After Vulture published Kathryn VanArendonk’s essay on, ahem, a major development in Succession’s third episode this season, she got multiple emails from angry readers. One wrote that they were Googling to find out what time the show was on and Kathryn’s review revealed a spoiler in the headline. The message concluded with a middle-finger emoji. Kathryn told me she feels for these readers, but fellow critic Jen Chaney has less sympathy. “Why don’t you know what time Succession is on if you care that much about the show? Why are you Googling it in episode three?” Jen has watched the episode three times, and even knowing that Logan Roy dies, she still enjoyed the dynamics of what happened, the writing, and the acting. Which brings us to the central theme of this episode, as stated by Jen: “Consider that what happens in the show is not necessarily the most important thing or the most enjoyable thing, and that there’s so much more to get out of the experience that cannot possibly be spoiled for you by anyone else.”
Jen and Kathryn share their personal philosophies on spoilers as well as Vulture’s general guidance. They trace the evolution of the spoiler from Charles Dickens to the current moment, when spoilers feel almost personal. “The spoiler feels like the moment where your bubble was pierced,” says Kathryn. “Somebody else’s viewing experience interjected into your tiny little algorithmic bubble.” Together, they come up with some commandments of spoiler etiquette for entertainment writers and viewers in 2023, which include: Don’t publish before an episode has aired, use best practices in headlines, turn off your notifications and put down your phone, and stop watching just for plot developments. For more of our commandments, listen to the full episode here and subscribe below.