Treatment Suggestions for Sufferers of Repressed Spoilers Syndrome

Daryl Dixon, Norman Reedus, Walking Dead

If Daryl Dixon ever dies, your dreams of a spoiler-free Sunday evening will be beyond laughable.

Every Sunday evening during the active TV seasons, my online experience takes the same shape: a few friends share their vague reactions to the new episode of The Walking Dead that signify something game-changing happened yet again, right on schedule; one or two other friends dispense with discretion and blurt out what the game-changing thing was to anyone who’ll listen; and another friend or two explode with spoiler rage because they weren’t watching the show as it aired, but totally planned to watch it as soon as they could, or as soon as they felt like it, apparently having learned nothing from the last forty times this happened with the last forty episodes.

Of those three fan divisions, it’s my belief that the most stressed-out and in need of help is Group 1.

Think about it, though — not just in regard to The Walking Dead, but with any major TV show where something just happened. You settle in for an hour of comfort viewing, hoping for great drama but willing to settle for merely not-boring, when suddenly something punches a hole in the status quo and your mind is blown — a character dies, a secret identity is revealed, someone dead returns, a good character turns evil (or vice versa), etc. After that’s done, your nerves are jangled and you need to talk about it right now. That’s commendable. Discussing your trauma is normal and healthy. Bottling it up hurts and can cause hypertension.

In the old days, when the Ewing family took turns stabbing each other in the back or the Ingalls family buried yet another infant in their suspiciously vast Walnut Grove graveyard, our grandparents could pick up the phone and call a friend or relative who’d also been watching. This option was much easier to exercise when America only had three channels and folks had easy 1-in-3 odds of liking the same show as any given acquaintance. If all else failed, they saved their excitement until work the next day and gathered around the “water cooler” to share their impressions and opinions with other fans. TV fans generally got along and all was right in the world of couch potatoes.

Now? Thanks to the wonders of technology and the march of progress, none of us are on the same page anymore. If we’re bristling with TV reactions and dying to unleash the spoilers in a group setting, we’re likely to invite the wrath of others and watch helplessly as they sever their relationship with us over it. Time-shifted viewing in our busy, busy world (regardless of whether that busyness is a necessary evil or self-inflicted baggage) has complicated the fine art of immediate fan discussion. The new expectation from some corners is that “live” viewers are expected to keep their mouths shut and ruin nothing for everyone else until…well, some non-specific time frame has passed. The first twenty-four hours tend to be the roughest, but how do you handle a guy who’s incensed because he won’t have time to catch it till next weekend? Or because he was waiting for the DVD release next fall? How long is long enough to wait?

If you’re like me and do your best to maintain some semblance of manners and civility, and if you prefer watching shows as they air, and if you yearn for some back-and-forth thought-bouncing with others about it…you’re trapped. One wrong word in the wrong venue where the wrong eyes might be laid upon it, and you risk trampling someone else’s enthusiasm and/or instilling them with a sense of furious vendetta against you.

What are your coping mechanism options? Choose wisely according to your temperament and willingness to brave the consequences:

* Resign yourself to never, ever talking about your favorite show. The gentleman’s response is naturally to cause as little discomfort for others as possible, so pen up all your geek emotions till you have a nervous breakdown. Remember in your final bitter thoughts that your emotional implosion is for the greater good.

* Discuss your show wherever and whenever you want, but be prepared to apologize quickly and often. Every. Single. Time. Eventually everyone will tire of your apologies and block/unfollow you, and then you’ll have all the time and space you want by yourself.

* Do the same, but minus the apologies. Live the life of the obnoxious, unrepentant troll, someday to die alone, unloved, and mourned only by hobos who steal your clothes from the funeral home Dumpster after they’re done attending your cheapie anonymous cremation.

* Find a support group with others who know your discomfort and will allow you to be open and honest with your feelings about what you just watched. (Message boards are great for this, what few livable ones remain. I’m fortunate enough to have retained this option, but newer internet users may have no idea what I’m talking about.)

* Visit any popular entertainment news site, set up permanent residence in their Comments sections, and learn to live among the dregs of humanity, where anyone can say anything that pops into their head without any bearing on decency, reality, or self-awareness. Not recommended for users over age zero.

* Never watch shows where anything dramatic or game-changing happens. Attach yourself to some formulaic police procedural, unfunny sitcom, or ’80s reruns on basic cable instead. You’re guaranteed a stress-free life if your only TV intake is Matlock.

* Quit TV cold turkey and find other excuses for striking up conversation with others. I hear sports are a viable alternative. I wouldn’t know.

Remember: whatever your decision might be, it’s not the responsibility of those other fans to avoid sites and social media where spoilers will immediately, obviously, relentlessly abound. The burden in this conflict is entirely on you as part of your punishment for the heinous offense of making time to watch “live” TV. How dare you. Go talk about your shows anywhere you want except Not In My Back Yard.

And, y’know, have fun. That’s what TV and the internet are for in the first place. Sometimes.

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About Randall A. Golden
A Hoosier since birth, a geek since age 6, a father since age 22, and a Christian since age 30. Full-time customer service rep; part-time Internet participant; content provider to Nightly.net since 2001; prone to Twitter-lurking as @RandallGolden . Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of any other corporation, being, or party line.

2 Responses to Treatment Suggestions for Sufferers of Repressed Spoilers Syndrome

  1. Joe Owens says:

    I enjoy watching the Walking Dead with Comcast On Demand, usually the morning after it airs. I also watch Talking Dead where they discuss the latest episode and all the repercussions. This limits the chance of any surprises. I still have not gotten into he discussion rooms or Twitter monitoring.

    • See, that’s a totally sensible approach. I use Comcast on Demand to catch Once Upon a Time later in the week because my Sunday evenings are often packed…though it helps that my online friends never talk about the show and potentially ruin anything, and entertainment sites never care to write about its plot points in their headlines…

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