11:00 am EDT, September 10, 2014

How to prepare for the fall TV season

Forget the holiday season. The fall TV season is the busiest (and most wonderful) time of the year. To save you (and ourselves) from going crazy and becoming completely overwhelmed, we’ve come up with a few pointers on how to prepare for it.

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Finish up your random binge-watching

Xena: Warrior Princess

It’s hard to watch anything other than what’s currently airing during the fall TV season. And by “hard,” we mean almost impossible, especially if you’re watching upwards of 15-20 shows a week like we are. So, if you’re rewatching one of your favorite shows or watching a series for the first time (like this writer is with Xena), then we suggest trying to finish that up as fast as you can before the season starts.

That is, unless you’re participating in our ReWatchable podcast series with us because we (and those shows) are totally worth it.

Binge-watch the previous seasons of your top three favorite shows…

Binge-watch shows

Want to re-live the last season in preparation and anticipation of the upcoming next season? Can’t remember minute details that could very well be important in the plotlines to come? Then you should binge-watch previous seasons of your favorite show(s). Have too many favorites and not enough to binge-watch them before the shows pick up again? Choose your top three shows or so and maybe just do the most recent season of each. Start there and then see what kind of time you have.

In an ideal world, if you’re at school or work all day, you should have at least four hours at night to devote to binge-watching. So, if you’re watching hour-long dramas, you can knock a season out in a week (or less, depending if you’re watching with commercials)!

Remember not to stress out too much if you can’t finish your binge-watching. The most recent episodes will be the ones you remember best anyway!

Do a re-watch on Netflix

In case you don’t know where to turn to binge-watch your top 3 shows, our favorite instant streaming service offers past seasons of many shows. Do a re-watch of the complete series or just refresh yourself on the most recent season’s finale so you’re prepared for the upcoming season’s kickoff!

…And then Wikipedia the rest

Arrow Felicity computer

This isn’t school. You won’t be penalized in the slightest bit for using Wikipedia to remember what happened on your favorite show last season. If all you need is a quick, surface refresher of what happened last season, Wikipedia is definitely the place to go. It shouldn’t take much to jog your memory.

We like to think of it this way: Wikipedia articles for things like movies and TV shows are probably going to be the most accurate pages on Wikipedia because they’re most likely maintained by fans. So, you’re bound to get the most accurate synopses and details, especially if the show is returning soon because said fans will be policing the articles. At least, that’s the logic we live by for things like this.

Know what you like and don’t be afraid to try something new

Try new shows

The beginning of the fall TV season is like the beginning of a school semester: There are so many new things to try to see what you like the best. From romantic comedies to superhero dramas, there’s a little something for everyone this fall TV season. But you won’t know what you’ll like until you try it!

Don’t be afraid to go a little bit out of your comfort zone and try a new show. For instance, if you usually go for supernatural dramas, maybe go for a rom-com show instead. We’ll be posting dueling reviews about a lot of new shows over the next couple weeks which may help you make some decisions. Don’t be afraid to watch a lot of shows the first few weeks of the fall TV season and then choose which ones you want to continue with. It’ll be fun!

Write out or create a TV calendar for yourself

TV schedule

It’s always helpful to know what you’ve got going on every day. Also, by writing out a TV calendar for yourself before the fall TV season even starts, you can see what shows overlap so that you can prioritize effectively. You can also prepare yourself for themed nights. For instance, your Tuesdays may be pretty super hero or fantasy heavy, or your Mondays may be pretty crime drama heavy. It’s kinda cool to know what to expect beforehand so that you know what kind of mindframe you’ll be in every night of every week. At least, we think that’s kind of handy.

Also, make sure to schedule said calendar with your DVR because it can be quite a disappointment to forget to schedule a show later when you want to watch it. Just sayin’.

Prioritize your shows


Not all shows are created equal, nor do we see all shows as being at the same level. We know that, you know that, everyone knows that. There are some shows that you love to pieces and make it impossible to wait for the next episode. There are other shows that you enjoy but don’t mind watching a few days after they air. That’s perfectly normal. We all have those opinions about shows, especially once the fall TV season is in full swing.

So, before the season starts, prioritize your shows. Figure out which ones are your “can’t miss” shows and which ones you’d be okay with catching later. Here’s a ranking/numbering system this writer uses and recommends (note: #1 doesn’t always designate “best” and #5 doesn’t always designate “worst”):

1. Watch live: These are your “can’t miss or I’ll have a panic attack” shows.
2. Watch on your DVR: At best, these are shows that you really want to see but are on at an inconvenient time (like during one of your #1 shows). At worst, these shows are ones you just don’t feel like getting around to right away (so they’d fall more towards #4 or #5).
3. Watch online: These are shows that you always forget to set the DVR for but really want to see. Or, this ranking could also be synonymous with #2 if you’re someone who doesn’t have the amazingness that is a DVR (like a college kid).
4. Watch On Demand: These are shows that you enjoy but not enough to commit time to every week. So, you catch them when you can or when you’re thinking about them.
5. Binge-watch after the season ends: These shows are the ones that you would rather wait to see in their entirety. They could be shows that you don’t feel like putting effort into every week and whose spoilers won’t really bother you. Or, they could be shows that you love too much/hurt you too much to watch over a nine month span.

A month or so into the fall TV season, reevaluate your priorities to see if anything has changed. It’s amazing how much prioritizing helps keep a person sane when they have upwards of 15 shows on their to-watch list every week!

Make a viewing schedule for yourself

Fall TV season viewing schedule

Now, you may be thinking, “Isn’t this the same as one of the points above?” No. No it’s not. At least not exactly. What we’re suggesting here is that you make yourself a viewing schedule. A routine, if you will. If you’re like a few of our staff members and friends, you most likely have a few shows that run at the same time as each other. More than that, you probably have weekly real-world obligations that you have to attend every week.

So, we recommend that you nail down a viewing schedule. Decide which what shows you’re going to watch what nights, which shows you’re going to watch live, etc. If you have a lot of shows that you want to watch during the fall TV season, it will be a lot less stressful if you have a routine. That way, you won’t accidentally neglect a bunch of shows and have a lot to catch up on!

Know when to cut the cord

OUAT Wonderland

Some shows simply aren’t worth the effort of watching. They’re either poorly done or just not your kind of thing. No matter what anyone has ever told you or what your instincts say, it’s totally okay to stop watching shows. TV is supposed to be (relatively) enjoyable entertainment. It’s not supposed to be painful, nor is it supposed to feel like a chore.

So how do you know when it’s time to let go?

  1. If there’s only one or two aspects of the show that are keeping you coming back for more, chances are that it’s time to say “goodbye.”
  2. If you roll your eyes at the screen more times than you can count, it may be time to cut the cord.
  3. If you find yourself yelling at the characters, writers, or directors multiple times during an episode (and not in a good way, it may be time to cut the cord.
  4. If you put off watching the episodes until after you’ve watched everything else and washed your hair, it may be time to cut the cord.
  5. If you watched a few episodes of the series but weren’t really impressed, it’s probably time to cut the cord.
  6. If you simply don’t like the show anymore or the direction it’s going, it’s definitely time to cut the cord.

As the wise Ferris Bueller once said, “[The fall TV season] moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and [prepare a bit for it], you could miss it.” (“The fall TV season is totally what he meant by “life,” right?) Anyway, we hope at least one of these preparation tips will help you out this year.

Happy fall TV!

How do you prepare for the fall TV season?

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