Why are people so compelled to spoil THE WALKING DEAD for everyone?
I’m talking about across the board. Not just fans on Twitter or Facebook, but even in the way that online entertainment outlets tend to report on the latest episodes of the hit AMC series. Even the official AMC Twitter account retweets fan reactions after the East Coast feed, hence spoiling it for us that are in a different time zone!
Here’s the thing. I like THE WALKING DEAD. I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard fan, but as a zombie enthusiast, I’m just happy that we live in a time where a horror-themed zombie soap opera is the number one show on television. I bought every issue as they came out from #1 straight through to #50, because I was equally excited to see a zombie comic book, finally, in that format. So, I dig it. I know some of the basic things that are supposed to happen based on what I’ve read. And I finally got cable a few months back and managed to catch up on all episodes prior to Sunday night’s resumed regular schedule. And it still didn’t make any difference.
It was roughly 5:30PM PST when I happened to skim through my Instagram account and a friend had already posted a direct scan of an image directly from the comics that was finally adapted into this past week’s episode. It was still a good 3 hours away from airing here in California and I hadn’t read this event in the comics myself, so seeing it gave away a lot. A LOT. I didn’t know the context. Does this mean that character is dead? Point being – it was a douchey move for my friend to post this before the episode had even finished airing on the East Coast. I get it. The comics have been out there for years and the argument can be made for “well, it happened in the comics years ago, so it’s not a spoiler.” Great, but I didn’t read that far into the comics. And I’m willing to bet a huge fraction of the audience watching hasn’t read the comics either. I get you’re excited that they adapted it perfectly. But how would you feel, even if you were already well versed in the books to see that image hours before seeing the episode for yourself?
WARNING: In order to make my point about spoilers, there are spoilers ahead.
The episode aired on Sunday February 14th 9PM. Below are two posts. One from The Hollywood Reporter, which isn’t too, too bad. They interview Chandler Riggs about his “eye-opening shocker.” Very clever.
But the Entertainment Weekly one is unforgivable. And they’re notorious for doing this. “The Walking Dead’s Alexandra Breckenridge On Jessie’s Horrifying Moment” isn’t too revealing a title, but paired with the Facebook caption “Another One Bites The Dust” and the promise of an interview with this specific actress, you can only assume that that character is no longer on the show! Make note. It was posted at 7:44PM, an hour and 15 minutes before the episode aired on the West Coast. Entertainment Weekly? You should know better.
Once again, even more spoilers ahead. These were posted Monday morning at around 8am, meaning that if you had a job on Sunday night like some people do and didn’t have the time to watch the episode yet, these images would appear in your Facebook feed as soon as you woke up. And apparently it’s all your fault for not watching it as soon as you got home Sunday night instead of getting much earned sleep. (The one on the left is the one my friend posted to Instagram.)
So what is proper etiquette here? How long should someone wait until posting massive spoilers about the fates of characters on a show? That said, let’s look on it from the other side. I think it’s easy to forget just how huge THE WALKING DEAD really is. For us die-hard horror nerds, usually we tend to find and gravitate towards our own, so when a new horror movie comes along like IT FOLLOWS or THE WITCH, we’re kind of ingrained to want to tell our friends about it, but not spoil it for them. We want them to experience this cool new thing we just experienced. In that regard, most horror fans are actually rather considerate and awesome. But then there are those people that have no filter whatsoever. Maybe it’s just pure excitement? Maybe they don’t have a ton of horror fans to discuss this stuff with? I know personally after I watched the episode later that night, I jumped online to see if there were any fun articles about the episode and that’s when I was shocked by the titles of some, and by the time at which they were posted.
I have never experienced this sort of phenomenon with any other television show. Even something as big as BREAKING BAD, I managed to avoid major spoilers and thoroughly got to savor & enjoy the final season when it finally popped up on Netflix Instant. I’ve yet to jump on the GAME OF THRONES train and yet, I know next to nothing about that show. Maybe I just did a better job of ignoring the spoilers, but I don’t think that’s the case. People make it impossible to be a WALKING DEAD watcher.
THE WALKING DEAD has that special brand of fanatical viewer that just absolutely has to talk about it in graphic detail the second it’s over, despite whether you’ve seen it or not.
Maybe next time you’re about to post about how awesome it was that ______ totally killed _____, or that you can’t believe the zombies ate _____ this week, maybe do what I do? Text one of your best friends directly and ask, “hey, have you seen the latest WALKING DEAD yet?” And when they say “yep!” Commence in discussion.