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My Kid Completely Wrecked Binge-Watching For Me

Photograph by Netflix

Despite the fact that I write about a whole lot of different things these days, I still consider myself an entertainment journalist and TV critic. I've done it for over a decade, and interviewing producers, writers and actors about the shows they're on is still one of the most fun things I do. For instance, I just spoke to the producers of "The Americans" about the fourth season of the show and had a fascinating talk with them about how they keep things real episode after episode, one of the reasons I and many other critics think the show is one of the very best on TV.

As part of the research for that piece, I watched the first four episodes of the season. So I'm not only caught up on the show, I'm ahead of the game. But that's one of the few shows I can say that about. Since my wife Rachel and I brought our 15-month-old daughter Evyn home from the hospital in February last year, we haven't had a ton of time to watch the TV shows we used to love.

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When Evy was little, it was mostly because we were just too exhausted to concentrate on anything more complicated than sitcoms or reality shows. As she's gotten older, the issues have gotten more complicated. First, if we're putting her in front of the TV, we usually watch shows that are more her speed: like "Sesame Street" or "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood." Secondly, after getting her into her crib and eating dinner, we tend to have about a two-hour window before we both collapse. So we have to be really selective with what we choose to watch.

In the so-called "peak TV" era, that's a prescription for falling behind on shows. (In my case, way behind.) Shows are debuting and returning seemingly every week these days, so there's no chance to breathe and catch up. Why dive into a binge-watch of the latest season of "Homeland," for instance, when Netflix is about to drop the second season of "Daredevil" in our laps? It just becomes too much, and shows that we really want to see go by the wayside.

I refuse to let that happen without a fight. Here are three shows that I'm determined to catch up with:

1. Orange is the New Black

The fourth season starts in June, but we still haven't watched season three yet. It's not because we didn't want to see how Piper and the women at Litchfield federal prison handle life on the inside, it's because streaming shows tend to get short shrift with us when there's so much sitting and waiting for us on the DVR. But the other night, I insisted we bypass whatever we have recorded to watch the first two episodes of season three, figuring it'll get us in the mood for a modified binge (i.e. a couple of episodes at a time over a few weeks). As expected, we were sucked right back in.

When Rachel and I think of the hours and hours we used to sink into the show, watching Adam Levine and Blake Shelton goof on each other, Christina Aguilera preen, and Pharell Williams spout his musical wisdom, only to see the same three country singers and belters go to the finals every season, we started to question some of the choices we've made in our lives.

2. Marvel's Jessica Jones

I keep hearing that "Jessica Jones" is one of the best comic adaptations on TV right now, and that Krysten Ritter is fantastic. Firstly, I'm a Ritter fan going back to "Gilmore Girls," and I hear this is her best role yet. But if I haven't watched "Orange" yet, how can I justify watching "Jessica"?

3. The People v. O.J. Simpson

We started recording it, but about four episodes in, I forgot to set the DVR for it. After that, we just needed the space, so it got deleted. I keep hearing great things about it, though. I hope I can find it on-demand or on a streaming network at some point. How can we bypass a series where David Schwimmer plays Robert Kardashian and John Travolta looks more like Liberace than Robert Shapiro?

Of course, there are also shows that have fallen into the "life's too short" category for me and my wife, meaning that we'll likely never pick them back up again:

1. The Walking Dead

This was a show I watched by myself, and I fully intended to watch last season's second half, which debuted shortly after we brought Evy home. But the growling sound of the zombies was just something I couldn't play with a sleeping infant nearby, even with the volume low. At a certain point this past summer, I deleted it. Maybe it's because I'm a father now, but I'm just not in the mood to follow the grim parade of the survivors from place to place. From everything I've heard about this current season (like the "Is Glenn dead?" kerfuffle), it wasn't a big loss for me.

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2. The Voice

When Rachel and I think of the hours and hours we used to sink into the show, watching Adam Levine and Blake Shelton goof on each other, Christina Aguilera preen, and Pharell Williams spout his musical wisdom, only to see the same three country singers and belters go to the finals every season, we started to question some of the choices we've made in our lives. With a kid, four to five hours of it per week (48 minutes if you fast-forward through the filler) is just too much.

3. House of Cards

This one is still a "maybe." We're now two seasons behind; we stopped at the end of season two, when Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood schemed his way to the presidency. The show was getting pretty ridiculous by that point, so we're lukewarm about picking it up again. Besides, the 2016 election has given us our fill of insane political theater, so watching HoC might just feel redundant.

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