TV viewers: How do you handle show overload?

Once, TV was considered a vast wasteland, but one which did produce some interesting shows. Then for a while ‘reality’ tv took over, since these entertainments were cheaper to produce than scripted progams. Now, there is a glut (or a veritable cornucopia) of scripted television. This has happened presumably to fill up the many new ways tv can be provided to us. But it so much, so much of a good thing. I feel that every single day I hear about another new series, whether streaming, available all at once or one episode at a time, on cable or whatever. I think I read that there are over 400 scripted shows currently being produced (can someone find the real number?). Too much.

Anyway – how do you, as a viewer, handle all this? How many shows do you give a chance? How many do you actually follow?

As for me, about 5 years ago I followed (watched regularly) about 6 shows. Big Bang Theory is the only tv show I follow now. (Don’t judge). I got out of the habit when some of the shows I watched ended & the superproliferation of shows was off putting. Too many choices, though choice is good.

I try to limit my viewing to one hour a weeknight. I also like to keep at least one weeknight free.

Currently, I’m watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Supergirl, Lucifer (breaking my own guideline) iZombie, You, Me, and the Apocalypse, and Mercy Street. Sometimes I’ll also watch Bob’s Burgers.

I’ve just done a lot of pruning, dropping Scandal and Grimm (got bored with both). I started with Legends of Tomorrow for a couple of weeks but gave up, and dropped Gotham in October.

I also only have basic cable, so I can only get broadcast networks. But, basically, I’m very demanding and will drop a show if I like something better on that evening.

Back in the '60s and '70s, before the cable era, we had ABC, NBC, and CBS; plus local VHF stations (in my case, KTLA and KTTV – though those were in L.A. and I was in San Diego – and XETV) and UHF stations (we had KPBS and whatever the one on Channel 39 was called). The whole country had pretty much the same thing, with more or fewer channels depending on where they were. I think this is a big reason why shows like Gilligan’s Island and Magnum P.I. and even bona fide television Events such as Roots remain in the public consciousness. Everybody watched the same thing. Television was a shared experience. Today there are hundreds of channels, and more shows that anyone can reasonably watch. (I’m one of those people who has never watched Friends or Seinfeld or Cheers.)

In our case, we watch The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead, Game Of Thrones, Hell On Wheels, NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans, and until last week, Downton Abbey. We also enjoyed Boardwalk Empire when it was on. Mrs. L.A. records Mystery At The Castle and other such shows, which I find mildly interesting. Our ‘filler’ shows are often things on ID Channel or Travel Channel.

It depends on if it catches my interest. I certainly don’t feel the need to check out every single new show. Plus, if I find later I want to catch up, there’s always On Demand.

Currently Outlander, Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones, and Once Upon a Time are my appointment TV. (Downton Abbey was too, but they wrapped up last week.) I’ll watch Law and Order and Law and Order SVU (not the post-Eliot episodes) when they’re on, but if I’m planning to do some knitting and need something to watch outside Appointment TV, I’ll fire up Netflix.

There are certainly a lot of high production-value shows now. Many shows are the same quality that movies were 10 or 20 years ago. The plots are generally pretty good too, but sometimes too slow and drawn-out during a series.

For a new series I will normally record the first few episodes and see if they grab me. If I’m looking forward to the next episode, I start recording it regularly, if not I move on. Same with Netflix, if I start watching a new show I keep watching if I look forward to the next episode. A lot of shows I like and appreciate, but just haven’t bothered watching. Trailer Park Boys and Jessica Jones are two that come to mind.

I discovered Cougar Town by recording Community. After the Community episodes ended the first few minutes of Cougar Town were at the end of the recording, and watching those accidentally got me interested.

I have no problem handling the vast cornucopia of TV shows currently available.

I have a really nice large-screen TV, and it is almost always off. Except when we want to watch a movie, or sometimes when I turn it on for the news. If someone asks my opinion about a new TV show, I’m always able to demonstrate an impressive in-depth knowledge of the current milieu of television entertainment by making the following truthful observation: “Never heard of it.”

That’s how I get by. This approach might not apply to everyone, but it works for me! :slight_smile:

Generally, my strategy is to wait until shows are in syndication, or even finished altogether, before I watch them. This way, I can binge watch when I do have time, and I’m filtering out those shows with more hype than substance. I can also avoid the Lost fiasco in which I invest a lot of time in something that doesn’t pan out.

As an example, I didn’t start watching House until it hit cable channels in four-hour marathon showings. I think that happened when the new releases were in their fifth or sixth season.

Nothing’s really changed, except that now I have ways of watching more shows after the fact than ever before.

Back in the day, you pretty much had to watch a show while it was either first-run, or an off-season re-run, or have to wait until the show was syndicated to catch up on missed episodes. So for example, I liked Futurama, but there were several episodes in the first few seasons that I missed because of football pre-empting and not catching them or taping them the first time around. I had to wait for them to be replayed on Cartoon Network (or was it Comedy Central?) back around 2003.

Now, if I ever decide that I want to go watch “Better Call Saul” I can go stream it and catch up, or potentially just DVR the series and get around to watching it later when I have time. Or, as is the fashion with cable shows these days, just wait until the beginning of the next season and DVR/watch the last season(s) as they show a marathon before the start of the new season.

If I like a show, I tend to either watch them live, or time-shift them to a day when I can. For example, my wife and I watch “Vikings” on Thursdays, but she has a class that night, so we delay it until Friday or Saturday evening.

Having a backlog of shows to watch is much preferable to the alternative of having to catch them first-run or waiting for syndication.

DVR has very much changed the way I watch TV. There’s no such thing as “appointment television” anymore. Plus I fast-forward through all of the commercials and parts of a show that I don’t like (i.e. late night talkshow monologues…) So… I just get around to shows whenever I get around to them, however long that may take.

That said, there is something about having a ton of shows in the queue that I find vaguely stressful, so I tend to keep it under control.

Things can get hairy at times… I tend to cull a lot more shows from my DVR than I used to (esp when the recordings of them get in the double digits… that just means to me that I’m not really all that interested in that show). In addition, I cut cable, so that actually minimizes the glut. I can watch those cable shows when they come on Netflix or Hulu.

PVR mainly, I have at least five prime shows, and a couple of secondaries. Mainly Game of Thrones, Walking dead, Agents of Shield, The Magicians, and the Flash. With the amount of hiatus going on during seasons, I like to have something to fall back on, when that happens.


Not only do I have all the US shows to watch, but I also try to see as many British and Australian shows that may appeal (and a couple of Canadian shows too).

But I have to be ruthless. Shows that drop the ball are expendable. I might be able to catch up later, during a fallow period, but even that’s becoming less likely as off-season shows are often just as good as any other. So I’ll only stick with consistently good shows, and the rest will fall by the wayside without guilt.

I don’t even have a TV.

I try and stick to a few big shows that I know are good or have been reccommended by friends with similar tastes.

I’ve also learned to be OK with just giving up on a show and reading the Wikipedia entries to keep up with the plot if I still have some residual interest - The Walking Dead is a good example of this; I just got sick of it being the same thing over and over and over but I know quite a few people who watch it, so it’s worth having some idea what’s going on so I can at least nod appropriately during conversations they’re having about it.

Another tactic for OK-but-not-worth-recording shows - save them for summer, when the shows I watch regularly are in reruns.
I also don’t have cable which limits overload (if it is a really good show I hope it goes to Netflix or I get DVDs)

There is also some time around holidays when most stuff on is reruns or specials I am not interested in.


We dropped cable about a year and a half ago and use Netflix and Hulu almost exclusively. We watch the ABC Wednesday night sitcoms (The Middle, The Goldbergs, and Modern Family), Shark Tank and Bar Recuse when new episodes are posted. Otherwise we are working our way through a twenty-year backlog of shows we didn’t watch while we were raising the family (and Columbo).

Although we own a tv it is used mainly for “events” like the super bowl if we have guests.

I binge watch series using Netflix and Amazon on my iPad. Shows like Justify, Sopranos, Bosch, etc i enjoy the most by watching a season at a time.

In our case things have gotten much simpler over the past few years. Nowadays we have almost no conflicts except for one or two nights. Only one of those nights causes us to have to juggle things around by a combination of waiting until a later hour for a repeat of the same show/episode or by resorting to the “On Demand” archives that are usually a day later getting available.

Otherwise we record every show we’re interested in so we can bypass commercials and cut viewing time down by that much. Premium channels and PBS shows don’t have the problem of commercials but we record them anyway in case there are timing conflicts.

What used to be the case (until the last year or two) was that there were at least two shows per night we would make it a point of watching. This year there are a few nights where we don’t even turn on the TV! Must be that our demographic (geezers) is getting pushed to the side so the younger folks (the ones who buy the shit in the commercials) can be assaulted with the come-ons.

All told, we have about 10-15 shows per week that we consider “appointment TV.” I should mention that even though we have been recording episodes of new shows this season, there are at least three shows we have yet to watch the first episode of. Odds are we may never even see Episode 2 of some of them. :smiley:

I’ve cut back the cable to just local channels; I would have cut the cable completely, but it would actually cost more for just internet via Fios because of the package deal, I presume. We do still get a few non-local channels like TNT, History, Nat Geo, SyFy, but I’m not sure we’re supposed to or that it will last. We get free HBO until this summer, but it’s actually quite rare we watch it.

Anyways, we primarily watch Netflix and Hulu Plus, so we’re limited to what’s available there, but we have yet to find it very limiting. We can still watch most current shows on-demand via Hulu, and there’s plenty of older stuff we bounce around from.

I’ve responded by shutting down. There are too many shows to choose from, so I basically just don’t watch anything on a regular basis.