‘House of Cards’ Spoilers: When Are We Allowed to Talk About That Huge Thing That Happened?

'House of Cards' Spoilers: When Are We Allowed to Talk About That Huge Thing That Happened?

A spoiler-free look at when a spoiler isn't a spoiler anymore

(Spoiler warning: While this story doesn't contain spoilers, it does disclose, right from the headline, that there are things to be spoiled. Sorry.)

No less than the president of the United States has asked us not to spoil anything about the second season of “House of Cards.”

But it might have helped if he'd set a time limit.

Also read: ‘House of Cards': Who Kevin Spacey Is Talking to When He Talks to the Camera

“No spoilers, please,” the commander-in-chief tweeted Friday, as the second season was released all at once. The executive order was necessary because with everyone watching at his or her own pace, only human decency dictates who reveals what to whom.

Some people already know (spoiler alert, kind of?) that something big happens in the first episode. Some people just found out. Sorry.

Or are we sorry? There's a case to be made that anyone who cares about “House of Cards” could have reasonably managed to watch at least the first episode over the long President's Day weekend. It's not up to the entire Internet to protect you. Do spoilers expire after a week? A month? A season?

Also read: ‘House of Cards': Are These People Evil? Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright Tell Us

Some online outlets didn't even wait a few hours.

Hollywood Life ran a headline by 11:29 a.m. ET Friday not only saying what happened generally, but saying in online search terms what happened exactly. Any West Coasters who groggily saw the story at 8:29 PT got a big secret spoiled. And with all due respect to Hollywood Life, the site's description of the event didn't exactly capture the power of the moment on the show.

Slate dropped a big hint in another Friday morning headline. The top of the story said “MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT,” but if you saw the headline, you had a guess what was coming.

Also read: ‘House of Cards’ Review: How Do You Raise the Stakes From Murder? Like This

Yes, Slate and Hollywood Life will have an advantage in the search term fight when people begin Googling specifics. But is it worth it?

Netflix did a remarkably good job of locking down the big secret until Friday, requiring TV critics to sign extremely detailed waivers. It worked. No one ruined anything.

But now that the show is out in the world, be careful who you talk to or follow on Twitter. As “Portlandia” once illustrated, our watch-what-you-want-when-you-want landscape means everyone is watching everything at different times. To have a conversation about TV, you need to start by having everyone tell you every episode of every show they've ever seen.

Also read: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright Open to Much More ‘House of Cards’

I overheard the following too-loud conversation in a coffee shop last night:

Lady: I'm watching “House of Cards.”

Guy: No spoilers!

Lady: I won't. Especially about the first episode.

Guy: But now you've already changed my viewing experience by making me anticipate something big in the first episode.

She also dropped a minor spoiler on anyone within earshot. Is it okay to interrupt a strangers’ conversation to say, “Excuse me — no spoilers”?

Maybe the solution is for all of us to bunker down and watch TV in isolation, not sharing any thoughts with anyone. But that doesn't sound like much fun, does it?

Also, President Obama: Can we talk about the Red Wedding yet?

Watch the “Portlandia” spoilers sketch:

  • AndyWarhorse

    I'm not spoiling anything by saying season two ain't season one. And I don't think there's any reason to do a season 3. What would it be, the Intergalactic Empire?

  • Guest

    Having seen the British version this series is based on .. yes, there is a reason to have a Season 3. I did not think they would have been able to pull off the ending as it was in the original but they did. I refuse to give spoilers except for one thing … there only one direction left.

  • http://almostreadytogoamish.blogspot.com/ Johnny

    I'm still waiting for Spacey to apologize for being in “Superman Returns”…

  • tim.molloy

    Not kidding, in the comments, “no spoilers, please!”

  • Frank Dracman

    NO! Absolutely not! You are NEVER allowed to talk about what happened! There are all those people (like myself) who haven't signed up for Netflix or rented the dvd yet and WE don't want it spoiled! With the multitude of tv that's worth watching, it isn't always possible to watch the latest and greatest when it premieres. I still have 50 episodes of Breaking Bad to get through. So, PLEASE, hold your tongues!

    • LaSargenta

      May I buy you a lifetime's supply of ear plugs? ;-)

      • Frank Dracman

        Since I do use them when I sleep, yes, go right ahead! But I think what you meant was a sensory deprivation tank, which is the ONLY way to avoid this plague of spilling the beans! Thanks for the offer…you can send them me at dracman@idontwannabebothered.net!