matthew macfadyen (left) and dagmara dominczyk (right) in succession season 4

Macall B. Polay/HBO

‘Succession’ brings back the never-ending spoiler culture debate

The latest episode is at the center of yet another debate on spoiler culture.

 

Michelle Jaworski

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Analysis

For the past four seasons, Succession has flourished on its horrible yet compelling characters we can’t help but empathize with, impeccable writing and direction, and big performances that continue to surprise us. 

In “Connor’s Wedding,” the show’s most recent episode, all of that culminated into a masterful feat that fundamentally alters the rest of the series, which is at the center of yet another debate on spoiler culture.

It started days before “Connor’s Wedding” aired when critics cryptically suggested that people should watch it live. People freaked out as it aired. In the immediate aftermath, as prescheduled postmortem interviews varying degrees of caution in the headlines were published, thus emerged complaints about people and publications spoiling the Big Thing before everyone could watch. And then arrived the other side of the spoiler culture coin: If you can’t watch [Insert Show] live, don’t go online until you do. (Bingeable seasons make this argument more complicated.)

I’m a recent Succession convert, but I couldn’t watch the new episode until Monday night because of Easter travels. My Succession group chat warned me to stay offline until I watched. (Your vague tweets are never as ambiguous as you think.) I parsed some of it on my own, but the execution, the performances, and the rebuke of TV conventional wisdom were stunning enough to negate the loss of surprise. Once you learn what went into creating this episode, it’s even more astounding.

Over the past decade, spoiler culture has been all over the place. I saw book readers mostly keep the Red Wedding reveal in Game of Thrones under wraps (some of it for Schadenfreude purposes) but hinting revealed the gambit on the Purple Wedding. Nowadays, Marvel’s cameo currency means casting is a spoiler. But I’ve also seen how spoiling myself on things like Game of Thrones’ final seasons and The Rise of Skywalker made swallowing terrible choices a little easier. Muting works to a point, but that depends on whether Twitter functions that day—a total crapshoot.

I’m not alone in thinking the execution mattered more than the spoiler itself. It’d be nice for people to tweet at your pace, but it’s unrealistic, especially if you’re catching up on a much older show. But Alyssa Keiko offers a pragmatic lens: “my rule about spoilers is not to directly enter anyone’s mentions or texts with spoilers and everything else is up to their mute buttons and god’s will.”

Why it matters

If you still had any doubt that watercooler TV isn’t dead—and shows like The Last of Us, House of the Dragon, and The White Lotus didn’t convince you—let the nonstop dissection of the Big Thing on Succession disprove you of that notion.

Michelle Jaworski

Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and TV/film critic at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has covered everything from the Sundance Film Festival, NYFF, and Tribeca to New York Comic Con and Con of Thrones. She is based in Brooklyn.

 
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