Yes, You Should Have A Viewing Strategy. Here's A Great 10-Point Plan For Series, Films, Channels.
Maybe put a little more thought into your screen time?
I’ve already been asked about how I’m going to dole out viewing advice as the WGA writers strike kicks in, and the simple answer is this: It’s not going to have an effect on you for at least six months (other than late night programming) but yes, I’ve got you. Don’t worry.
(If you’re wondering, the lead time for new shows depends on the platform producing them and can be as long as two years but roughly one-ish if things are going smoothly — but they often don’t. There are plenty of new shows started ages ago, finished and ready to be rolled out, plus others where the writing is completed so production continues — although there’s no telling how things will be interpreted in the latter. That said, it’ll be a while until you notice a lag in new shows, if you notice at all, since almost all of us are behind).
In the meantime, prompted to think of a strike watching strategy of sorts, I was reminded that most people don’t have a plan on how to watch TV other than “I’m already watching Show X so I’ll finish that and "I’m sort of excited for Show Z which starts next month.” In the meantime, people just kind of blindly hunt around, which probably helps me more than you.
And I totally get it. People just want to lay back on their Comfortable Viewing Furniture Of Choice and be entertained. It’s been that way forever. And although many savvy viewers track shows on apps and, like book lovers using Goodreads or movie lovers using Letterboxd, they can stay up to date and focused, most people are, well, blergh, when it comes to having a plan.
I’ve always believed that a solidly excellent plan of attack is helpful. One that looks forward and backward and is flexible and interested in discovery. For me, the modified current plan looks like this, which I think can be helpful for people:
Follow two current shows — for our purposes, current is anything in the last year. If you find you’re doing well on this plan, meaning you have enough time to easily get it done, you can expand your list.
Find two shows you wanted to see but missed — or someone tipped you to them recently but you’re still late in the game — that are between two and five years old. These shows probably have a number of seasons, but start with the first and then decide later to keep going or discover something new instead. You can always circle back.
You’ll need a helpful guide for this — waving — but it might be the most fun and possibly most important thing on this list: Watch a brilliant show you’ve never heard of. (More on this below).
Watch two quality movies that were just added to streaming services (which means they are essentially new).
Watch one classic film you’ve never seen. Repeat. Monthly. Forever.
Add a documentary or other non-fiction series to your list.
Dedicate yourself to watching every single season of the one of the Top 10 Greatest Dramas Ever that you previously haven’t seen or didn’t finish. I’ll give you six below.
“I forget what eight was for.”1
Pick one streamer/channel and make an in-depth attempt to devour and discover its offerings, and/or get your money’s worth while keeping it enjoyable.
Nah, read a book or listen to some music. You’ve got enough to watch.
I’ve kept to some form of this through the years, with movies and documentaries getting much more play now that I’m not killing myself time-wise as a full time television critic (half time is more than enough and about the right amount).
Sometimes the numbers involved will shift, but it gives you a little bit of everything. Here are my suggestions on each:
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