WARNING HERE THAR BE DRAGONS AND GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS.
I don’t know which is more common in my social timelines at the mo: people talking about the Game of Thrones penultimate season finale…or people complaining about spoilers about the Game of Thrones penultimate season finale.
I’m sympathetic to the latter. I made the mistake of watching the Mets game instead of GoT a few Sundays ago (a mistake in so many ways) only to see my TL explode with HOLY SHIT DRAGON FIRE! Yes, I had missed the Battle of the Loot Train live (I had to watch it on Monday for various reasons) and missed the holy shit moment of Daenerys going “dracarys” on Cersei’s troops. Chastened, I vowed that I would never make that mistake ever again for the 10 remaining GoTs episodes.
But while I’m sympathetic, the complainers need to understand that today’s spoilers are not like yesterday’s spoilers. In the olden days, ruining someone’s potential enjoyment of a story was considered rude or even bullying. A satisfying story with a powerful denouement was such a rare and precious thing that allowing others to experience it first hand was just considered being a good, well-mannered person.
But as with many things in the social media era, that is no longer the case. It’s every tweeter for themself in this free for all. The need to express oneself about Arya and Sansa deciding to kick Bran out of Winterfell supersedes any manners or consideration. And they have a point.
Plus. in the sucking black hole of the need for headlines on the internet, five seconds after any “event” TV ends, my email fills up with headlines from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline, not to mention Vulture, Mashable and every other outlet on earth, with “GoT Directors explain why the Mountain had to kill Jaime in combat.”
“Kit Harrington on his reaction when Daenerys said he was lousy in bed,”
Do you avoid social media fearing spoilers on the hurricane or election results, waiting until you can get home and watch Rachel Maddow?
I didn’t think so.
What the avoiders need to understand is that “appointment TV” is one of the very, very few things that brings us together. Not as a nation, but as a world. From Delhi to Havana to Siberia everyone is downloading Game of Thrones and watching it. HBO wants everyone to watch it live, to give it the impact of a Mayweather vs MacGregor championship bout. They purposely encourage spoiler coverage the second a show ends for that very reason.
And I know people have lives and do other things, but where Game of Thrones is concerned – and maybe The Walking Dead, although that’s fading – you need to plan your life/night around the show. That’s how it is.
To bring it back to the Mets again, as horrific as they have been this season, there is still nothing I like better than listening to Gary, Keith and Ron while I work or play Diablo or eat dinner. If I’m out for an hour or so, I’ll even watch a game on delay.
And here’s where it gets tricky.
WHILE WATCHING A METS GAME ON DELAY I DO NOT READ NEWS STORIES ABOUT THE GAME OR GO ON METS TWITTER.
Crazy huh? Granted, avoiding Mets scores is easier than avoiding Viserion’s tea party spoilers by a factor of about a thousand.
But if you want to experience this as a shared part of your humanity – you need to make an appointment and do that viewing.
I have a few good friends who have never seen Game of Thrones. I think they assumed that a high fantasy of swords and dragons wouldn’t appeal to them, little knowing the chainmail was just a camouflage for a story about zombies, rape, incest, castration and old fashioned intrigue. I’m sorry to tell them, they’ll never catch up. The excitement of a show like GOT is best experienced live. For instance, I never watched The Sopranos or Mad Men (I prefer chainmail and dragons, you see) and although I think about bingeing them someday, I doubt it will be as fun as it was while it was live. I missed out on Westworld, too, I’d avoided spoilers, but then overheard some guy mansplaining the twist on the street. Oops. No place is safe.
There are still some good shows to get in on before it goes nuclear. I’d recommend Better Call Saul or Legion if it returns. Or… maybe not too late for Westworld season 2? Put your own picks in the comments.
In this era of Peak TV getting a massive hit like Game of Thrones is next to impossible. The audience is so fragmented and dispersed. Will it ever happen again? I can’t even say that. In the past people came together over M*A*S*H or Cheers or Roots or Twin Peaks.
Speaking of Twin Peaks, no one cared about it once GoT returned but next week is the finale, so if you don’t want it spoiled, either
a) make a plan to watch it while it’s on.
b) STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA UNTIL YOU CAN WATCH IT. This may take some discipline, but you can’t say you weren’t warned.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.