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How to Watch 16 TV Shows in a Season and Do Other Things Too

It’s finally happened: I’m following more television shows than I can actually keep up with in a week. Given my love of the medium and interest in seeing storytelling develop in it, this probably shouldn’t come as any great surprise. Still, I was mildly taken aback last week when I realized I needed to sit down and rigorously schedule my viewings to keep pace with airings. Not to mention juggling recording settings on my DVR (I can only record two progams simultaneously! Sometimes this is a problem.), figuring out which shows are available On Demand, and hunting down content that falls outside of those two options via the network’s website or Hulu.

Hell, a couple days ago, I had to ask one of my closest friends to give me a deadline for catching up on American Horror Story. I’m three episodes behind now and it’s only getting worse – she kindly told me to get those viewings in, chop chop, by Thanksgiving!

I work 35 hours a week, am a graduate student working on a thesis, and also do things like read books, record a podcast, and actually talk to my husband. As such, it’s not all TV all the time here, in spite of the evidence to the contrary. In fact, we generally cap episode viewings to two a day. But, Deborah, you may ask, how do you actively follow 16 shows with that limit, and without letting any episodes get lost in the shuffle? Or losing your shit?

I’m glad you asked.

While I make it sound pesky and troublesome, formulating a way to get access to the content isn’t that difficult. The initial configuration seriously only takes about 30 minutes if you have the right equipment. To wit, this is my set-up for keeping up with my TV interests:

1. TV Calendar.
This neat little tool lets me select all the shows I watch and then integrate them into my Google Calendar.

2. A DVR.
Armed with the list of shows I watch integrated in my Google calendar, it’s a cinch to search TV listings through my DVR and set up season recordings.

3. Access to an On Demand service.
Sometimes, more than two of my shows air in the same time slot. Those available in On Demand get deprioritized re: DVRing.

4. Hulu+.
If I can neither record a show because of reasons, nor find it in the On Demand library, I check Hulu+ (preferred over Hulu since I can access it via PS3 or Roku).

5. The Internet.
If I can’t record a show, find it in On Demand, and it’s not available on Hulu, I check the network’s website. *cough*CW*cough*

6. Roku.
If I can’t record a show, find it in On Demand, and it’s not available on Hulu or the network’s website (or just taking too long to become available), there’s always the Amazon app available via the Roku box. (Securing the episodes individually via Amazon costs between $1.99-2.99, unless you’re a subscriber.)

When the onslaught of my Fall Tv lineup started, I sat down with my Google calendar, set up season recordings via DVR, noted which ones I’d have to watch by other means, and I either tune into them via On Demand, Hulu, the network’s website, or Roku when the time comes for viewing. I may not be current on any given week, but that suits me fine as I’ll explain below.

Let’s take a look at what I’m currently following:

Notes: I indicate whether you can watch the show On Demand, on Hulu, or on the network’s website after each listing – while that’s not always synonymous with “free,” it is generally folded into a larger subscription service.

While I include links to the streaming sections of network’s websites, that doesn’t mean all episodes of the series in question are available instantly after airing or in perpetuity.

Finally, I differentiate between Hulu and Hulu+, so watch out for that.


Once Upon a Time [ABC 8PM EST / On Demand / Hulu+ / abc.go.com]
Leverage [TNT 9PM EST / On Demand / tnt.tv]
The Walking Dead [AMC 9PM EST / On Demand]
Hell on Wheels [AMC 10PM EST / On Demand]

The only show I watch in real time on Sunday nights is The Walking Dead, even if it has been a snoozefest recently. I imagine that’s intentionally luring the audience into a false sense of security, however. I usually wedge Once Upon a Time in on Mondays, and I’m honestly still following it only so I can have something to bitch about (entertainingly, we hope!) on my YouTube channel. (Well, that and I’m a fairy tale maven – if there’s a fairy tale-inspired show on the air, you better believe I’m going to follow it to the bitter end. For analytical purposes.) My husband and I only started watching Leverage a couple of months ago, so I’m not sure if this one will become a live-watch when it returns next week on November 27th – right now, we’re watching early S4 via On Demand and it’s so good we usually let it steal a slot a day. We’ve seen the pilot of Hell on Wheels and it’s got promise, but we’ve yet to schedule in the second episode (even if the third is airing tonight).


Terra Nova [FOX 8PM EST / On Demand / Hulu+ / fox.com]

Each week, Andy and I would watch this on Tuesday afternoon. Each week, we tuned in with the hopes that maybe it had become less boring. It never did, and any scene lacking Stephen Lang wasn’t worth watching. Terra Nova is, however, one of the only hard science fiction shows on television right now so we’ve been attempting to stick it out. Just not too keenly – we’re about four weeks behind, and not fussed about scheduling time to watch them any time soon. They’ll keep on the DVR, and we use Mondays to keep abreast of other shows – like Supernatural and Hell on Wheels.


New Girl [FOX 9PM EST / On Demand / Hulu+ / fox.com]
Ringer [CW 9PM EST / cwtv.com]

I watch Ringer live every Tuesday because, as much ridiculous amusement as the show brings me, it’s not something I’d make time for otherwise. I idly watched the pilot because Sarah Michelle Gellar was Buffy back in the day, and I kept watching it out of a perverse desire to see how twisty a soap opera this allegedly noir drama can become. New Girl, on the other hand, is cute as a button and part of my Thursday comedy line-up, so I watch it then.


American Horror Story [FX 10PM EST/ On Demand / Hulu / vod.fxnetworks.com]
South Park [Comedy Central 10PM EST / On Demand / southparkstudios.com]

Generally, we watch Grimm in the evenings and then catch the beautifully offensive South Park live as the night wears on. Although I just discovered that “The Poor Kid” was the season finale, so I guess I’m only following 15 shows actively right now.

I already mentioned that I’m three episodes behind on American Horror Story – as bizarre and compelling as it is, it’s something I only ever queue up from the On Demand menu when I can. I’m taking advantage of the mid-season hiatus of The Secret Circle to catch up using Saturday nights.


The Big Bang Theory [CBS 8PM EST / cbs.com]
Community [NBC 8PM EST / On Demand / Hulu / nbc.com]
The Vampire Diaries [CW 8PM EST / cwtv.com]
The Secret Circle [CW 9 PM EST / cwtv.com]
Burn Notice [USA 10PM EST / On Demand / usanetwork.com]

Thursday is the problematic night, as you can see. It’s also the night where I can’t DVR all my shows due to timing and interest conflicts. I could DVR both The Big Bang Theory and The Vampire Diaries, and watch Community via On Demand – but, in the interests of full disclosure, sometimes On Demand fails. Sometimes an episode inexplicably doesn’t get added for many days, maybe even weeks. The shows that are more important to Casa Quixote collectively are therefore the ones DVR-prioritized, and The Vampire Diaries doesn’t interest my husband. Sob. Thus is TVD banished to the Internets! I’m not too dismayed though, apart from the lengths to which I must go to avoid spoilers – The Vampire Diaries is my special favorite, and as such I tend to hoard episodes and then watch them in a fit of gluttonous joy. I actually have the last three episodes stored up just for that purpose.

We watch The Big Bang Theory right after it airs, but we’re generally never home in time to catch it live. The fantastically awesome and meta Community is always reserved for Saturday nights, and I generally watch The Secret Circle afterward. Burn Notice gets bumped to Friday nights now that it comes on at 10 PM again – we just like to watch it earlier than that, and without commercials.


Grimm [NBC 9PM EST / On Demand / Hulu+ / nbc.com]
Supernatural [CW 9PM EST / cwtv.com]

We usually watch Supernatural live in Casa Quixote, but it’s been displaced by Burn Notice for the next four weeks or so. As such, poor tired Supernatural tends to slip to Mondays now. And Grimm, my best beloved new fairytale show, gets an avid viewing on Wednesdays.

And there you have it: the sheer complexity of my Fall TV viewing schedule, made doable with DVR and various streaming services. Andy and I also have a few long-standing shows we’ve been trying to catch up on: we’re on S3 of the original Star Trek (Netflix Instant / Amazon Prime), on S4 of The Tudors (Netflix Instant / Amazon Prime), a few episodes from the end of The Pacific, and I am really itching to start Fringe.

I’m just glad I dropped Glee.

What are you watching?


P.S. Oh, and if you’re interested in semi-live discussions on an episode-by-episode basis? I’m active on both GetGlue and Miso.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Brittany December 7, 2011, 12:35 AM

    Ahh! Your list is crazy, I’m so impressed! I’m watching (ordered as they appear in the week) Once Upon a Time, The Amazing Race, How I Met Your Mother, Castle, Glee, Bones, The Vampire Diaries, Chuck, and Grimm right now and that seems like way too many. I would probably drop several of these, especially Glee, if it weren’t for the fact I watch them with my family and it’s fun family time :).

    (P.S. We still must listen to Night of Hunters together!)

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