The Television Spoiler Nuisance Rationale

Lisa Glebatis Perks, Noelle McElrath-Hart


This essay explores tensions surrounding television spoilers through interviews with 13 people who are paid to write or edit discourse about television. These professionals include television critics, editors, an entertainment reporter, a popular culture writer, and a television columnist. Analysis of interview transcripts revealed that varying attitudes toward television pleasure undergird the spoiler debate. After describing three divergent television pleasure attitudes, we present the second half of our analysis: interviewees’ statements about the timing of their publications, the content of their writing, and the packaging of their writing. Properly packaging articles so that readers need to “opt in” was the only area of consensus among interviewees. The essay describes proper packaging through a nuisance rationale framework, one that reduces spoiler exposure for those who wish to avoid it but keeps engaging commentary available for those who actively seek it. These findings shed light on how to negotiate communicative tensions stemming from evolving media engagement patterns.



television spoilers, television pleasure, time shifting, TV critics, active audience, social media

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