couple-watching-tv-together

Modern relationships are all about communication, compromise, and content consumption. You’re going to be watching a lot of things with someone as you either fall in love with them or learn to hate them, and your viewing choices often match the evolving or deteriorating status of your relationship. To demonstrate, I’ve broken down the six queues that match six common relationship phases.

The Discovery Queue

During the “discovery” phase of a relationship, it actually doesn’t matter what you watch. If you’re sitting on a couch or lying in bed together for the first time,you’re going to be exploring more tangible preferences. While you do that, feel free to put on anything from a channel your antenna picks up to an episode of the Planet Earth documentary series. You won’t remember what you were pretending to watch, anyway. The extremely flexible discovery queue includes the following:

  • YouTube clips & music videos
  • Late night talk shows
  • Local news programs
  • Literally anything that can function as background noise

The Social Queue

The “social” phase is initiated when you and your special someone start to meet each other’s friends and families. This includes double dates and those frequent in-between times when routine social interactions are supplemented by something on a screen. The things you watch when socializing are diplomatic, mainstream, and sentimental. Some recurring entries in this queue are:

  • Syndicated sitcoms (Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Seinfeld, The New Adventures of Old Christine, The Golden Girls, Cheers, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, That 70s Show)
  • Award shows (Emmys, Oscars, Tonys, Golden Globes, Grammys, etc.)
  • Sports! Sports! Sports! (Sports!)
  • Televised holiday-themed parades (This is essentially Thanksgiving)
  • Anything with animals, but Not animals dying tragically (This is just the Internet)
  • Childhood videos you thought were destroyed (Be ready to answer for all costumes even though you didn’t choose them.)
  • Shows about families (Boy Meets World, Parenthood, Gilmore Girls)
  • Procedural shows of the legal and murdery varieties because murder makes for diplomatic viewing but sexual content does not? (Any Law & Order series, any CSI series, any NCIS series, Criminal Minds)
  • Saturday Night Live

The Cozy Queue

The ‘cozy’ phase of a relationship is self-explanatory. You are almost always blanket-wrapped, cocoa-wielding, and cuddling after long days at work. When you’re out you’re being adorable and grossing people out with your mad chemistry, wit, and aesthetic appeal. The specificity and absurdity of your inside jokes make for a special type of intimacy. You’re falling in love, and you’re probably watching things about people falling in love. Your sappy and sharply funny queue is below:

  • Charming workplace sitcoms (The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn 99)
  • Shows about lovable, flawed characters navigating life (The Mindy Project, Happy Endings, Seinfeld, New Girl, Freaks & Geeks, Ben & Kate, Catastrophe)
  • Inside joke meccas (Arrested Development, BoJack Horseman, 30 Rock, The IT Crowd, The Simpsons, Adventure Time, Rick & Morty, Bob’s Burgers)
  • Soapy, sexy Shows (Scandal, Empire)

The Prestige Queue

You have reached the ‘prestige’ stage of a relationship when you feel like you’ve figured it all out. You share edgy opinions with your significant other but also have healthy debates over wine. You make financial decisions and travel plans in preparation for a real commitment. What you need is some tastefully explicit viewing content that reminds you of the ways in which you and your person are better than everyone else. You also want some smart, funny stuff that’s easy to get mad about or reference at parties. Luckily, prestige shows actually comprise an entire genre of television. The queue goes like this:

  • Critically acclaimed dramas featuring strong couples (House of Cards, Friday Night Lights)
  • Critically acclaimed shows about important things (The West Wing, The Wire, Transparent, The Americans)
  • Critically acclaimed shows featuring provoking content you can get opinionated about (Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Mr. Robot)
  • Critically acclaimed shows about funny jerks (Veep, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Louie, You’re the Worst, Silicon Valley)
  • Critically acclaimed sketch comedy shows (Key & Peele, Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City)
  • Critically acclaimed satirical news programs (The Daily Show, The Nightly Show, Last Week Tonight)
  • Critically acclaimed Netflix, HBO & On-Demand Documentaries (Going Clear, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Half the Sky, The Jinx, What Happened, Miss Simone?)
  • Critically acclaimed shows you both never got around to watching but which remain critically acclaimed (Six Feet Under, Deadwood, The Sopranos)

The Lifetime Queue

What? You got married? That’s great! I’m so happy for you. You’re now in the “lifetime” phase of your relationship and very likely sharing both a bed and a DVR. Exciting, right? There is so much for you to watch. Most of it centers on other people chasing their dreams or spending large amounts of money. Your lifetime queue includes several examples of the following:

  • Singing competition shows (The Voice, American Idol)
  • Shows about talents that aren’t singing (Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, Ninja Warrior)
  • Shows about people superficially trying to find love (The Bachelor, The Bachelorette)
  • House Hunters International
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Extreme Home Makeover
  • Late night television viewed while reading in bed (The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live)
  • Stressful dramas about marriages falling apart, often due to murder (anything on The Lifetime Network, basically)

The Exit Strategy Queue

Happy endings are great, but sometimes you want out. Maybe you’ve been exploring  a steamy discovery queue with someone else. Maybe your cozy queue feels best when you just snuggle up solo. Maybe your prestige queue has raised your standards. In each of these cases, you’ll need an exit strategy. You also  need content that will help you stay vigilant and cranky as you begin to part ways. This  queue includes:

  • Shows you know you both hate (The Big Bang Theory, Entourage)
  • 24-hour news networks (CNN, FOX News, MSNBC)
  • Shows about couples in difficult situations (Naked and Afraid, Big Brother, 16 & Pregnant, Cheaters, Catfish)
  • Infomercials for workout equipment and/or kitchen appliances
  • Every reality show featuring real housewives, basketball wives, sister wives, dance moms, kitchen nightmares, paranormal investigators, people in financial shark tanks, religious fanatics, Kardashians, or toddlers (mostly in tiaras)

There’s a queue for every phase. You’ll know you’ve found someone special when you’re digesting content in sync, and you’ll know things are likely not going to work out when you’re watching the bad stuff on purpose.

Also, if you “don’t watch television,” then yours is a love I refuse to understand.