Binge watching television is such a part of our lives these days it’s hard to believe it’s really only been with us for a few years. Streaming entertainment has gifted us with the ability to take in entire seasons of serialized storytelling in mere weeks. Netflix pioneered the trend in 2012, delivering new seasons of original programming all at once.
With great power, however, comes great responsibility; and every entertainment utopia has a dark side. In this case, spoilers.
It was Thanksgiving. My best friend had returned home to New York City from North Carolina for the holiday. As we sat around drinking wine and catching up, the topic turned to the newly released Netflix series Jessica Jones.
I told her I’d seen the first five episodes at that point. Both big Doctor Who fans, we dished about David Tennant’s unsettling performance as Kilgrave, and how he’s basically the Tenth Doctor hopped up on red Kryptonite. We gossiped about the incredibly intense sex scenes between Jessica and Luke Cage (she broke the bed!). And then it happened, my bestie said those fateful words:
“I just love it that they _____________!”
I won’t reiterate here what she said. Suffice it to say, she gave me perhaps the biggest spoiler of the entire series.
She clapped her hand over her mouth and her eyes went wide. I took a large gulp of my wine. She apologized profusely, and joked that at least she hadn’t spoiled Star Wars: The Force Awakens for me. But the damage was done.
The ability to binge-watch brings fans who love to be surprised by plot twists into a new era of spoiler susceptibility. My BFF meant well, she would never spoil me on purpose. But when you mix the excitement of downloading an entire season of good TV into your brain with a little wine — things happen even to the best of nerds and best of friends.
In years past, at worst you’d get a spoiler from the most recent episode of an ongoing series. Binge watching is great fun, but it also allows for a greater chance of spoilers as your friends, coworkers, and family watch shows at their own pace. This is what happened to me, and how less than a week from the release of Jessica Jones, I already knew how it ended.
How do you protect yourself in this brave new world of spoilers?
- Clearly and repeatedly state what part of a series you are up to when discussing that series with friends.
My mistake was in not re-emphasizing that I REALLY didn’t want to be spoiled. I mentioned it once, but when a friend is really excited to talk about a new show, it’s easy for things to slip out. Mention several times in your conversation that you DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED. This should help keep all the sadness and post-modern ennui of Bojack Horseman season 3 fresh and weepy.
- Use a browser app that allows you to screen out mentions of a certain program until you’ve finished watching it.
These services have been around for several years, but have made headlines recently with the need to screen out spoilers. The Chrome browser has many apps that allow you to to selectively screen out content that mentions of whatever show or phrase you designate. I’m already picking my favorite app and entering “Marvel’s Daredevil” so I can keep all the Elektra goodness unspoiled.
- Take a break from social media altogether.
We love our Facebook, our twitter, our Instagram, our Snapchat. But even the most robust browser app can’t save you from social media spoilers. Better to unplug for a few days while you finish that series or get to see Warcraft on March 11. Okay, so you’ll likely be there opening night for that one, but you get the idea.
- If all else fails, stick your fingers in your ears and hum!
I’m reading all the X-Men comics in chronological order, so you can’t imagine the number of spoilers I’ve had to try and avoid. This technique may seem childish, but it also totally works: whenever someone started to talk about the Weapon X program, I’d put my fingers in my ears and start humming “It’s a Small World” and walk away from the conversation. Your friends may laugh at you, but they’ll also get the message.
What are your methods for avoiding spoilers in the era of binge watching? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image credit: Netflix/Marvel