October 6, 2013

Nearly impossible to avoid TV spoilers these days

This week one of television’s great shows came to an end, as “Breaking Bad” broadcast its final episode.

To honor that brilliantly written and acted show about a chemistry teacher turned drug lord, I thought I might use this space to examine the pluses and minuses of using methamphetamine, the substance that made Walter White both great and terrible.

On the minus side, there would be addiction, financial woes, prison, meth mouth, irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, constipation and death.

On the plus side, there would be … tooth loss makes brushing much quicker each night. Meth keeps kids off more dangerous drugs, like cyanide, ricin, antifreeze and Turkish Delight. It gives the police something to do so they’re not bored. And there’s always the chance that it won’t kill you; sort of like playing the lottery.

That makes a short column, though, and frankly, taking a stance against drug use isn’t exactly controversial.

The finale of “Breaking Bad,” however, raised another problem — just as insidious — that is prevalent in countless households in this digital age: How to avoid spoilers when you’ve recorded a popular show.

These days, roughly 50 percent of U.S. homes have DVRs, which means that people can record their favorite shows and watch them at a more convenient time, fast-forwarding through commercials as they go.

I, for one, virtually never watch a show on live television, except for occasional sporting events. Nature, however, has developed a defense for this kind of behavior.

On the night of “Breaking Bad’s” climax I was watching a football game, figuring it would be harder to avoid the score of the game for 24 hours than it would be to avoid details of Walter White’s escapades.


When a show becomes a cultural phenomenon, it merits saturation coverage. Twitter explodes. Facebook breaks into a frenzy. All forms of media envelope it.

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