TiVo killed the water cooler star

“Hey, d’ja see Lost last night?”

“Got it on DVR. Don’t tell me anything.”

“Oh.”

End of discussion.

Repeat the same scene for every buzz-worthy series running on television. The only thing now missing is the buzz itself. It was born at the water cooler, or on the message boards, or anywhere else viewers gather to salivate over the events of the preceding evening.

Nowadays, you don’t want to kill someone else’s potential buzz for an episode with a spoiler or by dangling a tease for an event they haven’t seen yet, so you kill your own buzz instead. Well, you don’t actually ‘kill,’ it. More like you put it away for a future discussion with that person when they’ve seen the same episode. But by that time, of course, the bloom is off the rose, your buzz has faded. They may still be excited, but the full potential for buzz is gone. Your attitude is now, “been there, done that.” You’ve already watched the next three or four shows that you can’t talk about.

There’s a way out of this mess, of course. It demands great courage and sacrifice. You will risk alienating everyone you ever talked with about a show. Well, actually, you’re going to piss them off … royally. But some things just have to be done to save us all.

Go ahead and spill the beans.

“Can you believe they actually killed Jack Bauer off on 24 last night?!”

Don’t even wait to find out whether they TiVo’ed  or DVR-ed the show or not. Twitters tweet your tattletale.

“Those obnoxious ex-cheerleaders were eliminated on The Amazing Race last night.  How sweet is that?”

Go ahead and toss that grenade.

“Omigod, how awesome was that Battlestar Galactica finale where they ended up …in EARTH’S past!”

Take no prisoners.

“Don and Betty Draper die in a car crash together on the way to Woodstock trying to rekindle their marriage! How fucked up a finale is that?”

Shoot to kill.

The only thing you risk rubbing out is TiVo itself.

Sure, everybody will soon run the other way before your jaw opens – but only if they DVR-ed the show instead of actually watching it. And if you use the media message boards, there’s nowhere for them to run or hide. They won’t even be able to visit a related site. They will have to hide from all personal, online and media contact like a culturally-starved pariah. And, eventually, your friends, co-workers, and fellow message boarders will come to realize that the only way they can possibly continue to participate in our society at all … is to watch the damn show the first night it’s on.

And once we’ve carefully re-programmed everyone to behave that way again, you will be able to blurt out any spoiler you want at the water cooler or online, and get an equal burst of raw excitement and shared energy in return.

The buzz will be back.

— A. Wayne Carter

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply