Westworld Steps up TV’s Spoiler Game

Every time you thought you figured it out, Westworld did you one better

Bernard, Theresa, and Dr. Ford in Westworld

According to a thorough (light skim) of the internet, and extensive research into Reddit comment boards (my Facebook newsfeed), often the most-hyped moments for fans of TV today turn out to be their biggest letdown. It seems that spoiler culture has run away with so much of the fun fans used to have as they would look forward to each new episode of their favorite program.

In a well-argued piece on TVGuide, Tim Surette masterfully identifies what makes Westworld stand out from the crowd:

There’s currently a debate going on about whether viewers who race to figure things out before the show can reveal them are watching TV the right way and if they’re spoiling the experience for everyone else. And the fact that Reddit nailed just about every reveal starting with Westworld‘s seventh episode (when Bernard was shown to be a robotic “host” all along) well before the series had a chance to show us almost became more logs on the fire for the “you’re watching TV wrong” side of the debate. I’m not here to make a case for either side. But here’s the thing: those episodes of Westworld were still great – even though many of us knew what was coming – because Westworld has figured out how to manage twists and secrets where other shows have not.

And Surette’s right. Spoilers abound on the internet in every format imaginable these days, and gone is the watercooler culture of olde. According to Dictionary.com, “Watercooler TV” originated around 1999-2001, right around the time a little show by the name of The Sopranos was catching on, so that every other conversation on a Monday morning involved a “Did you see when Tony did…?” moment. While I would later catch up on Sopranos (this year, in fact), my TV thinkpieces of 1999 consisted mostly of arguing with my fellow 4th graders which Rugrat we liked the most, and fervently asking “Did you see Kenan and Kel this weekend?”

But what Westworld has done, as Surette argues decisively and well, is push through, amidst the noise, and one-upped every theory with a gasp-worthy moment of its own. Bernard Lowe’s (Jeffrey Wright) a robot, just like you correctly predicted, you say? Never you mind – we’ll just have him murder Theresa Cullen (Sidse Babett Knudsen)! Predicted Bernarnold coming a mile away? Pffffffft – he’ll just be ordered to murder himself next! Westworld can’t stop the fans from theorizing around its every little nook and cranny, but it can forge its own path forward by determinedly upping the ante every time they think they knew what was coming next.

I think if Lost had come out today, we would all look at it similarly to Westworld in regards to its disdain for internet theorizing (and, to a large extent, Lost ushered in the age of the internet theory). Lost remains one of my favorite shows of all time, and series like Westworld wouldn’t exist without watercooler TV paving the way for it. Looking back on it, we can even see Westworld paying a very distant, yet nostalgic, homage to Lost by dubbing a central mysterious figure in its very own “man-in-black.” There are many more wonderful comparisons between the two shows, but that’s another article for another day.

Do you agree or disagree with TVGuide‘s verdict on the spoiler game? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

12 responses to “Westworld Steps up TV’s Spoiler Game”

  1. How did Westworld pay homage to “Lost” with the man in black? The man in black appeared in the movie Westworld back in the 1970s. Perhaps “Lost” was paying the homage. ?

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  2. You are perfectly right. I never did mind the spoilers. And as you are right in arguing, that there was always some additional twist to every major prediction, for me it was the beautifully filmed and the very intelligent way HOW they reached the points some of us may have already known. The dialogs, the acting, the philosophical and emotional depth of story told – was just amazing. Kind of an instant classic. And with those (the classics) you wouldn’t say “Spoiler” when somebody told you “hehe, this young dude is going to poison himself and his girlfriend will stab herself out of grief, I tell you, this won’t work out…” Just because he’s so proud to have figured out that violent delights have violent ends. 😉 So no, the spoilers didn’t spoil anything for me as the story was just to beautiful and well written.

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  3. Everyone had the choice to look online or not for ideas. Are they spoilers if they are just a collective thinkbox spitting out the best predictions? I saw no actual spoilers. Just good guesses.
    For me, I got bits and pieces enough to make sense. A lot of people just got confused by the timeline jumping until the end unless they got the idea in their head another way, especially casual watchers.
    I think if anything, Westworld is hitting a stride as “internet-inclusive” TV.

    Once I had a few nails through the plot to stick it in place (the multiple timeframes, MiB being William, namely) I actually found it much more enjoyable. Westworld is made to be discussed. For me it was less of “this is the whole plot” and more of looking at an unknown 6000 piece jigsaw puzzle in a pile and someone shows me a picture of what it’s supposed to look like. Fitting in the little pieces together myself was mentally gratifying.

    I guess I get a lot more pleasure from understanding something than I do being surprised by it.

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  4. OK… so probably heard the one about the trombonist who accidentally left his trombone on the back seat of his car overnight. In the morning he went out and found his car windows smashed, and there four more trombones on the back seat next to his!In the interest of hot pizza, I shall jest no more at trombonists’ expense. As a fan of jazz — and brass in general — I love the instrument.Cheers,Michael

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  5. J’avais la même réflexion que toi à propos de Naruto. Puis j’ai fini par m’y lancer et j’ai été étonnée qu’au final, c’était plutôt sympa. Bon par contre je déteste toujours par-dessus tout le personnage de Sasuke et je comprends vraiment pas pourquoi autant de groupies autour de ce personnage.

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