I am the ideal Netflix customer. When it comes to TV shows I’m into, my thing is to go big or go home. This means I wait till the season ends. I wait for what feels like forever. (Quite a few shows I follow have thirteen episodes at most, so ten to thirteen weeks, but really, forever.) Then when the season ends and all the episodes are available, I ensure I’m fully hydrated, there’s food stockpiled – Cheetos counts, right? – and go incommunicado for a whole weekend, emerging for air only after everything is done. I devour a TV show the way Galactus devours worlds.
I remember the exact moment I became a TV binger. It was noontime on a weekday and I was working nights. In an attempt to get in a little viewing before bed time, I’d just popped in the first season of Prison Break. Six hours later, a part of my brain was begging me to stop and get some sleep while the other part held my eyeballs hostage, rendering me almost incapable of blinking. After each hour-long episode ended, I would try to convince myself to sleep, but no. Just. One. More. Episode. Impulse control had gone right out the window, succumbing to the siren call of a well-written, tautly-paced TV show built to suck you in and spit you out at the end of a number of episodes, wanting more. I never did get much sleep and I ended up dragging myself to work glassy-eyed, nerve endings on the fritz. I don’t remember how I got through the rest of that shift.
Spoilers are a tricky thing to us TV bingers. I’ve had an aversion to them ever since a friend told me Dumbledore dies in Book 6 just as I was getting ready to read it. Unforgivable. Some people like to share what happens at the end of the Sixth Sense. I don’t believe in spoiling the experience for someone else, which is why I no longer speak to she who must not be named. (I’m kidding. Occasional stink-eye aside, we’re still friends.)
So how, in the age of instant information, can one avoid all the spoilers? It’s very simple. Simply avert your eyes and scroll past rapidly at the mention of anything slightly related to said TV show – even pictures themselves can be spoilers. Train yourself to quickly scroll past anything resembling a furry black cape, zombies, Highclere Castle, bottles of Coca-Cola, orange biohazard jumpsuits, golden wigs. Stare at blank space until the picture or text is no more. I’ve gotten so good, I can tell what show it is just by the first third of a photo. I’ve even considered using the internet only for banking, weather updates and Google maps but this is almost impossible to maintain.
Sometimes things fall through the cracks, like a super excited fan blabbing spoilers on social media or a magazine cover proclaiming to all and sundry that our favourite Commander of the Night’s Watch does, in fact, survive his night of the long knives. (Just couldn’t help yourselves could you, Entertainment Weekly?) In their defense, we all saw that coming anyway. And no, this does not count as a Game of Thrones spoiler, the latest season ended two weeks ago, the resurrection happened in April and everyone knows.
So at long last, after seemingly endless weeks spent avoiding the internet, I spent the Canada Day long weekend blazing through the latest season of Game of Thrones. Because the series has now gone “off-book,” this season held a special allure for me. This was the year avoiding GoT spoilers really became an obsession; I wanted the shock, I wanted the awe and by the seven, I got what I wanted and more. Some things really are worth the wait and this is exactly why I binge: there’s only so many cliffhangers I can take. I always need to know what happens next, and right now next April seems so far away.