Your Guide To This Fall’s Sunday Night TV Schedule Free-For-All

Let’s say you’re someone who likes to stay up on television. Let’s say you love consuming prestige series in real-time whenever possible, so you can discuss it on social media that night and at work or on your favorite pop culture website the next day. Let’s say you hate leaving yourself open to spoilers, and you hate waiting to know something your friends and family know. If this sounds like you, Sunday night television has been a minefield over the past few years, as networks — broadcast and cable, alike — have taken to dropping many of their best, buzziest programs there rather than spread them out through the week. It’s a little infuriating.

This upcoming television season is no different, especially in the 9:00 p.m. hour. Come the second week in October, there will be at least six things airing simultaneously at that time that I want to watch. SIX. Granted, time-shifting options like DVRing and watching On Demand make this substantially easier than it would have been 15 years ago. I mean, I can’t afford six TVs and six cable boxes. And even if I could, how would I watch them all? I’d end up wondering what legal remedies Alicia Florek had against the flesh-devouring zombies that were terrorizing her town, or how much money Nucky Thompson had riding on the Steelers-Panthers game. It would be madness.

But I digress. The point is that you’re going to need to make some hard choices and do some creative DVR plate-spinning come Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. this fall, and even then you’ll still probably be running the risk of getting one of your favorite shows spoiled by the office loudmouth on Monday morning. Allow me to explain.

NBC – Sunday Night Football, Premieres September 7

Football is the elephant in the room here because, unlike the scripted programming it’s going up against, people still insist on watching it live. And if you’re watching Sunday Night Football live from beginning to end, that pretty much wipes out everything from 8:00-11:30. Considering it’s been the highest-rated program of the entire fall season for each of the last four years, there’s a pretty good chance that’s what’s happening, too.

HBO – Boardwalk Empire, Premieres September 7

The final season of Boardwalk Empire, which is zipping ahead in time to 1931 and looks like an absolute bloodbath from the first trailer, debuts the same night Sunday Night Football kicks off. If you’re the type of person that enjoys both violent games of sports about violent dramas about bootleggers and semi-fictional organized crime figures, this creates a dilemma, albeit a small one. It’s not entirely unreasonable to assume you could DVR this show and pound through it after the game, or even during the second half if the game is a yawner. This is doable. For now.

CBS – The Good Wife, Premieres September 21

I’m aware that most UPROXX readers do not watch The Good Wife and that making the case for it in the middle of a post about how many other quality shows are on an the exact same time is wildly self-defeating, but here goes anyway: The Good Wife is a good show. Not “good for CBS” or “good for a network drama,” just good. I wish more people watched it, if only so I could walk outside and scream “AAAHHHH WHAT IS CARY DOING????” and have cars in the area screech to a halt in the middle of the road so the drivers and I could talk it out. But alas.

Anyway, for those of you who do watch the show, goooood luck. In addition to going up against football and the final season of a prestige HBO drama, it also routinely gets its start time bumped back to like 9:37 by CBS’s afternoon NFL game, which makes DVRing it super annoying, especially if you want to record something else at 10:00. And it’s about to get more difficult.

SHO – Homeland, Premieres October 5

Oh, hello there award-winning terrorism drama that is undergoing a huge shift in focus and geography after a mixed season that saw you kill off a major character. How are we?

Yeah, this is where it starts getting ridiculous. Even if you don’t want to watch The Good Wife, you’re now in a position where you could have two full hours of intense television to watch starting at 11:30 heading into a Monday morning. It’s not quite as bad if you’re not a football fan, but still, the shows are starting to pile up.

FOX – Mulaney, Premieres October 5 (9:30)

Poor Mulaney. Poor, sweet Mulaney. I have been excited about stand-up comedian John Mulaney’s sitcom since way back when NBC announced the pilot. I was bummed out when NBC decided not to pick it up, and then I was excited when Fox saved it from the rubble heap, and I was hoping maybe it would get a nice cushy time slot on Tuesdays with New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine


Then Fox went and shook their whole schedule up and moved Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Mulaney to Sundays to split up The Simpsons and Family Guy, and now the plucky little comedy I’m rooting for is airing at 9:30 p.m. against America’s favorite sport, three perennial Emmy nominees, and…

AMC – The Walking Dead, Premieres October 12

Here’s the hammer. The most popular cable show on television returns the second week of October. This brings us to the six (6) things I was talking about up top, at least until Boardwalk Empire wraps up its shortened season a few weeks later. This is impossible. Something’s going to have to wait for Monday, and some of it may even need to wait until the middle of the week. That sound you heard is your DVRing sighing.

Best of luck, gang.