At the Crossroads of Media, Culture and Technology

Stop Being a TV Show Spoiler- Some Etiquette

It started just before 7 pm on Sunday night. My east coast friends all started updating their Twitter and Facebook with something along the lines of “OMG DOWNTON !!!!!!!!!!!!!!” At first I thought it was that they won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series (which they did) but then I started seeing more and more sad posts about Downton Abbey, so I knew something was up on that night’s episode.

I closed my computer and resisted checking my phone until 9 p.m. and then while watching I saw why everyone freaked out and subsequently wanted to hurt Julian Fellowes and the writers between my tears. The plot twist in episode four was heart-wrenching. But, that’s not the point. The point is that if I had read closer into my friends’ updates I would have known what had happened on Downton hours before. And if I had waited to watch the next day? I would have known the news before I hit play.

Ever since TiVo, DVRs, and Hulu became more prolific the chance of seeing a spoiler became more and more likely. Personally I record everything. And the majority of the time I don’t watch shows live, either I’m not home or I start late to avoid commercials. But many of my friends watch live and inevitably post something on some social media network. Then their friends who are also watching live comment or reply, and a simple reading of the thread…BOOM! The whole show is spoiled. But in the age of second screening (admit it you live-tweeted the debates too) what are the best TV watching tips so not upset your friends and ruin an episode?

  1. If you are planning on watching live and reside on the west coast (as we MCDM’ers do), just avoid social media. What? You can’t do that? You need to see those photos your friend posted of their [insert here: baby, puppy, cat, wedding] immediately?  I know, it’s difficult. But if the majority of your spoilers come from Facebook, and you just can’t log off and are insanely devoted to your show, hide those spoiler-sharing people from your newsfeed, at least for the night. If you find the spoilers on Twitter, you may just want to log off or filter words out with a third-party app.
  2. Remember the Golden Rule! Do unto others as you would yourself. Well, practice that in TV/second screen form. Don’t post spoilers and set a model example. Even cryptic “OMG WHAT HAPPENED?” can turn into conversations, which then reveal the plot, so avoid even that. Or at least wait about a day for everyone to catch up.
  3. Ask your friends to not post spoilers. Ok, no idea if this will actually work since we all love sharing, but if it’s your BFF that lives in New York and she’s ALWAYS ruining shows just tell him/her to please stop.
  4. Do you really, really, really need to talk to someone about the plot twist? Maybe watch with them or text them or email…all conversations don’t need to happen on a feed on the internet (!!!!).

So the moral of the story? Spoilers are everywhere, especially if you live time zones behind your friends, so let’s all be nice and try not to ruin entire plot lines on social media. Hey, it may just result in world peace, or at least peace on Facebook.

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This post is categorized in: Entertainment

3 Responses to Stop Being a TV Show Spoiler- Some Etiquette

  1. Alex Stonehill says:

    Seriously! I have the same problem during football season. I’d much rather spend an hour and a half watching a Seahawks game on DVR on Monday evening then spending 4 hours in the middle of my Sunday, but it pretty much takes a sensory deprivation helmet to avoid finding out what happened.

    But whether it’s football or Downton, I think part of the experience for people is the sense of community they feel talking about it in real time via social media.

  2. Jeriann Fisher says:

    I was one of these who posted on Twitter, but I kept it spoiler free. I think there is a way to engage with your fellow fans and not spoil for those who haven’t watched yet.

  3. Alluc says:

    Thanks for posting this great article Jessica. This should be shared to others as well.

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