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Spoiling a spoiler manifesto

Spoiling a spoiler manifesto (photo)

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I’m in a weird position here. I’m publicly on record as someone who doesn’t mind spoilers. And generally, I really don’t. I have no problem with someone telling me the end of a movie I’m not planning on seeing (“No, please! Don’t spoil the end of “Hide and Seek!” I might casually flip past it on basic cable someday!”). To me, twelve years is enough time to talk freely about the major twist in the film whose image appears above (“He sees dead people. He sees dead people.”). And I believe strongly that writers should be able to write seriously and thoroughly about films and television shows; if that means they have to write about important elements of the plot, then so be it. If you are sensitive to these matters, then avoid articles by and conversations with people who are not.

And yet! An article I read yesterday infuriated me by revealing a spoiler of a show I’m currently watching. Either I’m a hypocrite (possible) or the writer of this piece crossed a line (also possible). Maybe it’s both. I’ll let you decide.

The article is entitled “Spoiler Alerts: A Manifesto” by Gawker‘s Brian Moylan. As someone with a fairly strong point of view on the subject of spoilers, I was curious when I saw the link pass through my Twitter feed. Here is how the piece begins:

“America loves having its movies and television shows recapped, reviewed, and regurgitated back to them, but the one thing that it hates more and more is having the events of those things spoiled by reviewers. It’s time for a guide on what constitutes a spoiler and what does not.”

I agree completely with that premise, and I’m fully on board with a manifesto. I love manifestos. They’re intense, hyperbolic, and full of utterly pointless outrage (kind of like the article you’re reading right now). So I continued, until I was slapped in the face by this whopper:

“The final straw for me was reading this review of the second season of [[SHOW REDACTED]] by Emily Nussbaum. She gives a spoiler alert to the [[SPOILER REDACTED]] at the end of season one. Yes, she spoiler-alerted something that happened more than a year ago, in a piece about the show’s almost-finished second season.”

Again, I agree with Moylan’s fundamental point: it’s sort of ridiculous that the author of a piece about the second season of a television show should have to go through the trouble to warn readers that they’re going to discuss plot details from that television show’s first season. To me, talking about something that happens at the end of season one of a TV show in an article about season four of that same TV show is not a spoiler.

But here’s the problem: Moylan himself wasn’t writing a piece about season four of a TV show, he was writing a general blog post about the concept of spoilers. In the process, he brazenly and intentionally ruined a major chunk of a series — that I have helpfully and rather exaggeratedly redacted — that I and others, I imagine, are currently catching up with on DVD.

He didn’t unleash this spoiler to further a complex argument about a work of art, either. He did it for shock value and to reinforce his larger point that there should be a statute of limitations on TV spoilers. According to him “Just like the TV networks get credit for everyone who watches a show on DVR a week after its initial airing, that is how long you should keep the details of a scripted television show a secret. One week.” Movies, he thinks, deserve longer and larger cones of silence. “Other than basic outlines of what happens in [a] movie,” Moylan says, “details of the ending shouldn’t be openly discussed until the movie is out on DVD.”

Here’s where we really disagree. And here’s why. Television shows are a much bigger time commitment than any one movie. A movie is ninety minutes. If you really think you’ve had a movie spoiled, just don’t watch it. Unless someone leans over to you twenty minutes into “The Usual Suspects” and tells you who Keyser Soze is, there’s no way to spoil “The Usual Suspects” once you’ve committed the time to watching it.

A television show, on the other hand, can be spoiled in the middle of a season. You can decide to watch something, invest hours upon hours of your life in it, and then have the very end of the experience ruined by, say, a dude suddenly and without warning telling you what’s coming three episodes down the road. Moylan says that “reviews of [a] movie should also avoid mentioning that there’s a surprise ending because knowing a shock is coming is like going up the hill on a roller coaster: You may not know how steep the hill is, but you’re waiting for it the whole time.” Exactly right, but it’s so much worse for television shows, where you can wait for that hill for six or eight or twelve hours. If you’ve put that much time into something, you deserve the full experience.

If I’d been stupid enough to click on an episode or season recap, that would be my own damn fault. But I didn’t. And for my curiosity, I learned a valuable lesson, though perhaps not the one I was supposed to learn. In the process of trying to prove why spoiler warnings are pointless and stupid, Moylan has reinforced the very reason why they can be important.

Do you care about spoilers? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.