Spoiler Culture and ITV Soap Operas: Has it Gone Too Far?

As I sit here, writing this out, I am frustrated. Beyond frustrated with the Robron Fandom and Emmerdale fandom in general.  Some might be surprised at this statement. Others might be nodding along with me.  Fandom is a polarizing culture that isn’t for the faint of heart. Sure, it sounds like a broad stroke especially when I haven’t met everyone in fandom but based on my experiences, the Robron fandom is not for the faint of heart. It is full of different ages, sexes, sexual orientations and opinions that should make it a diverse and exciting.  It is interesting until something comes up that divides the fandom. Then it becomes a battlefield of hurt feelings and angry people.

There are two ways this happens. I will be talking about the one no one seems to talk about out loud. Spoilers. Ah, spoilers. We can’t live with them and can’t live without them.  However, lately, especially with Emmerdale, I can live without them.  According to a Slate article, “ the word spoiler was most often used in reference to the King James Bible, where it means destroyer…” (Brogan, 2015).  Oddly enough, that is what it feels like whenever a spoiler drops in the Emmerdale fandom.

Usually, it happens on twitter and sets the Emmerdale world on fire. Sometimes it turns out to be true, a half-truth, some information is missing or is completely wrong (usually from Digital Spy Message Boards). Either way, I cannot escape it. People DM me wanting my opinion, which I’m fine with but usually before I can form an opinion or even deal with it myself.  I feel trapped into giving an opinion. Usually, I go the outraged route because I don’t have time to think things through. Then, a few hours later, I’m feeling a lot better about the spoilers. That seems to be a huge problem. Initial reactions make things seem worse than they are. Instead of taking things with a grain of salt, the fandom rather light their tiki torches and burn down ITV Studios.

I don’t work that way.

I might be on my own though. There is an actual study from 2011 that found that people like to be spoiled. The test subjects were given spoilers about a story and then were told to read the story. They found that people still enjoyed the story even though they were spoiled.  The study found, “…that plots are just excuses for great storytelling. It doesn’t matter that you know the course of a narrative because a story that’s compelling will always be compelling…” (Percival, 2011).

Does that apply to soap operas and their spoilers? I think it doesn’t. The spoiler culture seems to be a toxic place especially when it comes to Emmerdale.

Spoiler Culture and Soap Operas

I looked for spoiler culture and soap operas and didn’t come across any articles but came across a ton of opinions of spoiler culture that relate mostly to movies and nighttime dramas. Some thought it was in a person’s right to not be spoiled while others claimed there were time limits involved. Some even cried out that spoilers are just part of life and that we should all just get used to it.

With a soap opera that changes. Not only are there no real breaks but there are over twenty people on the cast list. Filming is quick, and the writing is even quicker.  The rules of spoiler’s change.  Just like twists on the show the spoilers come out just as quickly and furiously.  The spoilers aren’t after the fact but before causing a dilemma. Does one spoil oneself for a future episode or does someone stay in the dark? One should have the option to choose, but it never seems to happen. Spoilers run rampant and will find its way onto one’s Twitter or Tumblr feed.

The spoiler culture in soaps is hard to run from once you join the fandom. It becomes a way of life which makes things rough.  Especially when people are reacting so violently towards certain stories. Taking everything at face value making the show hard to watch or even feels hard to enjoy when something goes right on the show. (for instance, Nell’s twist was a lot of fun to watch, but Twitter complaining about it just drove some of that enthusiasm into the ground).  Fandom becomes a slave to spoilers, and that turns the fandom into an unhappy place. Even worse? Some people get upset if you aren’t upset enough about what is happening, not taking into account that people have different viewpoints on different storylines.

I have a personal theory that soaps and their twists were ruined by the internet. On the one hand, the internet brought soap fans together to talk about the show and speculate about future storylines.  It was fun to talk to someone with a different point of view than you. Then, on the other hand, people fall into groupthink, things are leaked way too early, and people take spoilers to an extreme. It makes it less fun to watch.

Lately, Emmerdale has been leaking like a sieve. Magazines had/have heavy duty sources, and people are sneaking onto the set and getting big important chunks of dialogue on camera for the whole internet to watch.  People who have access to spoilers have been spoiling whole months’ worth of story while interjecting their own opinions which confuses the average twitter user who comes across this phenomenon. Then the ‘spoilers’ that come out of message boards that end up being crap but stay in the fandom vernacular until the episode airs. Same with the Tumblr anons that share real and fake information pending on what is happening within the fandom.

This spoiler culture that has been created is toxic and can drive a person up a wall if they pay attention long enough.

I know I spent a long time talking about how toxic is can get but there is always a silver lining to this. Spoilers can be a good thing especially if one needs to prepare for a certain event or choice a character makes. Sometimes that time to prepare can make an episode easier to watch. Spoilers can be a good thing. A positive event that can bring a fandom together (a wedding, a reunion or a truth coming to light) having that spoiler helps raise the spirits of fandom that things are starting change.

While I currently find it hard to enjoy spoilers, there is a good side to spoilers and what they provide for fandom.

You Don’t Have to Read Them!

Now, I bet you are thinking. You can always ignore them. Unfollow. Move on with your life. However, it’s not that easy. It still shows up on Tumblr in questions on other people’s blogs or even my own. Twitter yells and repeats it even when you mute the person spreading the spoiler. It will find a way to get to me, and it became more of a nuisance than a helpful look at the future of the upcoming weeks.

I want the choice to be spoiled in this fandom. I like when people come to me with a choice to be spoiled. It has happened many times, and I am forever grateful for that choice. Then the choice to be spoiled is in my hands and mine alone. That is how it should be, but I know it never will.

What Now?

All I can do now is grow a thicker skin against the fandom freak outs that send me over the edge. All I can do is take each spoiler at face value and wait for the episode to air before making any true judgments. Understand how other people feel without sacrificing my own thoughts and opinions on a storyline.  One doesn’t always have to play nice. Spoilers can be helpful and give us some idea of what to prepare for but sometimes spoilers are toxic, and some people need to step back from the freakout and just watch the show. Hope for a better turn in the storyline or a better outlook for their favorite character. Sometimes, it’s easier to walk away from the computer till one is ready to come back. No one will judge. We all, including the show, will still be around.

What do you think? Spoilers ruining your fun or do you enjoy knowing what is coming on Emmerdale? Tell me below or tweet me @AmandaJ718! Until next time, enjoy your time watching Emmerdale and don’t worry about the future too much. Sometimes a fan just has to go with the flow.


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  1. You are a constant light of honesty when the fandom is being a hot mess. Thank you.

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