I think everyone can agree that the way we watch TV these days is different – from your DVR to services like Primetime on Demand to online viewing options, there are many ways to try new series or (re)watch favorites. With so many choices, we’ve also seen the rise of the “spoiler alert!” But I have to ask: what’s a spoiler these days?
Just to make sure we’re all speaking the same language, a spoiler is information shared (electronically or otherwise) that reveals – spoils – a plot twist, character development or other big news on a TV show or movie.
If your social streams are like mine, you’re probably seeing more and more spoilerphobics complaining about online reviews or conversations about a show they haven’t caught yet. If you’re using social media, chances are your favorite networks and shows are posting, not to mention the chatter from your own friends and followers. With so many ways and times to watch, at what point do you lose your right to spoiler outrage? Days? Months? Years? Do I still have to post “Spoiler Alert” when I’m talking about the episode of Friends where Ross & Rachel end up together? (Sorry – SPOILER ALERT!)
If it’s me calling the shots, I’m going to say midnight, on the original air date. Hear me out on this one – the precedent was set in the pre-social media days, when people used every available resource to make sure they caught the “watercooler show” of the day, in part because you knew that it’s what everyone would be talking about and you wanted to be part of the conversation. Now that the talk is also happening online, the original air date is still your fair shot to watch the show with the original collective audience.
Trust me, I’ve got nothing against DVR-ing shows – my DVR is a lifesaver and what allows me to watch the amount of television I do! And there are still series that are part of the pop culture zeitgeist that I’ve missed – Breaking Bad & Game of Thrones come immediately to mind – that I do still intend to watch.
I think I’ve done a pretty good job steering away from those reviews, commentary pieces and other social posts. Case in point: the only thing I know about the “Red Wedding” is there was a shocking scene in the last season of Game of Thrones that people are calling the “Red Wedding”. That’s pretty much because any time I see a Game of Thrones-related name, image, reference, etc, I try to keep scrolling as fast as possible. That’s not to say I haven’t accidentally seen a few details, but I know I’ve lost my right to spoiler outrage because I didn’t make those shows my priority.
So, that’s where I’m calling it. Same day of original airing: needs a “Spoiler Alert” warning. After that, you’re on your own!
Let me hear it: What’s your cut off for the necessary “Spoiler Alert” warning?
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