This weekend at the ATX Festival, Netflix gathered a well-rounded array of panelists, ranging from show creators to actors to entertainment reporters, to discuss spoilers, the rise of spoiler culture and the effects that they have on the world of television.
Panelists included: Beau Willimon (House of Cards), Nick Wechsler (Revenge), Kerry Ehrin ( Bates Motel), Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), Tim Goodman (The Hollywood Reporter), Eric Pallotta (Netflix).
ATX Festival is meant to encompass television past, present and future, and since Netflix allows one watch just that, the partnership between the two seems natural and the panel that came from the pairing was extremely insightful and enlightening. The issue of spoilers is one that’s blossomed within recent years due to many different factors including, but not limited to, the rise of social media usage and the different nature of television today. Today’s programming requires more of a kind of active watching than programming of days past (Dukes of Hazard was repeatedly referenced when it came to past programming that didn’t require much thought from the viewer), and since it engages us more, we’re more inclined to want to talk about it with friends, family and other fans and social media has definitely been that bridge that allows us to do just that.
Although it’s hard to remain unspoiled in this day and age, Orange Is The New Black‘s Uzo Aduba (“Crazy Eyes”) brought up a good point, stating that people have begun to create a coded language on the internet so that they can still react to all of the spoiler-y moments without spoiling. This is where your “OMG” and “WTF” reactionary words come in, without giving away any clear details to the plot.
Interestingly enough, spoilers not only effect television from the viewer side, but also from the production side. House of Cards creator Beau Willimon gave a little insight into how everyone in production (including Netflix) were aware of the spoiler-y nature of season 2 of the show, so they went out of their way to shoot promos with (House of Cards Season 2 SPOILER ALERT!) Kate Mara and make it appear as if her character, Zoe, would make it through the entire season when in fact, production planned her demise from day one.
There are also unexpected moments that fans react to in shows that weren’t meant to be huge spoilers from the production side, yet are received as such. Bates Motel EP Kerry Ehrin gave the not-quite-motherly-not-quite-romantic kiss between Norman and Norma in the season 2 finale as an example, explaining that moment wasn’t a huge deal to keep secret from the production side, but the fan reaction essentially made it a spoiler.
Pre-spoiled shows like Game of Thrones, Bates Motel and Fargo, where the books or previous movies allow the audience to already be privy to where the story is going are also on the rise. In cases like those, producers aim for the audience – hoping the characters they feel they know so well don’t end up where we know they will. Basically they enjoy playing with our emotions.
Revenge‘s Nick Wechsler commented that he feels bad in interviews when he can’t give out much information because of spoiler-y plotlines and that, for an actor, it’s a weird skill to have to master. His thoughts on being on the receiving end of spoilers? “I wish people would just shut the f*ck up,” he laughed.
If you’re wondering where the line between teaser and spoiler lies, according to Kerry Ehrin, “A teaser is foreplay and a spoiler is sex.” Plain and simple.
Overall, the panel brought issues to light about spoilers that I hadn’t necessarily considered, but that I definitely understood once identified. If you watch a show that people are heavily invested in, do your part and don’t spoil for them on social media or elsewhere, and if you’re heavily invested in a show, then try your hardest to stay away from places online where you know you’ll be spoiled. Together we can remain spoiler free and maintain a pleasant viewing experience for all.
Netflix #SpoilerAlert Panel Gallery
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