Season four, episode three, spoilers and how soon is too soon to reveal plot details

It was clever, but was it too soon? Many thought so.

“I wouldn’t even talk about it on the phone in the Uber this morning,” one fan of the show tweeted. “Spoilers should be respected for at least 24 hours IMO. Especially in this streaming era!”

But what even constitutes a spoiler? The LA Times obit is egregiously guilty, but what of all those tweets and push notifications like the one from USA Today reporting that “a major death” had just occurred? Given the story’s overall arc, it was fairly obvious who that would be, so that’s arguably a spoiler. By the same token, if the fact of Logan’s demise came as a surprise, what show have you been watching anyway?

Fisher Stevens, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong, and Sarah Snook star in Succession.

Fisher Stevens, Kieran Culkin, Jeremy Strong, and Sarah Snook star in Succession.Credit: Courtesy of Warner Media/HBO

Jesse Armstrong, the show’s creator, begged for maximum discretion in a note sent to media who were granted advance access to the first four episodes. He asked reviewers to “use your usual discretion not only in terms of not revealing specific events but also not signalling which episodes might be ‘big ones’, even cryptically or indirectly.” Sadly, he didn’t include an expiry time for that discretion, and some clocked it at zero.

One aggrieved fan tweeted “there should be grounds for HBO to sue” over the spoilers. But in truth, there is no contract here. We’re all making it up as we go along.


Once upon a time, a water cooler moment was genuinely that – everyone watched the show at the same time, the only time it was broadcast until it went into repeats years later, and then the next day in the office, on the building site, in the schoolyard, they talked about it.

But in the post-scheduled viewing world, we’re all watching when it suits us. Sometimes that’s as a show drops on a platform for the first time – and full credit to HBO and its broadcast partners for managing to make such moments feel momentous again – but often it’s not.

How much respect should be shown for that distortion of the time-viewing-space continuum? Personally, I think a little – 24 hours doesn’t seem outrageous to me, especially given the different time zones in which a show drops globally – but I reckon it cuts both ways.

All those individuals and media outlets feeling the competitive impulse to be first out with the news need to bear in mind the negative impact of blowing a key moment that people haven’t yet had a reasonable chance to engage with. That’s mostly about moderating picture choice, headline and placement to allow a small period of grace. Slap a great big SPOILER ALERT at the top of a suitably handled piece and you’re free to go.

But on the flipside, if you want to avoid knowing what’s happened, just stay away. No one is forcing you to go on Twitter or Facebook or TikTok or wherever you go to have your viewing experience cruelly spoiled. If you don’t want to know about this thing that everyone is talking about, there’s a simple enough way to manage that. Just. Stay. Away.

Think of it as mutual obligation. A little respect, a little consideration, and we’ll all get through this together. And if you can’t manage that … well, as Logan would say, just f— off.

Find more of the author’s work here. Email him at kquinn@theage.com.au, or follow him on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on Twitter @karlkwin.

Source link