Fans of TV dramas – from Game of Thrones to Killing Eve – are desperate to be kept in the dark about plot twists. But what about those who not only don’t mind spoilers, they actively seek them out? Here, three spoiler-lovers explain why they do it.
Don’t panic – this article contains no actual spoilers
I click on ‘spoiler alerts’
I love a spoiler. I actually feel more relaxed when I’ve been told one.
Perhaps it is my impatient side, but I feel nervous not knowing what is going to happen when I watch a TV show or movie. How can people sit through Avengers: Endgame without knowing the twists and turns?
I can understand why some people would want to see something like the Game of Throne’s Battle of Winterfell play out in “real time”. But with a spoiler comes a sense of relief. Killing Eve is another example. At the moment it pleases me to read about series two (it is airing in the US but not in the UK yet).
For me, a spoiler can make a show more enjoyable. I argue that the thing that grips is the way the drama unfolds, not the “shock!” moment. I can live with knowing who dies before I see it, and even knowing how they die. That way I can relax and enjoy the acting, dialogue and direction, without being on the edge of the sofa.
When articles scream “Spoiler alert!”, I click on them. Before BBC police drama Line of Duty reached its feature-length grand finale in the UK at the weekend, people were blocking hashtags on Twitter and refusing to read news websites. However, rather than avoiding any of the coverage, I consumed it all with vigour, actively trying to find out who stayed alive.
And it’s not just big-budget dramas, either. When it comes to my weekly soap operas, I read the magazines that give away storylines and find out who will be leaving or killed off.
When a character does die unexpectedly, it stays with me. It can feel a bit like the writer has let me down, too, by taking them away from me.
One of the reasons I find it amusing that spoilers hold such terror for people is that in other areas of entertainment, such as books, they don’t mind. After all, would someone not watch an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice just because they know what happens between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy?
If you can know the story of a book, but appreciate the way it is interpreted, then why not with a TV drama?
Jenny Stallard, London, UK
I look for set leaks
I am a big Game of Thrones fan, and as I am based in the US, I watch it as soon as it streams on Sundays. But, beforehand, I read and listen to as much about the episode as possible. Most of my spoilers come via podcasts, such as Storm of Spoilers, where they dig into crack-pot theories, as well as what they can piece together from leaks.
I could dig into spoilers even further on Reddit and I do get that information, second-hand, sometimes. But I prefer to get my insight from people with industry knowledge, who can contextualise it. It makes the actual viewing seem deeper. And even when I know a big twist is coming, I still have that “wow, I can’t believe they did that” feeling.
I just don’t really believe in spoilers as a concept. Typically people think of spoilers as the outcome. They want to get to the finish line of their narratives, but, for me, I prefer the journey.
And this does not mean I try to ruin shows for others. I try to be respectful of other people’s feelings. It is just that spoilers don’t effect my personal enjoyment of the content and, in many cases, they enrich my experience, so I actively seek them out.
Besides, it is also a lot of work, in this day and age, just to try to avoid spoilers.
For me, knowing and seeing are totally different things. I can go to a theme park and can see a ride, but watching the rollercoaster go down the drop and experiencing it are “apples and oranges”.
Dave Edward Pfeiffer-Ciesluk, Houston, Texas
Suspense is over-rated
A while back I was sitting on the couch, watching Breaking Bad with someone I’m close to. The plotline was confusing, and after a moment he clicked off the show. “It was the wrong episode,” he said. By then it was too late. We had already seen the outcome. I told him he didn’t need to apologise, though. Now that I knew the ending, I could enjoy the show.
I had real affection for some of the show’s characters, and I wanted them to be OK – but had a sinking feeling that at least one wouldn’t be. When I got insight into who lived and who died, I could prepare myself and focus my attention on the survivors. Granted, they were fictional characters, and their fate was in the hands of the show’s creators – not mine – and I still cared about them.
Knowing how things turn out for characters helps. I don’t invest as much energy into the ones who are doomed (that seems like a sad, futile effort), and I can pay closer attention to the ones who remain since I can root for them till the very end of the series.
When it came to Netflix’s Russian Doll, I refused to watch until someone told me whether the character Nadia Vulvokov survives. It’s not just shows: I skip to the last page of novels, checking to see whether a relationship turns out OK, and prefer to re-read books I love – like Graham Greene’s The Quiet American – because I know what happens. Recently when a colleague was telling me about a new podcast, I interrupted to ask: does everyone survive? Once I know, I can pay attention to how the tale unfolds.
People say they hate spoilers, but I think suspense is over-rated. There is data that backs this up: one study shows most people would rather receive an electric shock than not know if one will be administered. In other words, people can endure just about anything – except uncertainty. That’s how I feel – in shows, books and life too.
There’s an old proverb: “Everything is going to be fine in the end. If it’s not, it’s not the end.” Sometimes things do not turn out OK. But at least if you know beforehand, you don’t have to watch the whole thing.
Tara McKelvey, BBC reporter, Washington DC