Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spoilers and Social Media

Back in the 90s I followed and discussed figure skating with other fans on Usenet (who remembers that?).  And people would go to live competitions and post the results.  Since it wouldn't be broadcast till days later (at least in those days they did broadcast most of the competitions) it was etiquette to post SPOILER in the header so people could skip the post pretend like the TV broadcast was live and experience the suspense.  But of course, especially during the Olympics people would get all excited and post TARA WON! and then everyone would excoriate them for "ruining" the Olympics for them.  Or they would cry because they went on the internet and there was a headline about the results.  Even then I was like, dude, it's news, stay home and turn everything off if you don't want to know.

Now it's Downton Abbey.  Seems like everyone is watching it.  Some didn't catch on right away and are trying to catch up on previous seasons on DVD or Itunes.  And some people think the rest of us are not supposed to talk about the latest episode.  Or "warn" them with spoilers.  I'm sorry I think that's really really unrealistic.  This is social media.  The fun part of social media is talking about stuff AS IT HAPPENS.  

It's not that I'm unsympathetic.  The people in the UK are ahead of us and I found out something that is going to happen that I wish I didn't.  But I never let that spoil the show  for me.  See, reason why we are all hooked on Downton Abbey is that it is a soap opera.  Some people who never watched soaps before are just discovering just how addicting that kind of entertainment can be. It's well acted and well written, but it's a soap.  Which means you can pretty much predict what is going to happen.  I knew Edith was going to be left at the altar before the wedding and as soon as they started arguing about taking Sybil to the hospital I knew she was going to die.  And I STILL cried.  

For that matter I knew Fantine was going to cut her hair, have her teeth pulled out, become a prostitute and die and I STILL cried.

So if you are friends with me on facebook and follow me on twitter - be warned.  I'm going to talk about Downton Abbey next Sunday.


  1. Agreed. To me, this is what used to be known as "water cooler" shows - the stuff you watched and couldn't wait to get to work, school, etc. to be able to discuss. Now we have our water cooler moments (for better or worse, not sure which) on social media. I have already seen most of this season of Downton, but I won't say what will happen before the episode airs, but once it airs we should all expect people to talk about it. That's part of the fun of good TV!

    I cried too. And I agree, with a soap you know what's coming. I knew Sybil was going to die when the argued as well. Soaps are pretty heavily foreshadowed.

  2. yeah, I had that sinking feeling, too. Not just because it's a soap, but because that's how fiction works, there's a trajectory and a logic, even when it's a surprise. some people are better at that than others because they read certain kinds of novels. I remember watching an old movie with my husband, called "The Rains Came." There was a part in the movie where the feminine character (who had been sort of an amoral, anchorless person) falls in love with an indian prince and becomes transformed and starts nursing these plague victims. And at one point I turned to my husband and said "I think she's going to die."

    because that's just how these kinds of plots work.

    that was sort of mean of me, though.

    as for Downton Abbey, I someone says to me, "I don't want to know", I try to honor that personally, but yeah, I think we should be able to TALK about it! that's half the fun!