The first instance of spoilers that I remember was back in the early 1980s. It wasn’t a spoiler as we know them today, but rather the weekly recaps posted in the afternoon paper.
In the Past
It usually arrived before Edge of Night would air in the late afternoon, and I’d get an inkling of what would happen in the Friday cliffhanger.
One such Friday, I grabbed the paper eagerly only to be devastated by what I read – they were killing off my favorite character, Nicole. I dreaded watching the episode and felt completely let down. I regretted knowing what I was about to watch, and from then on I waited until the show was over to read the paper.
Spoilers Through the Years
Soap opera magazines had to work ahead due to the delay with printing, so soap production offices accommodated by sending out information ahead of airing. But it was a double-edged sword. They gave them out, but they needed them to be vague.
“Bill Bell [Y&R’s head writer/senior executive producer] definitely wanted the viewer to learn about the surprise on air. But, as more and more magazines started popping up, they started to compete with each other, resulting in more being given away than I think the shows preferred,” shared Michael Maloney, Soap Hub contributor and author of the book, The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell.
It’s infinitely harder to keep any soap plot or casting change a secret now that shows like Days of Our Lives shoot so far in advance. For instance, DAYS fans have known for months that Jen Lilley (Theresa) is leaving the show in a few months. They also knew that Kate Mansi (ex-Abigail) was leaving, so when it came time for her exit, it wasn’t a surprise for anyone. Not that shocking surprises have to happen if there’s good storytelling, but it can certainly heighten enjoyment.
An informal poll of soap watchers and soap press alike came up with several recent moments people enjoyed that weren’t spoiled in advance. For The Bold and the Beautiful, there was Maya’s (Karla Mosley) big reveal as transgender, as well as learning of Quinn (Rena Sofer) and Eric’s (John McCook) affair. Ditto for General Hospital’s Laura (Genie Francis) and Kevin (Jon Lindstrom) pairing. Sage’s (Kelly Sullivan) death on The Young and the Restless surprised others while Days of Our Lives fans couldn’t believe that Hope (Kristian Alfonso) shot Stefano (Joseph Mascolo)–and he really appears to be dead this time.
One for the Books
Sometimes the magazines cooperate with shows to postpone publishing news to help the integrity of shocking developments. One such instance happened for legendary head writer Douglas Marland. On As the World Turns, Duncan (Michael Swan) received a call from airport security that there was an issue with his “wife.”
Worried about Jessica (Tamra Tunie), he rushed to her side only to be presented with his previous wife – Shannon (Margaret Reed). She was not only allegedly dead, but her supposed-shrunken head was used to taunt him by yet another former wife who was a bit of a psychopath. There had been no mention of Reed’s return and viewers and soap magazines alike went nuts over the shocking reveal and the fact ATWT pulled it off.
Let us know in the comments section what your thoughts are about spoilers and your favorite soap moment that surprised you.
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