The Twelve Tiers of Fall Television!
The fall television season is almost upon us! And with it (and thanks to the fact that I have an incredibly old DVR that is slow and glitchy and constantly on the brink of being full, but still, it’s better than going to [EVIL CABLE COMPANY]’s customer service center) comes the annual sorting ceremony of what I shall and shan’t watch, which will be separated into twelve easy tiers!
NOTE: This is not a preview of the fall network television season, which seems hard to do since, you know, I haven’t actually seen any of the shows yet. Instead, this is an explanation of the various categories that one might place the new shows into.
ANOTHER NOTE: Perhaps you are wondering why I need twelve tiers. Clearly, it is because vaguely unnecessary television categorization is an important topic to me. It is definitely because of that, and not because I liked the way the title sounded, and now have to take what began as, at best, a five tier idea, and streeeeeeeeeetch it. Onward!
“We’ll do it live!”
This, of course, is the television show that is so great that you have to actually watch it when it is airing for the first time. Possibly with other people, despite the fact that you, at best, only tolerate their presence in your home.
No shows are expected to fall into this category.
“I can’t stay out TOO late, I have to get home (and watch [NAME OF SHOW]).”
This show is almost as good as the “We’ll do it live!” show, in that you will modify your social calendar for this show, but you won’t cancel dinner plans, because look, you’re not a CRAZY person.
But perhaps you will be keeping an eye on your watch as the after-dinner coffee/dessert portion of the evening drags on, because while you certainly don’t have to see the show live, you DO want to watch it before you go to sleep, and you DO have that presentation in the morning so you definitely can’t go to that bar everyone is thinking about stopping at for “just one we promise”.
After all, you are a very busy adult, who knows how to prioritize.
“No spoilers, I’m watching it tonight!”
This show is good enough that you like to keep as up-to-date as possible, but not so good that it made you skip the bar, where you and your friends definitely did not have “just one”.
Alternately, it is one of the shows that your co-workers tend to enjoy talking about at work, and even though you only find it mildly entertaining, your therapist told you that finding “common interests” with the people around you is a good way to make “friends”, and since you watch so much television anyway maybe you should use that as a way to “connect”.
This tier also has one other purpose: for the cord-cutters who have Hulu, this is their maximum tier, as they are always, at best, a day behind. Pity them, for this is their sad lament of the fact that they are always twenty-four hours behind the rest of us.
Unless, of course, they’re way smug about “not having cable”, in which case SPOIL AWAY!
“I’ll catch it on Hulu, I swear.”
This tier is a little niche, because for someone to properly utilize this tier, one would have to have both a television package and Hulu, which can seem wasteful.
But you have a good reason! Perhaps you still watch The Mindy Project or Difficult People or The Handmaid’s Tale and so much other stuff that it’s TOTALLY worth paying the extra $12 a month (of COURSE you go no commercials). And now you can use Hulu as a virtual DVR for shows that you don’t have room for on your actual DVR! See? It’s perfect! Guys? Where are you going?
(In truth, you will never catch up on any of the shows in this tier. Once a show falls into this tier, it is lost into the deep recesses of your mental television checklist, forever bumped down by new shows or the rerun of Parks and Recreation that you accidentally found that day you were home sick from work.)
“Yeah, I’m not watching that.”
We all have this tier. This is the show that you saw a preview or billboard for, and decided that you have better things to do with your time.
You made the correct choice.
“I tried the pilot, and it was good, but it wasn’t for me.”
This could technically be a subset of the previous tier, but is specifically utilized when you run into Paul, your friend who really loves the show in question, or (other) Paul, who works on the show.
“Did that show start already?”
Some shows just fall through the cracks. It’s not anybody’s fault; there’s just too much television to keep up with, even without getting into all of the streaming shows that just keep appearing out of nowhere.
The shows that fall into this tier are a mystery, because they looked interesting enough that, at one point, you considered trying to watch, but not enough that it remained in your brain. You briefly consider catching up, but doing so would probably require more effort than you’d like to put forward.
The shows that fall into this tier will run for eight seasons.
“I’ll wait until it’s on [STREAMING SERVICE], so I can binge it.”
This is my least favorite tier, because technically, the success of a television show (and specifically, the network television show) is still at least somewhat governed by ratings, and every* person who decides that they would prefer to turn a show designed for week-to-week consumption into one that they can binge at their leisure is one less person to help guide executives on whether or not the thing they’ve spent a lot of money on is worth spending even more money on next year.
*Yes, I know that most people are not actually counted in ratings, and that the Nielsen ratings are a highly flawed, antiquated system, and that the continued globalization of the television market is why most TV shows these days are profitable before they’ve aired one episode in the United States despite what the companies are telling you. But it’s hard enough for a show to survive as it is, and “nobody watched it” remains a potent, if hollow, excuse for cancellation.
“I’ll wait to see if there’s a season two, because I don’t want to get burned like I did with [BELOVED ONE SEASON SHOW].”
Whoops, spoke too soon. THIS is actually my least favorite tier, even though I understand it. After all, we all have one season shows that we loved and lost and still think about today.
But if we’re unwilling to put ourselves back out there after such a loss, what kind of life is that? What kind of lesson are we teaching the children? Don’t we owe it to future generations to show them that in this moment, we were not afraid, but instead, we were willing to take a chance once again, and this time, in our own little way, we helped that show get their second seas-oh it just got cancelled.
“Oh crap this show is filling up my DVR.”
This tier is for the show that people have told you to watch, but it looks like something you won’t enjoy, or will be a lot of emotional work to get through, so you keep promising to go back to watch it but you don’t and the hole keeps getting deeper, an ever-growing reminder of your failure to literally press a couple of buttons and then sit in front of the television for an hour, because OH I GUESS THAT WAS TOO HARD FOR SOME REASON.
If you do not deal with this problem in a timely manner (in my experience, about six episodes in), it invariably falls into the next tier:
“Oh crap I deleted the show that was filling up my DVR and now the only way I can catch up is through [EVIL CABLE COMPANY]’s mediocre on-demand service.”
This tier is a whole new layer of guilt and burden, because now not only do you have to catch up on the show, you no longer have that constant reminder taking up space on your precious DVR, which means you have to press a few more buttons and actually find the show in the mediocre on-demand service’s menu. Also, it means you will have to watch whatever commercials they’ve decided to stick into the episode during the mediocre on-demand service because they can do that, which means you’re about to learn a lot about the reasonable financing you can get when purchasing [AFFORDABLE MID-SIZED SEDAN], or how [EVIL CABLE COMPANY] is actually not so evil, they swear!
Despite the internal frustration and struggle that this tier can bring to you, the discriminating television viewer, once a show falls into this tier, it almost always ends up in the final tier, which is:
“Oh crap I deleted the show that was filling up my DVR and I thought the only way I could catch up was through [EVIL CABLE COMPANY]’s mediocre on-demand service but due to a complex contract stalemate between [EVIL CABLE COMPANY] and [OTHER EVIL CABLE COMPANY] over covering some other random probably sports channel I don’t need the show isn’t actually available on-demand and now I have to go buy the individual episodes if I want to catch up now and I don’t really want to do that because that’s gonna cost me like thirty bucks but Megan from work said this show is really good and if I don’t catch up this weekend before the season finale they’re gonna spoil the whole thing in the office kitchen when we’re all getting coffee so yeah I guess you could say I’ve been busy.”
This may explain where all my money is going.
Happy fall TV viewing everyone! What are you looking forward to?
(In no particular order, I will at least sample the following new network shows: The Orville, Ghosted, The Good Doctor, Me, Myself, & I, The Mayor, The Gospel of Kevin, plus Rise and Life Sentence yes I know they’re both midseason but I’m mentioning them anyway because Jason Katims and Bill Lawrence)
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