I have an embarrassing confession to make. I haven’t watched the TV shows the whole country is united in discussing. Game of Thrones, nope. Mad Men, nope. Breaking Bad- ha ha, no way. This is a shocking revelation for someone who prides herself in being a TV nerd. How could someone who’s spent most of her life obsessing about TV shows miss such good TV? I can blame school all I want for interrupting my flow in TV watching. However, it’s been four years since graduation, so I’ve had plenty of time to catch up on shows.
I’ve missed a lot of good shows besides the aforementioned. I haven’t even started half the popular ones on Netflix (House of Cards, Jessica Jones, Grace and Frankie). The only popular ones I’ve watched have been Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and Fuller House.
So how do I get caught up on the long list of shows to watch? I don’t have to watch all these shows. However, if I want to maintain my status as a true TV nerd, I need to start watching the shows that have become an important part of not just the TV landscape but also the national conversation/social conscience.
I’ve listed below some tactics I’ve identified to help not just me but others in the same predicament. Time is short for everyone, so finding time to watch all these good shows nowadays isn’t easy. I hope these tips will help.
“Must Catch up TV” nights
I lump in all my TV shows into one night for watching. Usually that’s Friday for me (I know, I should be going out but I’m a grandma at heart that likes staying in at times). This allows me the freedom to do other things the other days while getting in all the shows. So on Friday nights, a typical TV schedule for me has been The West Wing (I’m 20 years behind in my TV watching apparently) and Call The Midwife. If you have more energy than I do (see, I told you I was a grandma), you could probably fit in more.
Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
There are a lot of great TV Shows out there, but given that we all have actual lives to live (aside from sitting on our couch), we realistically can’t watch every single thing someone recommends or is popular. This means having to cut down your “to- watch” list from 20 plus shows to a narrow set based on your interests. My list, to be honest, contains at least 10, and that’s even too much for me.
I’ve recently realized that I just need to focus on the ones that meet two criteria: I have an actual interest in the plot line and I have heard the show get critical and fan praise . This latter point doesn’t define all my tv watching (I watch plenty of shows that I doubt anyone would call “quality”). Rather, it matches part of my TV watching that is interested in “being in the know.” You similarly have to find your own TV criteria and filter shows to that level.
Optimize your TV watching: eliminate or reduce watching re-runs
This tactic is a little harder to implement for someone like me. I love re-watching shows or re-runs from shows in the 70s-90s. They remind me of my childhood/simpler times and thereby bring me both happiness and comfort. My dependency on re-runs/re-watches, however, takes away critical time from other TV watching. Realistically, I only have four hours between when I come home from work and when I really need to get to bed (if you didn’t think I was a grandmother by now, you really should at this point). In those four hours, I want to work out, eat, and read. I only have a small amount of time to watch TV then.
Rather than watching re-runs, I could then watch shows on my list, e.g. Jane the Virgin (I’m way behind on this) or Catastrophe (I hear about this show all the time). I know, it’s hard to break away completely from shows that already have a built in guarantee for happiness. It will be worth it in the end though to find even more interesting shows.
Airplanes are not just for flying..
Let’s face it – reading and sleeping aren’t always easy to come by on a plane. You have to contend with crying babies and uncomfortable chairs. By allowing its users to download episodes for offline viewing, Netflix really understood a pain point for its customers stuck on long-flights with nothing to do. Make use of this awesome feature and download episodes beforehand to watch on your flight. If you don’t have Netflix, buy an episode or two off iTunes or Amazon. It will be worth the money to make your flight go by quickly.
Host a TV watching party
As a kid, TiVo wasn’t on the scene and the public could only watch TV on the actual TV. I also only had a limited number of VCR tapes (and a VCR with issues) to record episodes. Thus, every Friday night, I debated whether I should hang out with friends or catch my favorite show. Let’s face it – if you missed the episode, it would be months (if even at all) before the network aired it again.
Nowadays, I’ve become more of a social person and value company over TV (I swear, I didn’t become like this because I know I have a backup plan for recording). I’ve actually run into the opposite issues these days. I want to spend time with others and get out the house. I just often struggle to figure out where I feel like going.
Hosting a TV party then resolves both the socializing and catching up on episodes needs. You get to hang out with your friends and enjoy real life conversations AND absorb yourself into your TV shows. A win-win situation.