Spoiler Alert: The Fine Line Between Teasing and Spoiling

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There used to be a time when I wanted to know everything about anything that had to do with a show that I loved, including any and all spoilers for the next episode, the episode after that, and, awww, heck, for the entire season arc if it’s available because I love the show so much that I want to know everything not as soon as it happens, but before it happens (because I’m just that obsessed.)

And then I got burned. It was the summer before season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was completely into the show after the stellar season 2 cliffhanger of the apparent death of Angel, but more importantly because the couple I was shipping-Xander and Cordy- were pretty much a true blue couple (except for the part where Willow was still crushing on Xander and Xander might be starting to crush on Willow). Anyhoo, I was psyched to see what lay ahead in season 3; so psyched that I couldn’t wait to see the show in a few months, I just had to read the spoilers. So I did. And I read the big casting news that Cordy would be leaving Buffy to join the Angel spin-off; which meant that, yup, in an episode to be called ‘Lover’s Walk’ Xander and Cordy were going to break-up. And suddenly season 3 wasn’t so great for me anymore. Yeah, sure, it ultimately had iconic episodes such as ‘The Wish’ and ‘Graduation Day’, but the whole promise of the season had been tainted for me WEEKS before the first episode aired and continued to be tainted for the entire season. All I could focus on was that ‘My Couple’ Cordy and Xander were going to break-up: Waiting for it to happen, then getting annoyed by the fallout, and then growing increasingly annoyed at the thought of one of my favorite characters (Cordy) being paired with one of my least favorite characters (Angel). When I say least favorite, I mean I loathed the character of Angel – I may have been the only BtVS fan doing the happy dance at the end of season 2 when Buffy sent Angel to Hell.

With the reading of some casting news (and detailed spoilers for the first half of the season) The Joss-verse had been ruined for me. Or rather, I had ruined it for myself. Looking back with more mature (har!) eyes I realized that rather than being able to actually judge the episodes on their own, I was looking at them through a biased lens of ‘betrayal’ and wasn’t able to see how good (or bad) they really were because, as far as I was concerned, it was all bad because it was all spoiled for me.

So with my next TVshow obsessions, Lost and 24, I adopted a ‘strict’ no spoilers policy. I didn’t go to my usual spoiler haunts for detailed spoilers; just read articles and recaps after viewing. The result was a split; no spoilers definitely made the Lost experience a lot more enjoyable, but after being blindsided by the insanity of Day 6 of 24 (Jack Bauer’s Dad and brother are terrorists? C’mon!), I folded and sought out spoilers to determine if I should hold on for something better or cut my losses and wait for a new season. A quick search told me that if I wanted to keep some semblance of love for all things CTU, to let it go until the next year would be best.

And then I realized that spoilers actually had their benefits: they can save you time and space on your DVR.

Now I don’t advocate spoiling yourself for every show you watch, but for shows that you’re on the fence about it can’t hurt for you to take a peek: it’ll either surprise you and convince you to keep watching or confirm your hesitance and allow you to find another show to put on your dance card.

But what about when you don’t hunt the spoilers – the spoilers hunting you? I.e. when spoilers come at you in the form of recap blog titles, casting notices, and unavoidable Twitter and Facebook updates? There are no easy answers. For the most part you have two choices: you either make a point to cut yourself off from all things pop culture related on the internet until you’re all caught up, or hunker down and actually watch that buzz inducing, water cooler show *gasp* live so as to be ahead of the curve. Either way, it’s an unfair dilemma for an overbooked pop culture television junkie in this age of overabundance of noteworthy shows and non-stop pop culture coverage.

What is your spoiler of choice?

New character additions

The ‘You won’t see this coming’ end of episode twist

‘Shipper news

Shocking character death

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