How to streamline your streamer content when the ‘To Watch’ list gets out of hand

With so much to catch up on, here’s how to beat spoilers, solve the 'What do you want to watch tonight?' conundrum and find the best content

With so much content available, knowing what to view and when will keep you on top of your ever-growing 'To Watch' list. Photo: Unsplash
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Full disclosure: At home, I have the following streamers and channels: Netflix, Amazon Prime, OSN, Apple TV+, Du and Disney+.

This means that, at last count, I had exactly 255 TV shows, films and documentaries saved across various “To watch” lists.

In the same way other people fill up their online shopping carts with all the things they would like for their birthday or Christmas, so do I continuously add to my lists the movies and shows I want to watch.

If my maths is correct (and it probably isn’t), I don’t have to leave the house, and more importantly my sofa, for the next 17.5 years – give or take.

We’re often told that the era of peak TV is over, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The Wire was peak TV, then it was The Sopranos (still not over that ending, by the way) then Game of Thrones (or that one), then Succession (Kendall’s name being underlined not crossed out is a hill I’ll die on), and so on.

In fact, the rumoured peak of high-quality television has been announced so many times, someone really ought to write a TV show about it. And I will add it to my watch list.

While I’m not here to recommend specific shows (although if you haven’t watched The Bear on OSN, we can never be friends), if, like me, you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by what to watch, I do have some suggestions on how to effectively and strategically manage your ever-growing watch list.

Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise

Some shows and films need to go straight to the top of the list. Take it from someone who had to avoid the internet, certain friends and her husband back in May 2019 in case someone let slip who finally got to sit on the iron throne in GoT before I had caught up.

Basically, if something is trending there’s no time to waste, so abandon your Gilmore Girls rerun and switch to the new one.

Give priority to the shows that are big now to avoid the disappointment of coming across a spoiler, because no matter how careful you are, it only takes one person to tell you that Mabel, Oliver and Charles all die at the end of Only Murders in the Building season 3 (they don’t, by the way, but let this be a lesson to you).

Find critics whose opinion you trust

Critics used to hold a lot of power and still do in some circles.

Before the internet, a bad review in a newspaper or magazine could destroy a movie, theatre show or restaurant, but these days with everyone able to post reviews and have the right to reply online, critique has become democratised.

In short, we’re all critics. Except when we’re not. And that’s where the experts come in.

For example, I unironically enjoyed the 2012 film Battleship because I happen to like aliens, mind-boggling plot premises and Alexander Skarsgard in naval uniform.

However, were I to recommend this film to people, I would have to face the very real prospect of being crossed off their Christmas card list.

What I’m saying is, don’t always look to friends for recommendations, but rather seek out critics whose tastes align with yours and see what they say is worth watching.

Look for stories, not stars

It used to be that a marquee name was all it took to approve a project then sell it to the masses.

The age of the surname-only movie star – Clooney, Pitt, Jolie, Roberts, Cruise – being enough to ensure a hit is long gone, and great content doesn’t need a big name attached to it these days.

When seeking a great show, look to the story (Who wrote it? What else have they written? Is it based on a book you enjoyed?), rather than the name-plating, because you’re not necessarily going to be into everything your favourite star puts out.

I very much enjoyed Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts in Iron Man, but I’m not buying into any of her wellness malarkey on

Similarly, I love Adam Driver and Scarlett Johannson, but Netflix’s Marriage Story featuring the pair of them yelling and crying, then yelling and crying some more was just one long bummer in my opinion.

In short, basing your tastes on the star power of a show or film isn’t the way to go these days.

Mood matters

“What do you fancy watching tonight?” is a frequently asked question in any household, second in divisiveness and ability to cause arguments only to the dreaded “What do you want for dinner?”

What you watch is a matter of mood and how you’re feeling at the time. A hard-hitting documentary or true crime series about a serial killer will hit different depending on the kind of day you’ve had. Likewise, being in that very specific frame of mind to sit through 90 minutes of classic Adam Sandler shtick.

For me, I can’t catch up on Netflix’s The Witcher if I’m not able to give it my full attention because I can’t remember all the names (Vilgefortz, Stregobor, Radovid, I rest my case).

But Bad Sisters on Apple TV+, despite its non-linear approach, was easy to follow and an excellent show.

So, there you have it. I’d love to stay and chat, but season two of Our Flag Means Death is not going to watch itself.

Updated: December 29, 2023, 6:02 PM