There are lots of shows coming back in September and October that we’re looking forward to, but only a few of them can make the cut for that precious hour or two that can be carved out for the after-bedtime hours that busy parents get. And even fewer have what it takes to pull you in and keep you up until 1am every night for days on end as you obsessively go through past season’s episodes to bring you up to current episodes.. My husband and I call them our “adult shows,” (I know. We need a new name.) and we only watch them after the kids are asleep and we can relax on the sofa together. Because many of the shows are racy cable fare, NO CHILDREN ALLOWED and remotes must be nearby to hit pause if we hear footsteps on the stairs.
With a lot of the juiciest shows on cable, which we don’t have, we have to watch them later or online, after the seasons are released. Thankfully, Netflix, iTunes, and Hulu Plus are making it easier (and cheaper) than ever to watch previous seasons of shows. So if you want to start watching a show that you feel like you’ve missed too much to begin watching mid-stream, now is the time to start catching up.
Check out this list of shows that you may have been the missing, but still have time to get up to speed before they start again in a month or few. Or, if you’re like me and have about 100 hours to catch up on in some shows’ cases, in time to buy this season when it comes out next year.
Grey’s Anatomy 1 of 14Premieres September 22 at 9 PM on ABC. It may have gone through a few doldrums during the course of it's seven seasons, but Grey's Anatomy came back with gusto last year and left us all dying to know how Merideth and Derek are going to work it all out this time, having given up on "happily ever after" a few seasons ago. Rolling it all the way back to the beginning would be a summer well spent, if a little soggy. Keep the tissues nearby!
The Good Wife 2 of 14Premieres September 25 at 9 PM on CBS. This excellent legal drama, starring the always intriguing Julianna Margulies, is an easy catch-up with only two seasons under it's belt. Be warned: After last seasons finale, don't start the new season until you are done with the old unless you are prepared for a huge SPOILER!
Parenthood 3 of 14Premieres September 13 at 10 PM on NBC. Sometimes I wonder if this is my favorite show because it depicts a family that shouts even more than mine. But then I think about how gracefully it handles so many real-life family situations, like when a son is diagnosed with Asperger's or when a previously good daughter starts to rebel. Watching the episodes from the first two seasons back-to-back would be easy business.
The Vampire Diaries 4 of 14Premieres September 15 at 8 PM on The CW. I wasn't a fan of the first season, which I tried wading through on a friend's strong recommendation, but the second season had me hooked almost immediately. In fact, the show gets better and better with every episode, so when season 3 starts in a couple weeks, you should jump right in. You can always watch season 2 during the winter hiatus.
Castle 5 of 14Premieres September 19 at 10 PM on ABC. I'm a late-comer to Castle, but am a huge fan of Nathan Fillion and keep hearing from everyone that this show is fantastic. Time to set the DVR and order up the first season.
Parks & Recreation 6 of 14Premieres September 25 at 9 PM on CBS. I find sitcoms a little bit tedious to watch a season at a time, but having completely missed the genesis of this great ensemble comedy, I want to go back to the beginning and see it all. This one would be great for catching up on while doing kitchen work.
Sons of Anarchy 7 of 14Premieres September 6 at 10 PM on FX. I still haven't caught up to the present season with this engrossing motorcycle gang drama, which is now going into its fourth season, but am thrilled to be along for the ride.
The Walking Dead 8 of 14Premieres October 16 at 9 PM on A&E. Who'd have thought that a zombie drama would make great television? Not me. And now I'm kicking myself because I'm a year behind on this show that consistently gets excellent reviews.
Dexter 9 of 14Premieres October 2 at 9 PM on Showtime. Dexter is the perfect show for watching a season at a time, because the cliffhangers that end many of the episodes will make you so happy you can skip immediately to the next one. The long-term state of suspense from watching so many episodes back to back might not be good for your blood pressure, though.
Gossip Girl 10 of 14Premieres September 26 at 8 PM on The CW. Gossip Girl is the guilty pleasure that my husband will have no part of, so I feel like I am always sneaking it in somewhere on the sly. It is over the top in almost every way and that is what makes it so very, very good. You'll be fine jumping in now, as the fifth season starts up, but, oh my word, you'll have fun plumbing the depths of past seasons and discovering all of the cast's dirty secrets!
The Office 11 of 14Premieres September 22 at 9 PM on NBC. Going into season 8, everything will be different as a new boss comes in to take Steve Carrell's place. This will make it the perfect time to start watching the show fresh or drop it from the roster. Whichever way you go, the first seven seasons are pure gold.
Community 12 of 14Premieres September 22 at 8 PM on NBC. Starting its third season, this quirky comedy is for all the people out there who love pop culture and meta humor. If that's your bag and you've missed it, now's the time to start.
Modern Family 13 of 14Premieres September 21 at 9 PM on ABC. Every character in this sitcom is so well-developed, that there isn't a need to backfill with past seasons. But you'll want to do just that once you realize how much comedy perfection you've missed.
True Blood 14 of 14Currently showing on HBO. True Blood is in it's fourth season and working hard to repair some of the damage done by its lackluster season 3, but I'm still a believer in the show, because NOTHING can compare to it's first season. Some of my best memories are of watching those eps with my husband, riveted, obsessed, and giddy all at once for its entire length. Maybe because every episode ends with a gruesome death, a spray of blood, or an orgasm? It is trashy fun of the best kind and is the purest antidote for feeling old, tired, and preoccupied with parental concerns.
Photo Credits, in order of appearance:
Photo by Ron Tom © 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Photo by Randy Holmes © 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Photo by DAVID M. RUSSELL © 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo © 2010 – NBC Universal
Photo by ANNETTE BROWN © 2011 THE CW NETWORK, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Photo by Matt Kennedy © 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Photo © 2011 – Fox
Photo by PRASHANT GUPTA
Photo by Gene Page/AMC © 2011 – AMC
Photo © 2011 – Showtime
Photo by Giovanni Rufino © Warner Brothers
Photo by Ron Tom © NBC Universal, Inc
Photo by Chris Haston © NBCUniversal, Inc
Photo by Lewis Jacobs © NBCUniversal, Inc.
Photo by Colleen Hayes © 2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Check out Babble’s Child TV Guide for age-appropriate shows!