In preparation for Breaking Bad ’s epic finale last night, I had to completely avoid the internet. I let my phone die, I shut down TweetDeck and ignored Facebook until this morning. I never watch TV episodes when they first air, mainly because I’m absent-minded and forget exactly what time they are going to be on.
I don’t have DVR, and I don’t plan on getting it. Hulu, Netflix, and the occasional purchase on iTunes satisfy pretty much all of my TV watching needs. Unfortunately, though, the ubiquity of social media sometimes means that I end up learning a pivotal piece of information about a TV show. Earlier this year, Tweeters spoiled the finale of Shonda Rimes’ Scandal for me, and I was almost forced to commit multiple felonies.
Now that fall TV season is upon us — many shows have already premiered, and more will premiere in the coming weeks — I felt it was important to remind everyone why they shouldn’t spoil the endings to TV shows or movies.
It’s important to remember that not everyone is even at home when new episodes of TV premiere. Some people have jobs, and some of those even take place at night! Many of the people who work these jobs in the evening own a smartphone and check in on Facebook and Twitter whenever things are slow. Nothing is worse than popping in on Twitter while you’re working your ass off, and finding out that your favorite character has been killed off. Be considerate and keep what you’ve learned to yourself — your friends will thank you.
It’s also possible that not everyone you know has a cable subscription. They may watch it over at a friend’s house or buy it online the next morning. One of my friends is a nanny, and she catches up on her shows while the kids she cares for are sleeping. We all have our different watching habits, and we’d all prefer that they not be disturbed.
Watching through an entire season of a TV show, or multiple seasons, is an investment of both time and emotions. Viewers care about the characters and the storylines, and what happens to them. For example, for last night’s Breaking Bad series finale, thousands of web users made their “bracket” — or predictions of who would live, and who would die. Wrapping up these stories and in this case, the lives of the characters, is why we watch TV.
Tweeting spoilers is ruining fun, and no one wants to be a fun-ruiner. Television watching doesn’t function in the same way as reading (although I will also kill you if you ruin the end of a book) in that you’re not doing it to acquire knowledge. You’re watching shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad to entertain yourself, and figuring out how all the pieces — the story, character, even the settings — ultimately fit together is an essential part of ending your relationship with that show.
And so, spoiler tweeters, consider yourself on notice. Tweeting through your feelings about Walter White may be your thing, but you could be ruining your friends’ favorite shows.
Image: Ursula Coyote/AMC