STYLE

With new Netflix shows, when is it safe to not worry about spoiler alerts?

05/15/2013 01:39 EDT | Updated 07/15/2013 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - Sandy Vasquez faces a bit of a dilemma on May 26 when new episodes of "Arrested Development" start streaming on Netflix.

As the founder of one of the show's most popular Internet fan sites, she's feeling some pressure to watch all 15 episodes as soon as possible and start posting screenshots and other content to her Tumblr blog.

But she's also cognizant that some of her regular readers won't be binge-viewing on the 26th and may want to visit Vasquez's site, The Bluth Company, without being bombarded by spoilers.

As a huge fan herself, she's not that keen on blitzing through the new episodes at lightning speed either.

"I'm still thinking about it but I kind of want to space it out a little bit, because it's like something special you've waited so many years to see," said Vasquez.

"You don't want to waste all the excitement and watch the entire thing in one day."

Vasquez asked her readers how worried they were about seeing spoilers and many suggested they needed as long as a month to catch up on the new "Arrested Development."

"But I'm sure someone's going to spoil it for me," she said.

The need to use spoiler alerts and exercise caution when talking about new Netflix shows is an issue, acknowledges CEO Reed Hastings, but he argues it's not really a new problem. Readers have similar challenges discussing a new novel if friends aren't reading at the same pace, he noted.

Netflix users just have to figure out how to carefully have spoiler-free conversations with their fellow TV and film fans, Hastings said.

"It does create new social norms, which the Internet constantly does," he said.

"There's 100 things like this where the new technology of on-demand Internet gives us new things we have to feel our way through."

Beau Willimon, who developed and produced the political drama "House of Cards" for Netflix, argues the popularity of catching up on shows with DVD box sets or digital viewing has already taught viewers how to avoid spoilers and also how to avoid ruining shows for others.

He believes the concept of TV fans talking around the proverbial water cooler is dead.

"This mythical water cooler discussion, I don't know where it is, that harkens back to maybe like the mid-'90s when people were having those discussions about a 'Friends' episode," Willimon said.

"The water cooler conversation died a while ago. We're not doing anything really new, honestly. People have been binge-watching for years now — ever since you had DVR, ever since you got on-demand, ever since you had box sets for TV shows — people have been choosing when they want to watch their content and more and more on what device, for half a decade or more."

He argues TV fans who make it a point to block out spoilers generally can do so, for years even, if they're lucky.

"If you want to avoid those sort of spoilers you find a way. There are people now who are just getting into 'The Wire' — that show's done, it has been for several years," Willimon said.

"And somehow they managed not to hear everything that happened in every scene."

— With files from Cassandra Szklarski

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