04/03/2013 08:01 pm ET | Updated Jun 03, 2013

Reprioritizing TV: How I Spent My New Baby Vacation


Keeping a clean and carefully edited DVR has always been important to me. As a TV journalist, it feels like part of the job. But then I got pregnant, had a baby and went on 16 weeks of maternity leave, and I'm here to confess that all DVR hell broke loose.

I'm not saying that I've been exhausted or too tired to watch TV -- I watched quite a bit actually -- but it's what I watched that was most surprising to me. While new additions to a family force to you reprioritize a bit, nothing in my life has shifted more than my TV watch list.

Now that I'm back at work playing catch-up on casting news, pilots in the works and a seemingly insurmountable inbox full of emails, I'm able to see that my maternity leave "vacation" viewing was split into three distinct categories: to-do list TV, light and fun favorites and a heavy dose of reality crap.

To-Do List TV
You can't watch everything -- at least that's what I tell myself when I admit I'm not caught up on "Breaking Bad" and people's jaws hit the floor. With the final few episodes of AMC's addictive series premiering this summer, my to-do list deadline seemed more important than ever. So I did it. I caught up. That is my crowning TV achievement of the year and now I share your shock and disappointment that it took me so damn long.

I also caught up on "Louie." Seriously, why doesn't everyone watch Louis C.K.'s FX masterpiece?

"House of Cards," on the other hand, was not as easy to binge on. Netflix's first original series seemed like a no-brainer for me, and I especially loved that every episode would be available at once. Unfortunately, I lost interest somewhere around Episode 5, when I could no longer watch Kevin Spacey talk to the camera without thinking of Foghorn Leghorn and laughing hysterically. I'm assuming that's not the reaction they were going for. I'll blame this one on a certain delirium that comes with spending all day with a newborn, and hopefully, when I give it a second chance, there won't be any visions of animated Looney Tunes characters in my head.

Light And Fun Favorites
"What's your favorite show?" is an impossible question for me to answer. Honestly, there are quite a few, all for very different reasons. But the more serious favorites -- like TNT's "Southland," AMC's "The Walking Dead" and even Fox's now-dearly departed "Fringe" -- took a backseat to lighter dramas and comedies during my maternity leave. I'm several episodes behind on each of those shows (please don't spoil the "Fringe" series finale for me -- I've come this far!), but am somehow completely caught up on ABC's "Scandal," "Grey's Anatomy" and "Nashville" and, yes, even NBC's "Smash."

For some reason, the stakes on those shows don't feel as high, so if I need to fold some laundry or Instagram cute pictures of the baby during a scene, I don't feel like I'm falling behind. (Except "Scandal," of course, which is still so fast-paced and so insanely good that I can't look away for a second.) I'm also up-to-date on Fox's "The Following" and FX's "The Americans," both dramas that require a bit more attention, but they're also new and somehow my brain knows to lock in.

Comedies are simpler. "Happy Endings," "New Girl," "The Mindy Project," "Community," "Modern Family" and "Girls" are easily digestible and always fun to watch after a long day. The fact that there aren't any episodes of those shows stacking up, but several episodes of the CW's "Arrow" ... well, it's a choice I guess. My choice to still watch "1600 Penn" is not as clear, but some things are beyond explanation.

"The Voice," "Face Off," "Top Chef," "Shark Tank," the "Housewives" and "Project Runway" have always been reality TV mainstays in my house, but the past few months, I've delved a bit deeper in the reality TV well and ended up watching things like "Ink Master." Yes, I'm several episodes behind on a few favorite high-quality shows, but I saw every episode of Spike TV's Dave Navarro-hosted tattoo reality show. I mean, people are letting their bodies be tattooed for each challenge! It's insane. And I watched it. Also, insane.

Other shows that really won during my baby vacation were Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" and Fuse's "Billy On the Street" with comedian Billy Eichner. If my child can one day understand the intensity of Plead the Fifth or the hilarity of Quizzed in the Face, then I've done my job.

Now that I'm back at work, it's perfect timing for the return of AMC's "Mad Men" and the premiere of "Hannibal" on NBC, and I did sit down to watch the "Game of Thrones" Season 3 opener -- I'm hoping that means my brain is back as well. But if I slip up and start watching celebrities diving on "Splash," it's time to send help.

Tell me: What are the shows that you never miss, no matter how busy you are?