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September 4, 2015

How do you avoid spoilers?

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 29th 2007 3:22PM

Lost logoOf course, the subtitle of my title should probably be "Do you avoid spoilers?", because a lot of TV fans actually like them.

There was a time when there were no spoilers for TV shows. None at all. In the 60s and 70s and 80s and early 90s, there was no internet to speak of, and the gossip magazines and gossip TV shows really didn't go to any great lengths to find out what was going to happen on a season finale or a particular episode. Of course, it's a chicken or egg thing now. The shows are doing cliffhangers all the time (even sitcoms) and actually like to cultivate spoilers to hype the show (there was a time when a TV show's season just ended with a regular episode, nothing shocking or cliffhanger-ish). Cliffhangers really took off with the famous "Who Shot J.R." episode of Dallas.*

It's as true for movies as it is for TV shows. Everyone talks about the big twists in The Sixth Sense** and The Crying Game,*** but I remember walking into Raiders of the Lost Ark and having no idea what the film was or what was going to happen. You can't do that nowadays. Previews - the endless previews - for TV shows and movies give away too much. And if you happen to avoid them, you still have to avoid the web, magazines, newspapers, Entertainment Tonight, and office talk.

I have a love/hate relationship with spoilers. While it's my job to find out info about the TV shows we cover, I actually long for those days when TV shows just came on and you experienced them. A viewer would experience a TV show a lot differently than a viewer does today. If we had the internet and this much interest years ago as we do now, everyone would have known what happened in the last episode of Newhart.**** Though I have to admit I looked at the spoiler for Lost last season and found out what was going to happen in the season finale.

Anyway, Brian Lowry at Variety has a piece about how hard it is for a TV fan to avoid spoilers nowadays. Do you avoid them or actually seek them out?

* It was Kristin.
** Bruce Willis is actually dead.
*** Chick is a dude.
**** The show was a dream and he woke up in a bed with Suzanne Pleshette.

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Like Billy (comment #6) I like light spoilers, or synopses. Growing up I used to grab the TV listings from the newspaper or the TV Guide every week and read the synopses of TV shows.

I try to avoid direct spoilers/details but it's not easy. It's even harder in this day in age of internet + Tivo, PVR, episode downloads, etc. It used to be that if you missed an episode you either taped it or waited for the rerun, and risked hearing people talk about it. Now we've got the internet and more means of acquiring an episode for later viewing. A lot of us miss shows when they first air and then watch full seasons on DVD.

I watched all three seasons of Grey's Anatomy over the summer knowing that Addison left Seattle Grace for her own spin off and knowing the Burke was gone but I avoided learning why Addison left and I scrolled past all the Isiah Washington stories in attempt to avoid knowing how the character was written out.

That all said, I tend to forget what's going to happen anyway and even if I remember there's still surprise when I actually see it.

October 31 2007 at 10:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have adult ADD...I think. I can read all the spoilers I want, and still be shocked when the show airs.

I read the Lost 'game changer' spoliler a week before the season finale, and I was floored when I saw the episode. I only remembered reading the spoiler when someone else reminded me.

I love my brain.

October 30 2007 at 12:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

@ 12 Bill:
Yup....I know the episode you mention. I thought that was on too soon (recap) since that scene hasn't happened yet.
I also do not wait for next week's preview for a few reasons, it's over hyped and they make something out of nothing and then you wonder if you missed something.
Also, I'm going to watch it anyway so why not get some more dishes washed.

October 30 2007 at 6:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm with #1. What kills me is when a show cuts straight to the "Next week on..." when the episode ends, which was a problem with Friday Night Lights two weeks ago, since it revealed a plot point of this past episode right off the bat. Give me a few seconds to find the remote, damnit!

I don't watch much on the CW anymore, but it (and the WB before it) used to be awful. at like 7:59:50pm, they'd show a "Tonight on Gilmore Girls..." and it would often include the plot point from the very last scene of the episode.

Although the worst example I ever saw was in one of those "what we've seen so far" things. Around the half-hour mark, they showed a recap of the first 40 minutes or so, which involved showing a few scenes that hadn't even happened yet. Fortunately, it was during Las Vegas, a show I don't really care about. If they did that during Lost of Battlestar Galactica, I might've destroyed my television in a fit of rage.

October 30 2007 at 4:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think a more important issue on whether a person likes spoilers or not is how websites like this can make themselves more flexible to either kind of person. It's surprising to me that with so much coding and technology behind websites, they still don't implement one of several techniques that can be used to hide spoilers.

Personally I think spoilers should be hidden from viewers, but made easily available to those who want to read them. To that end, I setup my blog to include spoiler blocks which hide the spoiler text until you mouseover the block. You can see an example on this review of the Entourage finale:

Why force everyone to read spoilers or omit spoilers entirely? Either way you're disappointing a group of people. There's an easy way to please both.

October 29 2007 at 10:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I totally avoid spoilers, any kind. And yes I do think casting spoilers are evil spoilers!!!! I never checked if the Winchesters were dead or not after the season one final, no Lost spoilers for me, no nothing. Just letting the shows take me by surprise. And I love it!

October 29 2007 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When it comes to spoilers, I like only the most basic information. Episode title, basic description, and an idea of where things are going overall and what to look for. Revealing giant mysteries and telling who's going to die, those are the ones I avoid. Tell me someone's going to die, but don't tell me who.

October 29 2007 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My avoidance of spoilers depends on my interest in the show. A lot of stuff I don't care if I miss and episode or three so spoilers aren't a problem. But those few shows in which I shift my schedule around to view(TIVO them? please! I can barely wait 10 minutes to timeshift them as to skip the commercials in the first 30minutes.) I avoid news about them like the plague.

Similar with movies, the more I'm interested in seeing it, the less information I want to see about it.

October 29 2007 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The asterisk spoilers were really funny.

October 29 2007 at 5:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Billy Mabray

I like light spoilers, where I get just enough information to know what to look forward to, but not ruin any plot twists.

So, I try to only read spoilers several months before the start of a season. Right now is a good time for 24, Lost, and BSG spoilers because you're not likely to find specific details.

October 29 2007 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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