Image Source: Netflix
Ever since Netflix's Tidying Up With Marie Kondo became a viral sensation, people have been applying Kondo's signature method to everything in their lives. For me, though, it's not my closet or my pantry that needs revamping — it's my TV schedule. As a pop culture writer, I watch a lot of TV, and it's easy to get sucked into watching something or get stuck in old habits. I tried the KonMari method for cutting down my watchlist, and I have never been happier.
The fundamental premise of Kondo's method is asking, "Does this spark joy?" The catch, though, is that every single show on my TV schedule brought me joy at some point, or else I wouldn't still be watching it. Just thinking about each show did bring up nostalgic memories of how much I loved watching it. So I knew I'd have to come up with a system for figuring out if it currently sparked joy or not.
So here's what I did: over the course of a few weeks (because no one's got time to binge-watch a ton of TV anymore!), I revisited an old favorite episode from each show, then the most recent one. I went off of gut reactions: did the new episodes still draw me in, or did the older episodes feel significantly more fun to watch? If the old favorites were the only ones I enjoyed, or if the new episodes seemed dull in comparison, it seemed like a pretty good indicator that I was watching the show for nostalgia's sake, not for its current iteration.
Frankly, I'm only a little surprised at what did and didn't make the cut. There are several shows that I started watching enthusiastically years ago, but have trailed off on a bit in recent years — think letting a few episodes build up on the DVR rather than watching live every week. I've always been a serious junkie for superhero shows, but almost all of them got the cut this way. Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl all were dumped from my regular schedule.
Let's also be honest here: I write about pop culture for a living, so I do wind up watching shows that I normally wouldn't so that I can cover them accurately. That's definitely a factor here: do I clear out those shows and thank them for what they brought to me, or do I stick with them "just in case?" My decision, ultimately, was to clear out the space in my schedule on a rotating basis: keeping a few slots open for shows I need to watch for work, then letting them go when the job is done. I've learned to separate "work watching" from "fun watching," and the defining factor is that "sparking joy" barometer.
Image Source: ABC
So what did make the cut and still spark joy? Turns out, I have a type when it comes to TV shows. I like quirky stuff that's smart and witty, with some sort of genre-bending twist. The Magicians passed with flying colors and came out on top as one of my favorite shows currently airing. DC's Legends of Tomorrow also made the cut, and it's the only superhero show that did — turns out that I'm a bit burnt out on angst, but the lighter, weirder (much weirder) style of Legends keeps me on board. Two shows that are ending soon also fell into this category: Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I've just started Roswell, New Mexico, but it's definitely staying. And, much to my surprise, Grey's Anatomy has come full circle: years ago, I was obsessed with the show, then several years went by where I got bored, but the latest season has pulled me back in for real. How to save a life (or keep a viewer), indeed.
Over on Netflix, I've realized that I'm definitely one of those people who hops onto all the cool new shows, only to trail off after half a season. After running through my queue, I found a handful of shows that are staying long-term: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, the Spanish period drama Cable Girls, The Great British Baking Show, and Schitt's Creek. The rest, I gave myself permission to trail off.
If you're looking to clear out your TV schedule using this method, it's pretty easy. Listen to your gut instincts as you sift through shows, and if you go about it like I did, you can separate out nostalgia from current enjoyment. The most important thing, though, is the part of KonMari'ing that a lot of people forget: saying thank you for the joy the shows you're quitting have brought you. By cutting them now, you get to keep those fond memories without marring them by turning them into a TV obligation. If you're dying to know what happens but don't want to commit the time to watching, there are always recaps. Plus, this means you have room to bring in new shows when you find something else that sparks your interest and your joy, and that's always a good thing!