Google defines the term spoiler as a person or thing that spoils something. Most often your TV show.
We've happened upon a time in history when information is available literally everywhere - even when and where we're not looking for it. Highly anticipated television episodes airing on the East Coast leak across the country, like a melting tray of ice, to ruin moments for the West Coast folks. Live-tweeting and running commentaries give you news while you're watching news. And then there are webcasts and podcasts and Facebook, entertainment sites, and YouTube. Chances are, you'll never miss anything, even if you're trying to avoid it.
I'd like to take a few moments, though, to bring you back to a simpler time, a time of cube-shaped televisions and rabbit-eared antennae, a pre-digital era where primetime television episodes were events not to be missed. There was no social media, and there were definitely no spoilers. And if you missed an episode, you were pretty much out of luck until summer reruns.
There was something more sincere about that time, something more vulnerable, the knowing that we were all (or at least many of us) experiencing the same moments together. We talked about the moment the next day, in person. There was less reliance on shock value, virality, and special effects. The emphasis was on the acting. And, man, was it good.
So, if you'll allow me, I'd like to take you on a journey through some of the most memorable television moments of all-time, that remain, to this day, vastly untouched by the miracles of the digital world and social sharing.
Pilot Episode, Kevin and Winnie's First Kiss, 1988 (The Wonder Years, 1988-1993)
My memory of this scene, Daniel Stern providing the Stand By Me-flavored commentary, was bittersweet. I was a tween, before tweens even existed, and I remember the angst, the confusion, the sadness that revolved around Kevin and Winnie's first kiss. I remember sitting up in the dark that night, replaying that scene and When a Man Loves a Woman over and over in my head. In that moment, I felt a greater, if immature, understanding of the complexity of life and human emotions. And I've never forgotten this scene...
NEXT: Golden Girls Go Ultra Sensitive -->
Valentine's Day , 1989 (The Golden Girls, 1985-1992)
The Golden Girls is very special to me. It was one of those shows that transcended age and gender, a show I could enjoy with my parents, grandparents, or friends. I'd even go so far as to say it was one of the best sitcoms of all-time.
When I think of The Golden Girls, I think of only two scenes, the first of which was the time that Sophia (Estelle Getty) and Dorothy (Bea Arthur) dressed up as Sonny & Cher and sang I Got You, Babe. The second, and again, a scene I'll never forget, took place in a convenience store where the ladies awkwardly (and hilariously) purchased condoms for a Valentine's Day cruise.
NEXT: They'll be there for you when the rain starts to fall -->
The Last One, Final Episode of Friends, 2004 (Friends, 1994-2004)
I'll admit, I wasn't a rabid fan of Friends, but I did watch at the beginning, and periodically checked in as if they were all, you know, friends, throughout the series. I sang the theme song, I asked my hairdresser for The Rachel, I wore the brick-hued lipstick. I was an honorary member of the troupe. So, of course, I tuned in to see the final episode, one where I laughed and cried in the same breath, but ultimately knew the crew were moving onto new lives, and were all going to be okay.
NEXT: Dr. Mark Greene, R.I.P. -->
On The Beach, 2002 (ER, 1994-2009)
I don't know whether it's the lighting, or the music (dear LORD, the music!) or the fact that we traveled with these fine professionals from medical school through their trials and tribulations as ER physicians, but that multi-award winning television show (22 Emmys!) sticks with me to this day. In this scene, Dr. Greene, in Hawaii with his family, finally succumbs to his brain tumor. Spoiler Alert: Bring tissues!
NEXT: Rudy! -->
Happy Anniversary, 1985 (The Cosby Show, 1984-1992)
The Cosby Show was hilarious, intelligent, and revolutionary, all at the same time. There has never been a show like it, and there hasn't been one since. It was, like The Golden Girls, a series that could be enjoyed by adults and children alike. And never mind the sweaters! In this scene, the family prepares Ray Charles' Night and Day to make for one of the funniest, most unforgettable, and most heartfelt television scenes ever.
NEXT: Lost in a dream -->
Letting Go, 2010 (Lost, 2004-2010)
Now, maybe I'm cheating here a little, as this series is considered rather recent. I, however, did not get Twitter until 2010, so I basically have no idea what was going on there prior to. I would call this show, and this episode specifically, one of a dying, spoiler-free breed before the world switched to fiber optic and became fully digitally integrated. Sure, there were discussion boards, conspiracy theorists, and speculators of all shapes and sizes floating around in cyberspace, but you'd be a liar if you said you didn't talk about this episode at the watercooler the following day. I know I did.
What happened here? Did they die? Was it all a dream? Did they plan it this way? And what did all those numbers mean, anyway? I don't know, man. I don't know. But it was one of the best and last sacred moments in TV history. That's all I can say.
What are your most memorable TV moments from a time when every reaction wasn't shared immediately on Facebook or retweeted across time zones?
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