How Are TV Critics Handling Peak TV?

Last week, I wrote about my personal experience of trying to keep up with peak television — the unfathomable amount of scripted programming airing right now, and all the other series available for viewing on any number of platforms — but I’m also interested in how fellow TV critics are handling the phenomenon.

Watching television is a task in itself, but writing about it — often daily, whether as reviews or recaps or thinkpieces that analyze TV in the context of the broader culture — makes the peak TV era that much harder. Sometimes, it seems damn near impossible. Every September, I have a hard time trying to decide which new shows to cover (mostly because I want to cover all of them), how to cover them, and how many pre-air episodes I should watch before filing a review. Once I have that settled, there’s the question of which returning shows to cover — especially when one that I abandoned last season has been winning unanimous praise, making me feel like I absolutely need to return to it (and one day I will, Halt and Catch Fire).

But I’m clearly not the only critic with this problem. Many of my colleagues are facing the same questions. To get an idea of how various TV critics are dealing with the peak television conundrum and our ever-increasing workload due to the ever-increasing amount of TV, I asked a handful of writers — staff critics, culture editors, site founders, freelancers — to describe how they approach work, especially as we gear up for the new season. Their methods are sometimes similar, mostly different, and often familiar (especially because I’ve either worked alongside or been edited by a majority of them), but all provided insightful, thought-provoking answers.