In college, I watched a lot of television. It was probably one of my main activities, and you could pretty much catch me every night curled up in front of my laptop with my friends huddled around, catching up on our shows. Nowadays, I don’t have a ton of time–or the attention span–to be watching TV, so I’ve got to be picky about what I do watch. And even when I do have the time, that’s usually because I’m meal prepping for the week. It takes me about two to three hours to meal prep every Sunday, so I love to just wedge my laptop onto the counter with all my food, stick my headphones in, and put on something I don’t have to totally pay attention to. I mean, I’m definitely watching it, and I’m focused on it, but I also have the ability to walk away to the fridge and not have to worry overmuch about missing something pivotal. Thus, these are some of my favorite shows to put on where I can do other things while watching. Some of them are rewatches when I do this, but some of them were watched the first time like this, too.
My most recent show while meal prepping has been Atypical since I’m two seasons behind, and it’s been so much fun catching up. It took me most of August to watch season three since I was just doing a couple episodes each week, but I’ve been enjoying it immensely, and I’m so sad that it’s over now. This is such a fun, easy show to watch, and it’s just the right amount of predictable that I can quickly walk away from it and just listen in on my headphones and not miss anything.
Criminal Minds is an old favorite of mine, and I keep saying that I’m going to go back and watch it from the beginning because those were the good old days, and I’m so far behind with whatever season is currently out. Who knows, maybe I will, but I think Shemar Moore left the show a couple years ago, and not seeing him opposite MGG is just–nahhhhh. However, I am now seeing that it ended last year, so maybe it is time to finally start all 15 seasons over again. (She says, having tried to do the same thing with Supernatural and barely getting three seasons in.) Either way, this show is your typical crime drama, and it’s so easy to pop in and out of it.
I know what you’re thinking–Doctor Who is so not a show that you can watch without paying attention, but think about how many episodes aren’t actually pivotal to the overall arc of each season. There are so many monster-of-the-week episodes, and while there are a core few that tie the bigger plot together, and there are definitely moments in each of those throwaway episodes, there’s still a lot here that you can largely just skim past. That’s how it is with most of these shows that’ve been on the air for a million years and follow a similar formula. Could I watch the heartwrenching Ten & Rose episodes on the fly? Not a chance! But I could definitely watch all the regular episodes in between without paying too much close attention.
There’s definitely just something about contemporary shows, and I feel like Gilmore Girls just makes sense as a show to put on and not think about. For many of us, we’ve seen it at least once or twice–likely more than that, if we’re being honest–and it’s all kind of brain-numbing anyway, so it’s an easy one to click on and do some chores. There are some scenes that are bound to catch and hold your attention for a little bit, but most of it is just nonsense chatter between Lorelai & Rory that you can half-tune out.
Grace & Frankie is a strange one for me because I’ve gone both ways on this. The earlier seasons, I watched tucked into bed with popcorn all in one weekend, but the later ones, I’ve mostly watched while meal prepping or playing on my phone. They’ve definitely gotten lower in quality in the later seasons, and I don’t love the plots as much–it’s probably time for this show to end, if we’re being honest, though I’ll keep watching seasons of it forever–so it’s become an easy one to turn on and do other things.
iZombie is both a rewatch & first watch show for me. It’s one of my favorite shows in general, and though I haven’t yet rewatched it, I know that I will eventually (while skipping the hella rushed finale, of course). This follows the same formula as shows like Supernatural & Doctor Who, and while it’s not monster-of-the-week, it’s dead-person-of-the-week like serial killers on a crime drama. A good chunk of it is gimmicky and fun, and while there are definitely some that you need a box of tissues for, there’s plenty more that don’t require a whole ton of brain power.
Prior to Atypical, I was watching Love, Victor as my meal prep show. Honestly, watching a contemporary while you’re in the kitchen is so easy (see below, as well), and it’s my favorite way to pass the time. Quick, bite-size episodes of under 30 minutes are my absolute jam. For someone who gets anxious sitting down for too long, I love quick shows, and these keep me on my toes while I’m chopping veggies.
My sister recently saw a meme that said the amount of times you’ve rewatched New Girl is indicator of where your mental health is at, and I–feel very attacked by that statement, especially considering I’d like to rewatch it for a third time. I literally just finished rewatching it a few months ago, though, and it’s probably too soon. I should wait. I’ve got other shows to watch. I could also watch this eight thousand times, it just never gets old, and though I love seeing Nick’s dumb faces, you can also walk away from this very easily.
Primeval is one of my old college loves, and I’ve been getting back into it over the past few months! I’m on season four now, I think? I took a break to watch some contemporary shows, but given that this follows the monster-of-the-week formula, but with dinosaurs, it’s very easy to just throw on. I will say that I watched this intensely when I first watched it, and I think I would do the same now if I was watching it for the first time, but the CGI is also occasionally horrendous, so I think I’d watch episodes like the damn sea slug thing in the lake–I don’t even know–with some distance just for integrity.
And last, but never least, is my childhood beloved, Will & Grace. I haven’t actually seen all of W&G, and I never will because, unlike Gilmore Girls, I’m not in the mood to binge my way through that. Truthfully, I don’t think I’d do that now with Gilmore Girls, that’s definitely a version of myself that’s a few years old, and I’m not friends with her anymore. But I grew up on W&G, and it was something that I watched often with my childhood best friend during sleepovers, and it’ll forever hold that nostalgia of watching TV late into the night when we were supposed to be in bed and giggling more over being rebels than we were paying attention to the show.