In July Aimie Cronin spent a maniacal week incessantly ruining TV shows for her nearest and dearest, and wrote it up hilariously. Spoiler alert: contains a very well-known Game of Thrones spoiler.
When someone has been told the ending of the show they are watching before they have watched it, their face looks like those guys on action shows who have taken an unexpected bullet. I’ve come to know that face well. Last week, I looked into the eyes of people I know, love and barely know and don’t love and I spoiled TV shows for them. I spoiled and I spoiled and I spoiled. They were thrilling times. I felt powerful, deranged. I was an ass. I did it as a finger to people who take too long watching the telly I want to talk about. I did it as a nod to the old days, when we there was only one shot at catching a TV show and missing it was a next level kind of hell. I did it for television! The kind we knew and loved! My relationships went dark for days, so I was kind of like a martyr, I guess.
I have never disliked my mum as much as the night she wouldn’t let me watch the final of The Flying Doctors. I was 10. I was sent to my room to think about my behavior and the persecution of sound from the TV set, just far enough away so that I couldn’t unravel it, was a grounding of the harshest kind. Kids these days know nothing of that kind of punishment. The outright horror of being sent to bed before a favourite show, of missing out. Today, there’s nothing to lose because there are so many chances to catch up, TV’s gone soft.
Remember the playground next day after a good episode of Friends? Everyone was talking about it and if you were sad enough to have missed out, tough titties, you were gonna get a blow by blow account. The night Ross and Rachel pashed to the soundtrack of U2, I was on the phone during ad breaks to analyse it with my friends. I remember literally taking notes in front of my favourite TV shows, so I didn’t leave anything out when debriefing the next day. Funny lines became sayings within friend groups (“Did I do that?” “No more soup for you!” “Eat my shorts” “It was the same day, David”). The kid who hadn’t seen last night’s show drew crowds because we’d fight over who got to recap, and then this happened and then this happened, to revel in being the most interesting thing they would listen to in the school day.
There was none of this, wait, I’ve got it on My Sky! or queued up On Demand! on bootleg! on the internet somewhere somehow! Fuck that. TV was fun because even if you watched something alone, it quickly became a conversation. It was a communal thing. Now we’re all sad sacks who block our ears when we hear the wordsBreaking Bad, because even though the show curtain-called in September 2013, it’s somehow reasonable to stifle conversations about the ending. People’s life choices have made conversations about shows a social taboo. Yeah, yeah, you’ve got five kids and a fulltime job and you’re too busy to keep up with current TV shows, whatever.
There’s no art to spoiling shows. You just go for it. For the first few, I spent most of the conversation feeling nervous about what was about to happen, but I soon got good at it. Only one of my victims walked out on me, the rest just blabbered with incredulity. Take the classic conversation with Josh, my 20 year-old brother.
ME: Have you finished watching The Wire?
Me: Oh, so you don’t know _____________ died in the final episode?
Me: (Repeats spoiler)
Josh: Why the fuck did you think it was a good idea to say that?
Josh: When someone says no they haven’t seen it, why does it entitle you to ruin it for them?
Me: (Nervous laughter)
Josh: I’ll quickly try and erase if from my memory … I, I was literally thinking last night, I can’t wait to watch The Wire again.
That one I did feel kind of bad about. The Wire is such a good show. The next day I spoiled a theme from Orange is the New Black and my friend Ange threatened to hang up on me.
Ange: “Ok, you don’t, you can’t just, say that. I haven’t got to that part.”
Again, the nervous laughter. I soon became childlike in my ruthlessness. I simply asked my victims what they were watching and shouted the spoiler out. If I didn’t know the show, I sometimes made the ending up, just to see the spoiled look on their faces and they all reminded me of Jon Snow, when he’s looking at that little shit Ollie, at the end of Game of Thrones. I decided to go large on this spoiler. There can’t be many people who don’t know what happens in the GOT final, I thought. I went to Facebook and updated my status to JON SNOW DIED. That one didn’t get many likes.
“Aimie noooooo u just ruined it!!!” wrote a friend.
Me: Whatevs you wouldda been all over that .
Friend: Nah I had no idea. Uv ruined it for me now (angry faced emoji).
Me: (Awkward faced emoji).
I went to bed feeling like a bad person and I asked my husband Paul if he thought I was. He said he didn’t, but he still had his spoiler coming. Next day, he’s reading on a bean bag, all relaxed and I come in and reel off the ending of Scandal.
Paul: How do you know?
Me: I just read the spoliers.
Paul: Good one (laughs) … good one… And…
Paul: Is it true?
Me: Do you think I made it up?
Paul: Yes, to gauge my reaction.
Me: No, I literally looked it up and spoiled it.
Paul: Why the fuck would you do that? Why would you do that?
I asked Google if lives had been lost over the spoiling of TV shows. Nothing came up. I contemplated a survey conducted by Netflix that said a large number of participants weren’t bothered by spoilers and that made me feel less guilty, though it wasn’t my experience. On I went. To the guy who makes my coffee (he smiled, but his words were acidic: “thanks a lot, Aimie”), to my friend who just got started on new season True Detective (“stop talking”), to a cousin (“you suck”), more friends (“why are you doing this to me?”), more brothers (“I’m out”). I ruined show after show like a reckless beast, Suits and NCIS and Girls. People walked away from me, stared me down, sipped their coffees in awkward silence. I confided in my husband towards the end of the week.
Me: I’m scared of the revenge.
Paul: Well you got yourself into this position. What were you expecting?
Then it happened. Like a total freak of nature, I had quietly, idiotically, through all faults of my own, due to poor life choices, failed to watch Breaking Bad through to its end. I’d seen all the classics, bar this. I kept my dirty secret quiet and managed to avoid all talk of it. I was driving through town with my brother Josh and he blabbermouthed the final episode like he’d be spoiling shows all week, like he was me.
Me: Why would you do that?
He actually thought I had seen it. I felt the hot remorse of beautiful TV viewing, ruined. I screamed and watched him, stoked on his revenge. I realised we are all spoilerphobics and his laugh rang out. To trash an ending is the wildest kind of fun.
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