Feedback: Here’s How My Friends Find Time for All These Popular Shows

After last week’s article, several friends shared how and why they track best-reviewed popular culture.
on Jan 18, 2019

Last week’s article posed a question: “I Can’t Follow All These Popular Shows and Movies; How Do You People Do It?

I wasn’t being rhetorical. Instead, I truly wanted to know how this was possible to keep up with so many new, niche, and/or popular shows, especially given the time constraints I often feel just to keep up with the stories and franchises I already enjoy.

Fortunately, several of my friends, via my share of the article on the ol’ Facebook profile, stepped in to explain.

Q. How do you keep up with all these popular shows and movies?

Answer from Scott Garbacz:

Personally, I’m kinda the opposite. I love these lists [of the best movies of 2018] not because I expect to watch everything on them, but because they give me the sort of titles that feed my mind and soul.

I’m already going to watch all the Disney-produced popcorn films, be they great (The Last Jedi, probably Into the Spider-Verse), decent (Infinity War), or okay (Spider-Man Homecoming). I don’t need a list to keep those on my radar.

But films like First Reformed, Calvary, The Innocents, and whatnot feed my soul in a way these popcorn films don’t. But they don’t have a massive multi-million-dollar ad campaign telling me to watch them. So I really appreciate these lists that remind me that these type of movies do exist, are being made, and are worth seeing.

I don’t care that I’m not going to watch all the movies on the list. I just care that the lists are there, to remind me of movies that might be profoundly worth watching. So that when I *do* have time to watch one of these films, I have a place to start.

Answer from Wade Bearden, staff writer and host of Seeing and Believing Podcast at Christ and Pop Culture:

Very rarely will you find someone who is an expert in everything. The great thing about all of these Top Ten lists is that we do get to hear from people who are experts (or at least very knowledgable) in their respective fields or hobbies.

I’m not up to date on 2018 music and have missed many of the popular television shows, so I might not have seen, heard, or even know about some of the best of the year. But it can be helpful for when I have more time to explore.

As a film critic, I have seen most of the big or acclaimed 2018 movies, but there’s always a give and take for that to happen. I have two kids, so to see more movies I have to give up something (and I don’t give up time with them). So I don’t watch cable. I limit the TV shows I watch on a regular basis. I watch a little bit of sports, but not much outside of two teams (and most of the time I watch those games with family). I don’t play video games unless it’s Nintendo with my son. I lose sleep sometimes!

Everyone has their interests and hobbies (and some get paid to write and talk about their interests—which is a bonus). For some it just happens to be movies or music or fantasy novels or etc. Some people watch Daredevil S3. Others watch 5-6 independent or foreign films instead because that’s what they like.

Plus, it’s good to be challenged sometimes. We’ve probably all heard the “eat more vegetables” analogy at least once.1

Answer from Seth T. Hahne, artist, comics creator, writer/founder at

I think the point of these lists is to give you a place to start when you sit down and think “I wonder what I should watch?” Nobody expects a non-critic/non-connoisseur to see more than one or two on these lists.

Think of it like this. I put out an annual Top 100 graphic novel list, because that’s my thing. I don’t do it to shame readers. I do it to help them. With all the graphic novels I read every year, I still don’t come close to reading everything good that comes out. If that’s the case for me, the person who reads maybe five or ten per year (or less) is going to be overwhelmed by choice.

So I curate a list for them of the best stuff I could find, letting them know: There’s great stuff out there and great stuff for you!

There’s no judgment, just exuberance for good stuff.

For my part, I often think too often about how “much” TV I watch. It’s probably still too much.

But, in comparison to other folks, our watch time could actually be fairly limited.

My wife and I usually view one or two 25-minute stories on weekday evenings. Otherwise, we’ll try one 45-minute story. Then that’s it.

On Friday and/or Saturday nights, we usually try a longer film.

As for movies with theater-exclusive releases, our tastes stay fairly mainstream. The last few limited-release films we saw all related to anime: Your Name and A Silent Voice (both 2017 in the U.S.), and, jumping to a more popular franchise, My Hero Academia: Two Heroes (2018).

High culture.

Otherwise, we simply haven’t the time or motivation to see smaller or more “indie” films. We don’t feel called in that direction. If we did, it would be solely for (what most people define or disregard as) straight entertainment purposes. We couldn’t justify these as any kind of missional strategy.2 In our circles, no one would have heard of these films. And in our immediate “cultures,” if we casually mentioned we had gone to see such-and-such indie film, we would create distance, not neighborly hospitality, between us and other people.

But apart from potential “engaging culture for Christ”–style missional strategies, I simply don’t have a natural interest in some of these of stories. Which would also make these pursuits contrary to my chief purpose: worshiping God through enjoying stories people create.

  1. Edited slightly to add some paragraph breaks.
  2. Whether or not “seeing movies,” popular or indie, counts as a valid missionary strategy is a subject for several more articles. That’s outside my scope here.
E. Stephen Burnett explores fantastical stories for God’s glory as publisher of and its weekly Fantastical Truth podcast. He coauthored The Pop Culture Parent and creates other resources for fans and families, serving with his wife, Lacy, in their central Texas church. Stephen's first novel, a science-fiction adventure, launches in 2025 from Enclave Publishing.

What say you?