ATX: #SpoilerAlert! A Discussion About Spoilers Ahead

Austin Television Experience (Photo: atxfestival.com)
Austin Television Experience (Photo: atxfestival.com)

Tread lightly, Austin Television Experience visitors: there be spoilers ahead. Let’s talk about them!

The Blurb

While TV viewing evolves so does our appetite for spoilers. Come be part of a discussion about how spoilers affect how we consume television. Moderated by cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken, panelists will include individuals who work across the entertainment world.

The Panelists

  • Uzo Aduba, Suzanne/”Crazy Eyes” from Orange is the New Black
  • Beau Willimon, writer/developer for House of Cards
  • Nick Wechsler, Jack from Revenge
  • Kerry Ehrin, writer/producer on Bates Motel
  • Tim Goodman, TV critic from the Hollywood Reporter
  • Eric Pallotta, social media analyst at Netflix

The Panel

The presentation opened with a video from Netflix highlighting the history of television quality from the 1950s to today, including Netwon Minnow’s “vast wasteland” quote and the disruption brought about by cable and new media. Part of that disruption includes social media, specifically the OMG/WTF tweets that happen every Sunday on Game of Thrones or, as was the case this February, about 37 minutes into the first episode of the second season of House of Cards.

Aduba and Pallotta discussed the conversation methods happening on social media, particularly the evolution of coded language and spoiler etiquette, with other panelists adding their personal experiences with online versus offline social interactions. Interestingly, the online discussions seem to be easier to navigate with the use of subtweets and creating conversation venues in Facebook comments, while interactions with friends or in interviews tend to be minefields. Wechsler summarized this point best when discussing fan/interview interactions: “it’s important that you’re asking. It’s not important that I tell you.”

The other major takeaway from this panel was the concept that we now live in era where shows have endings. As a result, serialized television has taken on more of the sense of reading a book, with each chapter building to a defined conclusion. Combined with successful series ending on their own terms (usually), it is almost required to watch in order without skipping ahead. Willimon summed up the concept with this spoiler: “we’re all gonna die.”

The Experience

We got ice cream! And a fantastic discussion with panelists from all walks of television. Also, this panel had a “stars: they’re just like US” quality: They live-tweet shows! They don’t want their watching experience compromised! Or, as Wechsler said, “I wish people would just shut the fuck up.” Though not necessarily an informative panel, it was entertaining.

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles

Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it “TV Camp.” After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv