How to Prioritize Your Sunday Night TV Schedule

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HBO and AMC have really done it, haven’t they? With the debut of Veep at 10:30 Sunday, fans of good TV now have solid options on each network between nine and 11pm every Sunday. That means we’ll have to prioritize and maybe even — gasp — leave a few episodes unwatched by Monday morning. So, do we tune in to Lena Dunham and DVR Don Draper? How do we choose between The Killing and Game of Thrones? If we have to save something to watch later in the week, what should it be? After the jump, we provide some highly subjective suggestions.

1. Mad Men

There’s no getting around it: Mad Men is the show to clear your calendar for. It’s the one you look forward to watching with a living room full of friends, rye-based cocktails in hand. Even when a particular episode isn’t spectacular, it’s always entertaining. It’s been gone so long that the novelty of its return has yet to wear off. And you know that when you get to work in the morning, people are going to be talking about it. Mad Men isn’t just the best Sunday-night show; it’s the one you’re most likely to have spoiled for you if you don’t watch it in real time.

2. Girls

You know how we feel about Lena Dunham’s new HBO comedy. All (occasionally well-founded) backlash aside, it’s an insightful and mostly authentic-feeling look at the lives of a privileged 20-something group of friends making their way in New York, and it manages to make some hugely astute observations about post-college aimlessness while still giving us a lot to laugh at. Unfortunately, though, Girls overlaps with Mad Men. We say DVR it and watch after you’ve had your Don Draper fix.

3. Game of Thrones

Before the 10pm bottleneck, kick your evening off with your weekly dose of fantasy WTF. As spoilers go, Game of Thrones is second only to Mad Men for water-cooler-spoilage potential, and as the war for the throne heats up, it’s getting harder and harder to wait a week for each new episode. Plus, there’s always a chance you’ll get to see Joffrey slapped in the face, which should put you in a very good frame of mind for the week ahead.

4. Veep

As we concluded in our review, despite being somewhat less substantial than we had hoped, Veep is funny and enjoyable to watch, with sharp dialogue and a wonderful cast. We suggest you give it a few weeks to get going, but don’t worry about fitting a fourth series into your Sunday routine. Record the 10pm show while you’re watching Mad Men and watch it sometime before Thursday, when you’ll have the NBC primetime line-up to deal with.

5. The Killing

Have we mentioned that we’re not so big on The Killing these days, and don’t feel bad saying good-bye to it after the bait-and-switch Season 1 finale and inconsistent two-hour premiere a few weeks ago? So, we’ve cut the increasingly disappointing murder mystery series out of our TV diet, which makes it possible to get through all the Sunday-night shows we actually want to see before bedtime. But if you’re hooked on finding out who killed Rosie Larsen, we suppose we’ll allow you to DVR the episodes and play them at your leisure.