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Scott D. Pierce: Spoilers take all the fun out of watching TV

Published January 7, 2013 12:40 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The producers of "The Bachelor" are suing a "spoiler" website to prevent it from writing about episodes of the so-called "reality" show before they air.

It's easy to understand why the producers are unhappy with Steve Carbone, the guy behind RealitySteve.com. He posted summaries of the first five episodes of the new season of "The Bachelor" almost a month ago, complete with lists of the women who are eliminated each week. And that the new season of the show doesn't air until Monday, Jan. 7 (7 p.m., ABC/Channel 4).

If Carbone were wrong, the producers wouldn't care what he writes. Instead, because he has inside information, and they fear that viewers won't watch if they know what's going to happen.

Is it Carbone's fault someone giving him that information? The "Bachelor" producers argue it is. They dropped a previous lawsuit against him when he agreed he would not try to "induce" contestants to give up inside information. (In that settlement, he insisted he didn't offer pay as inducement.)

Now, "The Bachelor" producers are arguing that Carbone has broken that agreement, an allegation he strongly denies.

This clearly isn't the place for a legal judgment. But there's a matter of ethics involved, too.

Yes, it's pretty ridiculous to argue ethics when we're talking about "The Bachelor." It's a ridiculous show that's far more scripted than viewers are led to believe. But there is a certain lack of simple decency involved in spoiling a TV show.

Whatever we think of "The Bachelor," there are a lot of people who depend on it for their livelihoods. And they're not all raking in huge salaries — there are crew members who are just regular folks taking home a regular paycheck.

You can certainly argue that Carbone's extensive spoilers threaten their jobs. Even if it's not illegal, it's sort of sleazy.

These aren't after-the-fact episode summaries. They're not reviews.

It's one thing to describe a show. To tell readers whether it's good or bad. It's something entirely different to give away plot points.

Is the plot of an upcoming episode of a TV show, whether scripted or "reality," newsworthy? Nope. It's just destructive and mean-spirited to print information that clearly spoils the episodes.

What has never been adequately explained is why anyone who's a fan of "The Bachelor" would want to know what happens before an episode airs. That pretty much sucks all the entertainment value out of the show.

As far as I'm concerned, one of the best things a TV show can do is surprise you. Spoiling those surprises is just obnoxious.

And there's something weird about people who want to know what's in a show before they watch it.

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce. —

Spoiled — or not?

What do you think? Is it possible to spoil the outcome of "scripted" reality TV show, or do outcomes not really matter? If you're a TV watcher with an opinion about spoiler websites — love 'em or ignore 'em — drop a line to spierce@sltrib.com. He'll consider your comments for future columns.