How can I watch all these TV shows? Answer: you don’t have to


REMEMBER WHEN Was watching TV fun before?

About a decade ago, following popular TV meant following a handful of top shows. As long as you got caught up in the meth-cook madness breaking Badembraced the sordid 60s of Mad Menand keep your cup full for game of thronesyou were basically fixed.

Ah, yes, those were the days: Netflix was still in the fight for streaming dominance, the big networks were in a post-Lost recession relevance, and Law and order filled in the gaps.

Now TV is work.

You’ve heard of the number of services (Disney+, Hulu, HBO Max, etc.) and volume of programming before, but now there’s the issue of length. What was once the norm for 22-minute episodes of The simpsons grew within 49 minutes of breaking Bad then swelled in game of thrones‘ 57-minute mini-movies. (Invent AnnaI want all those hours of my life back.)

You used to watch one episode a week and get caught up. Now you can watch TV for weeks and never feel that way.

Which brings us to one of the biggest new debuts of the fall: Amazon Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Amazon’s latest epic is set to become the most expensive TV show of all time, with an estimated budget of $1 billion.

But then there is the soul that crushes rumor that each of the first episodes could have a duration of 90 minutes – duration of the film.

Tania Yuki, director of marketing at media analytics firm Comscore, can explain this in part: Because streaming shows don’t have to fit into a fixed network time slot of 30 or 60 minutes, there’s more of freedom. “It makes sense to turn on longer episodes, because once you have a captive audience, why not keep them as long as possible rather than risk them moving on to another show?” Yuki said.

I guess that makes sense—for streaming services. But with so many sprawling stories, how do you keep up? Free time is fleeting, and the decision between catching that show, starting that show, or finally finishing a third one is an unnecessary (and, admittedly, silly) form of stress.

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I spoke to Daniel D’Addario, chief television critic for Variety, about all this – and he gave me the keys to freedom. “There’s so much TV that there won’t be any shows to watch or discuss,” he says.

It’s true. Get rid of the idea that you have to be up to date, because it is now impossible to be.

“If you’re not immediately seized by the thought of watching it or don’t have the time, move on,” D’Addario says. Fans claim that a show “gets good in Episode 4” or “Season 2 is better than 1.” (Network TV didn’t require hours of accumulation – it had to earn a living, every episode or risk being cancelled.)

D’Addario recommends going to Marie Kondo on your TV habits. If it doesn’t spark joy, skip it. If your inner father can’t stand the idea of ​​teenage drug addicts Euphoria, so why bother? If you watch the first 30 minutes of power rings and it doesn’t oblige you, let it go.

It’s not just that there’s so much television, but there’s so much good TV. Movie stars are all about streaming. Kevin Costner is unstoppable on Yellowstone. Ben Stiller’s realization of Breakup put on the show. Kate Winslet wears Easttown Mare. Sure, there’s an overabundance of schlock out there, but you can skip that too. It’s okay not to care what someone else thinks is must-watch TV.

Still don’t know what to watch? Law and order is now streaming on Hulu.

A version of this article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of men’s health.

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