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I’m Tired of Seeing Spoilers Online. Am I the Problem? Your Pressing TV Questions, Answered

Photo: CW, HBO

Welcome back to Stay Tuned, Vulture’s TV advice column. Each Wednesday, Margaret Lyons answers your questions about your various TV triumphs and woes. Need help? Have a theory? Want a recommendation? Submit a question! You can email, leave a comment, or tweet @margeincharge with the hashtag #staytuned.

I’m not a spoilers psycho; I’ve no sympathy for new Game of Thrones fans when the books have been out for over a decade. But lately I’m finding it impossible to avoid spoilers simply because I follow my favorite shows or media outlets on Twitter or Facebook. I avoid Twitter entirely during prime time now because it’s one big nonsensical live-tweet by actors promoting their shows. There’s definitely a “deal with it” culture associated with spoilers, and I’m prepared to accept the consequences when I encounter them, but am I sabotaging myself by following the shows and news outlets about which I’m enthusiastic? I’ll never stop following Inside Amy Schumer or Broad City (they are essentials, and the plot details are low-stakes), but how many times can I be burned by @The100Writers before I finally click “unfollow”?  —Ellen

Yes, you’re sabotaging yourself. If you don’t want to find out television news, don’t follow or visit publications dedicated to that. Don’t turn on ESPN if you don’t want to know the score. If you get seasick, don’t join the Navy.

I am not unsympathetic to your plight. I refuse to read the Game of Thrones books but am militant about avoiding spoilers for the TV shows. My spoilerphobia for the series includes a deep disinclination to Google things about the characters, lest it bring up book plots or information. So I get it. I, too, dislike being spoiled on things. But what I dislike even more are tacky headlines like “About THAT Scene on Switched at Birth” or “How the YOU KNOW WHAT from Mad Men Happened.” That’s not how anyone talks or thinks in real life, unless they don’t want the dog to know what’s being discussed. (I swear, that dog knows how to spell h-a-m.) Headlines are a vital part of an article, and writing a crappy, clickbait-y headline debases us all. Don’t write them, and especially don’t click on them. Just because it’s the internet doesn’t mean we can’t all have a little dignity here.

If you feel “burned” by a Twitter account, for the love of God, unfollow it. I unfollow and mute people probably every day. Who cares? I would so vastly prefer that people not follow me than follow me and make sure to complain constantly, or to follow me and remind me that they disagree with just about every assertion I’ve ever made, and remember that totally unrelated article a few years ago? Well, it has invalidated everything I’ve written since. (Those people get blocked. Sayonara.) Don’t follow people you don’t want to follow, and if someone clogs up your @-replies with boring thoughts, mute them and move on with your life. If somehow the content of what I tweet brings sadness to you, holy crap, please unfollow me. This is supposed to be fun, informative, or both. If it’s neither, move on.

What do you think of iZombie now that we’re a few weeks in? I L.O.V.E Veronica Mars … full stop. I love Party Down and wish it would come back for more. But iZombie just seems to be missing something. —Lucy

I like iZombie! I agree that it is not quite Veronica Mars or Party Down yet, but it has a very different to-do list than those shows: It’s a zombie show, a comic-book show, and a crime procedural. And for some reason, half the dudes are British. What’s missing from the series right now are fully interesting secondary and tertiary characters: There’s no one as intriguing as Weevil, or as vile as Dick Casablancas, or as vulnerable as Constance Carmell. I’m optimistic, though, because this is a pretty simple problem to fix, and one shows can solve just by naturally investing in their own stories.

Over the past several episodes of Jane the Virgin, I’ve come to the realization that my aggressively anti–Jane/Rafael status is making it hard for me to enjoy the show. There’s so much else to love, but the pairing rings so inauthentic that I’m on the verge of quitting between seasons. Regardless of whether they’re together or apart, I refuse to believe they’re destined for one another. I’m partially blinded by my love for Michael, but can you think of other examples where there was little wrong with a show other than its central pairing? It is a problem, right? —Josh

Wow, Josh, I hope you live near a world-class medical facility, because I assume there are doctors who’d be interested in studying you, the Wrongest Person in the World. Congratulations on this remarkable feat.

I tease, I tease: You speak for the Team Michael fan nation, and there are many of you. And I get it! I believed strongly in Mark and Callie as a couple on Grey’s and never bought either of them with their subsequent partners; sorry, but “Calzona” was a big pile of nothing to me, and Lexie was just the pits. I never liked Dr. Greene and Dr. Corday together on ER — he so clearly belonged with Susan. Ugh! I think Monica belonged with Richard instead of Chandler on Friends. I never got it with Pacey and Joey on Dawson’s Creek. In terms of more essential pairings, I have zero affection for Olivia and Fitz on Scandal— I think both of these characters could benefit from some serene get-to-know-your-own-self alone time, but also their relationship is just beyond messed up. So while you are completely off base re: Jane and Rafael, I feel you.

J&R are JTV’s central couple, but I don’t think their pairing is essential to the series: If you didn’t like Jane, that’d be one thing, but the show is about a lot more than a will-they-won’t-they with those two. I vote you stick with it. Maybe you’ll come around.

What’s “safe” to watch at the gym? Like, if someone takes a glance over my shoulder while I’m on the treadmill, they won’t be offended by what is on my screen (so no Sons of Anarchy, which I wouldn’t mind watching someday, just at home). I need something that will both keep my attention and keep me motivated so I’ll want to keep going back! My favorite shows are The Good Wife, anything by Aaron Sorkin, The Mindy Project, Homeland, Gilmore Girls, and Breaking Bad. Can you help? —Amanda

Friday Night Lights brings joy to all those who seek its wisdom, and I have to think some of those motivating speeches will motivate you on your quest for exercise. Buffy sounds like it would be in your wheelhouse, too. Anything on network TV is probably safe enough for the gym (except Hannibal, maybe?), so perhaps you’d like House? I’ve been thinking a lot about House recently, because even though it got a little flabby there at the end, there was a long time where that show was fantastic. Same goes for Gossip Girl. Aw, man, now I’m jealous that you’re going to get to watch Gossip Girl for the first time.

Is there a word for the ambivalence I feel when a show I like (usually sci-fi) gets renewed? I’m happy, but also know that I’ll end up dissatisfied that the show is dragging its story out, rather than giving a strong ending. —JJ


I’m Tired of Seeing Spoilers. Am I the Problem?