Fall TV survival guide: How to navigate life with your newly jam-packed schedule


Image Credit: Brook Rushton/Fox

Now that you’re armed with our Fall TV Preview double issue, it’s time to hit the ground running. And by hit the ground running, we of course mean settling in for a lot of television viewing from the comfort of your couch. Still, we realize this can all be pretty overwhelming. After all, for as much television as we consumed over the summer — from Big Brother to True Blood — the viewing schedule wasn’t nearly as jam-packed as it soon will be. (Plus, we even went outside from time to time!) With the premieres of all the new and returning programs just days away, now is the time to get ready. (If you’re far behind on a series, like say, The Good Wife or Community or The Vampire Diaries, you’d better start watching those DVDs to catch up riiiiight… NOW!) But, don’t fret, dear PopWatchers, we’re here to help. After all, you’ll need to outwit, outplay, and outlast all of life’s distractions so you don’t miss a moment of Survivor. Here now, a fall television survival guide:

Find a buddy: Why do we watch TV? To talk about it the next day, of course! Like in college when you’d take classes with a pal and take turns attending so you could exchange notes (which this writer totally never engaged in, just knew people who did), you’ll need a partner through the fall TV season. Shack up with your quirky pals to watch New Girl together or have weekly gatherings to discuss who your favorite contestant is on X Factor. Either way, you can’t do this alone.

Still, DVR is your BFF: Even if you find a friend to keep you up to speed on what the hell is going on on Terra Nova (pictured), Ringer, and Homeland, you’ll need a reliable back-up plan. And there’s nothing more reliable — well, depending on who your cable provider is — than the world’s greatest invention: The DVR. How I Met Your Mother is on the same time as Dancing with the Stars, Hawaii Five-O will vie for our attention while The Playboy Club is on, and Fringe has to go up against equally geeky, cult-y programming like Supernatural. DVR isn’t a choice for this season, its a downright necessity.

If all else fails, buy two TVs:
And we don’t mean like on The Simpsons, when Homer put a mirror against his television set so it looked like he was watching Night Boat doubly. (Though, that’s still an excellent idea.) No, have two TVs, each with DVRs. Sure, you’ll end up as poor as the ladies of 2 Broke Girls, but when Thursday night rolls around and you need a way to watch The Office, Bones, Grey’s Anatomy, Person of Interest, and The Secret Circle, you’ll have it.

Eat: You’re going to need energy for all this television watching. And don’t mind all that business about how eating and watching television will kill you. (As far as we can remember, that’s not how the folks on The Walking Dead wound up in their predicament!) For Parks and Recreation, you’ll want to stock up on bacon and eggs (all the bacon and all the eggs), as well as the fixins for a meat tornado. But, please, no turkey burgers and definitely no salads (unless you are, in fact, a rabbit).

Drink: You can either go classy and enjoy a first class cocktail like the folks in Pan Am or guzzle some questionable beer that you’d find at Paddy’s Pub in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but either way, you should take the edge off somehow. Of course, you might feel some pangs of guilt, freely boozing it up while watching the Prohibition-era Boardwalk Empire, but just tip your glass in their honor.

Sleep: Between watching a bevy of program on your two TVs, you may fight off wanting to sleep. Don’t. Sure, you could watch Up All Night in a sleep-deprived daze at 4 a.m. (it’s still hilarious, even then) or you could blame it on American Horror Story nightmares, but you’ll need rest. When it doubt, just read yourself a bedtime story (you’ll know what those are, thanks to Once Upon A Time), get some shut eye, and rest up for another day full of television viewing.

So there you go, PopWatchers, your full Fall TV survival guide. Godspeed and a thousand Happy Endings!

How do you plan to survive the fall television season? What other tips do you have that we missed? Share in the comments section below!

Read more:
EW picks the five best new shows in our Fall TV Preview
Vote in the EWwy Awards!
Pilot Light 2011: ‘New Girl’ and ‘2 Broke Girls’ help begin the fall TV season with girl-girl-girl power

Comments (50 total) Add your comment
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  • Templar

    Here’s the thing. I barely watch network shows any more due to the crap factor. However, should there be a conflict with something coming on at the same time as NCIS, Castle, BBT or Mike & Molly, I’ll watch the network because the cable channels invariably repeat their shows either late night or weekends.

    • Mike

      You hardly watch network shows because they are crap, yet the four shows you mention are NCIS, Castle, BBT and Mike and Molly? Ha, ok…

      • pastafarian

        My thoughts exactly.

      • Templar

        One person’s crap etc.

      • Kata

        Mike & Molly. Talk about craptastic.

    • Christian

      pwned you stupid bi+ch!

  • Karate Pants

    SO looking forward to meeting the one woman who Ron Swanson fears…Tammy #1. And hoping for a Tammy #1 and #2 face-off!

    • Cara

      I am more looking forward to the original Tammy. Tammy Zero. The woman who raised Ron Swanson.

      • Regina George

        I want to see New Girl.

    • deeannek

      I love P&R! Can’t wait for the new season! Thursdays are going to be a nightmare-Maybe I will dust off the vcr since dvr will not catch everthing I want to see.

  • EL

    Fortunately for me, most of the new shows look really dire and I could care less about reality shows and talent competitions. Sticking with the ones I already watch.

    • Grammar Nazi

      You could care less? So you really like reality ant talent shows?

      • Irony Police

        ANT talent show?

        Spelling fail, Grammar Nazi.

  • Clete

    I cleared my schedule…of most television programming…read books instead. Anything I can’t watch, but want to see, I record and view later (after editing out the nine thosand, seven hundred and sixty-eight commercials shown during the half-hour).

    • Kata

      I also record and view without the adds. :-)

      • Kata


  • Melissa in CA

    My DVR is my best friend! I don’t forsee any conflicts for the returning shows I watch and the new ones I want to watch though. Fortunately, most of the cable networks rerun shows multiple times. BTW, when are you going to post a fall cable premier list?

    • Cava

      Me too! I was wondering if I could daisy-chain multiple DVRs. Mine only records two at a time.

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Fortunately for me I only watch a few shows religiously and they aren’t even on the same nights. I’m set

  • Mary Fowler

    Well I have 4 tv’s and 5 dvr’s ,think I am good.

    • basic

      Have you considered getting a life?

      • Regina George

        Apparently not.

  • pastafarian

    I know this article is half-snark, but seriously, how much tv do we watch? Yeah, there’s a few gems out there, but add up those weekly hours and consider what else we could do with that time. Do you really want to spend a part-time job’s worth of your time to sit through How I Met Dancing With The Real Housewives Of NCIS: SUV? Glad to see most posters so far aren’t losing sleep over the fall schedule.

    • basic


    • Fingerlakes Dave


    • Kata

      I prefer watching a good show over hanging out with most humans I have ever met. My BS factor can’t take it anymore.

  • sbb3d

    This article was humorous, but not useful. And, are DVRs still that popular? I watch OnDemand or online and a DVR seems like a step backwards. Pick your poison, I suppose…

    • Katie

      Yes, DVR is still that popular. Not all shows are OnDemand. Plus OnDemand with my cable provider includes commercials – not as many but some – and you can’t always pause, fast forward, or rewind the shows OnDemand (depends on the show). Also, some shows don’t show up On Demand for a day to a week later. So, if you really want control and to be able to watch it truly when and how you want to, you need DVR.

      • Kata

        Direct TV does not have OnDemand unless you pay extra for it. On Demand is sometimes way behind.

  • Megan

    the only new show I’m adding is Ringer on the CW. And the only old/but new to me show I’m adding is Sons of Anarchy.
    Not really interested in anything else!

  • Samantha

    I don’t know how we are already armed with the issue when the issue is dated September 9th and doesn’t arrive in subscriber’s mailboxes until next week. Canada also has a stat holiday on Monday (no mail delivery) and we probably won’t get the issue until the week of the 12th. This is a huge pet peeve of mine for the Fall TV issue – it always comes so late and is delayed by the stat holiday. Can’t they publish it the week before instead?

    • gemapet

      The mags are dated for the following week – Sep 9 is out Sep 2. In Canada, sometimes I receive the mags on the Fri but most often it arrives the following Mon or Tue, and the stat this week will affect delivery, but you should get it next week, not the week of the 12th.

      • Templar

        I received my copy yesterday.

      • Samantha

        No I get the magazine the same week it’s dated. For instance I’ll get the issue with Sarah Michelle Gellar (which is dated Sept 2) today. They may be available on the newstands a week ahead but they are not in my mailbox then. I’ve subscribed to EW for at least a decade and I’ve never gotten an issue a week early. Therefore I’ll get the issue dated September 9th either on September 8th (unlikely) or the 9th (more likely) and quite possibly the next week because of the stat. I’m pretty sure I know when I get my magazine. The last issue I got was the Fall Movie Preview and I got it on August 19th – not the 12th. That day I got the issue with the Help on the cover. See the pattern?

      • Templar

        Mine [Fall preview issue] came by mail yesterday and I’m on Vancouver Island.

      • Samantha

        I’m in Alberta. I just checked the mail and the issue I got was the Sept 2nd issue.

  • gemapet

    Have just started thinking of the fall tv schedule – will check out this week’s EW mag. Have two tv/dvrs, but the best help is my cable provider which broadcasts eastern stations, so I can record an 8 pm show at 5 pm – barring any news interuptions or extended sports programming. Have to watch out for golf or football running long.

  • Erin

    I ditched my cable last year, but have 2 Tivos. Anything I can’t get, I’ll just watch online. I do love avoiding commercials, so the mute button is my best friend for the online shows.

  • TVD & chuck fan

    Anything I miss live I watch online in the morning w/ a fresh mug of coffee and my pj’s and I’m set to go but if I watch live then whatevers on hand to drink and a handful of my favorite candy does the job quite well.

  • Michael

    NCIS How I meet my Mother and Crinmail Minds are the only things I watch

    • Me Fail English?

      it all makes sense now.

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