It's only a week into the 2013 fall TV season, and already it feels like I've thrown my responsibilities to the wind, staying out all night every night and rolling into work with a messy bun, dark sunglasses, a greasy breakfast sandwich, and enough coffee to make a weaker person's spirit jump out of their body. I spent all night watching new TV and I feel like I challenged a coworker to a drinking contest and lost last night. Oh wait, that was James Franco on The Mindy Project. I'm in worse shape than I thought.
But it's not my fault. Fall TV is simply too good. Tuesday night alone includes Luther (BBC America), Catfish: The TV Show (MTV), Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox), New Girl (Fox), The Mindy Project (Fox), Sons of Anarchy (FX), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC), and the surprisingly delightful Trophy Wife (ABC). In October, the CW will add The Vampire Diaries spin-off The Originals to that lineup and the evening will officially be the end of me — and TV fans everywhere.
Add to this formidable Tuesday night the trappings of Wednesday night — American Horror Story (FX), Arrow (CW), It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FXX), The League (FXX), Nashville (ABC), South Park (Comedy Central), The X Factor (Fox), and Revolution (NBC), to name a few — plus Thursday night — Grey's Anatomy (ABC), Parenthood (NBC), Parks and Recreation (NBC), The Vampire Diaries (CW), Scandal (ABC), Thursday Night Football (NFL), and the CBS sitcom set that everyone seems to love so much — we're all pretty much screwed. And that's before we even factor in Sundays, which have always been chock full of too many good shows and show no signs of letting up, even after Breaking Bad ends this week. Remember, The Walking Dead, Homeland, and Masters of Sex are coming. Damn. This doesn't leave much room for The Daily Show.
But, just in case you plan on actually surviving the next few months, there are a few ways to keep your inevitable TV hangovers to a minimum.
1. IF YOU DON'T HAVE A DVR, GET ONE.
Straight up. You will not survive this without a DVR. Hulu Plus is cool, but it's not exactly a good idea to sneak episodes of New Girl on your laptop during your morning staff meeting. Last night's cat-nipple flashbacks alone would have betrayed your ability to laugh silently.
2. DECIDE WHAT NEEDS TO BE SEEN LIVE
You're going to be exhausted some nights. You're not always going to have the energy to stay up and cycle through all your programs (and since many overlap, you could be looking at 5 or more hours of programming). Decide now what you must see as soon as it airs. Shows like Breaking Bad and Scandal take over Twitter when they air, making them live-viewing shoe-ins, while shows like Parenthood and Grey's Anatomy are at manageable levels of potential social media spoilage. You could also stop looking at Twitter during commercial breaks, but that's no fun at all.
3. CHOOSE A FEW SHOWS TO SAVE FOR ACTUAL HANGOVERS
Saturday mornings are wonderful, because you can reserve them for recovery from a long week, stressful deadlines, and of course, a long and potentially rowdy Friday night. And when you're hungover, reading a book or even the newspaper tough. Getting up and going anywhere at all is tougher. But watching TV you missed during the week is the perfect treat for your lazy, lazy morning. This time is great for shows you like, but aren't obsessed with — your Brooklyn Nine-Nines and The Leagues. Give yourself a rest, record those suckers, and enjoy them when you've got some serious down time.
4. PICK A FEW SERIES TO SAVE FOR BINGE-WATCHING
The stretch between the holidays and the return of new TV in December and January is a long one. Don't exhaust yourself now and set yourself up for surefire withdrawal when the winter dead zone approaches. Series like Luther, which is phenomenal TV without really being Must-See TV, are great for saving and watching all in one go. The same goes for other fringe series like Eastbound and Down. If you can't fit it in and it's not a show that dominates conversations with all your buddies, save it for later like the wonder that is cold pizza.
5. READ BEFORE YOU GO TO SLEEP
According to the National Sleep Foundation, TV before bed is bad for you, mmk? So, if you really want to wake up after a long night of TV and still have a functioning brain, enjoy entertainment's other delights between your last TV show and bed, like a good book or a magazine (the paper kind, not one you subscribe to on your iPad). Trust me. It helps. Plus, when people accuse you of being a TV junkie, you can bring up the incredible new Jhumpa Lahiri book you're quickly devouring and shut that condescending comment down. Booyah.
6. YOU'LL STILL BE TIRED AFTER TUESDAYS, WEDNESDAYS, THURSDAYS, AND SUNDAYS, SO STAY ALERT.
- If you're a coffee drinker, you know the drill, though you may want to up your dosage after a night like these. If you're not a coffee person, I can't help you.
- When it comes to breakfast, go for brain food, not food your brain thinks you want (i.e. bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel). Yogurt, whole wheat toast with avocado, and oatmeal are good places to start — you'll be tired, so the easier the food prep process, the better.
- Plan your outfits ahead of time. That will eliminate the embarrassment of sleepily stumbling around your apartment after a long night of TV and mistaking that worn out Mickey Mouse sweatshirt as an acceptable pencil skirt accompaniment.
- Stay strong. It's going to be a long TV season, so don't punk out now.
We can do this, everyone.