time period. (Side note: Revenge of the Sith is overrated.)

One sentiment I can absolutely agree with, however, is that the prequel movies are made more enjoyable by Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Beginning in 2008, The Clone Wars is an animated Star Wars series that takes place during the (titular) war the Prequel Trilogy is centered around. While some parts of the Clone Wars are lackluster, others can be counted among the best Star Wars content ever produced.

The show could have real teeth and treated the "war" side of Star Wars with a gravitas and maturity that the movies often struggled with. The clone troopers and what it means to literally be a disposable person were explored with depth. The flaws and decline of the Jedi Order are portrayed in full. Most of all? The cartoon introduced fan favorite Ahsoka Tano and made an actual likable character out of sad-boy Anakin Skywalker.

There are a lot of people who now actively praise the Prequel Trilogy because of the rehabilitation they received via The Clone Wars. Star Wars fans, especially those who grew up when the prequel trilogy were in theaters, can tell you how incredible that is. Lives were literally ruined because of how much people hated those movies. The vitriol was strong with those films.

Much like the prequels, people had a lot of complaints about the Star Wars sequel films. Some of them were legitimate. Others were rooted in bigotry and misogyny, and aren't even worth entertaining.

For my part, I personally enjoyed at least some of them. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was and remains a great movie. The Last Jedi, was half of a good movie. The Rise of the Skywalker had several scenes that were good individually but never added up to anything satisfying.

All of the movies made questionable decisions. The Force Awakens did little to provide any context for the current state of the galaxy. It offered nothing to explain for who the bad guys (The First Order) were, where they came from, and why they looked like the Empire 2.0. We were just kind of expected to accept and trust we'd learn more as the trilogy went on. The problem is we never really did. The questions only multiplied as the movies continued.

Why is the Republic so weak? Why are these Empire wannabes so strong? Where in the Galaxy are we even? Who is this Snoke weirdo? What the hell does "the dead speak!" even mean?

I've written crawls for my RPG campaigns that made more sense...

The original Star Wars movies weren't perfect either, but they provided enough details in their writing and dialogue for the viewer to learn everything they needed. The Sequel Trilogy often didn't even try. They generally felt shallow as a result.

Which brings us to now. All the biggest things in Star Wars, currently, are on the small screen - via Disney+. And now, just like with The Clone Wars, ideas and concepts that the movies failed with are being fleshed out in TV shows.

The Mandalorian ostensibly began as a series disconnected from the greater lore of the Skywalker Saga. As time has gone on, however, its proximity to the events of the films has grown closer and closer. More and more time was spent dropping hints and alluding to plot ideas tying into the Sequel Trilogy.

The most recent Star Wars show, Ahsoka is only a few episodes in, but has already been far more egregious in this regard. While it does have its own story, a lot of the plot so far has been rooted in showcasing "how we get from Empire to First Order."

Mind you, I don't necessarily think it's bad for either show to include such things. I think it's almost unavoidable, in fact, for them to not involve that sort of content, seeing how they both take place in-between the eras of the Original Trilogy and Sequel Trilogy. When you base your story in a time of turmoil, it's just going to come up.

What bothers me is that I shouldn't have to watch Ahsoka to learn that the New Republic suffered from weak leadership and inept bureaucracy. The Mandalorian shouldn't have needed to commit an entire episode showcasing how the fledgling government is plagued with Imperial loyalists. Their inclusion in either show should be toppings on the meal, not a free pizza the waiter brings out after the kitchen burnt the first one.

The Mandalorian digs into the difficulties of setting up a functioning galactic government.

These are points that should have already been made clear in the movies. It wouldn't have even taken very much. A line or two of dialogue would have been enough to set the stage. The movies literally start with expositional text crawls, for heaven's sake! The fact that they didn't tell us the essentials was bad writing.

The Star Wars shows on Disney+ have, by and large, been enjoyable! Ahsoka is a product of Dave Filoni - one of the best things to happen to Star Wars in recent history. They have given us new adventures and a deeper look at the Galaxy Far Far Away. My hope, going forward, is that they can stop doing the double duty of filling in the quality cracks left by the films.

When I'm watching a movie, I should never have to think "I'll wait for the TV show to figure that out." A complete trilogy of films should be able to stand alone.