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2018: My Top 5 Movies, TV Shows + Books

M O V I E S 

5. Mary Poppins Returns: You just can’t leave this movie without a smile on your face and a hop in your step. Pardon the cliché, but Emily Blunt is practically perfect in every way. The magic of the original movie was not only captured, but enhanced for another generation to love this enchanting story.

4. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Netflix): Okay, this is probably the cheesiest movie on my list and I’m sure to get some eye rolls, but guys, I LOVED this movie. Like, seriously, cheesy, rom-com loved this movie. The story is adorable, the acting is surprisingly good and we were all introduced to Noah Centineo, so there’s that.

3. A Star Is Born: You might be surprised this isn’t #1, but regardless this was a fantastic movie. I mean, Bradley Cooper as actor, director, writer, producer – can that man do any wrong? And Lady Gaga, OH MY GOSH Lady Gaga – I have an entirely new respect for her now. Also, how many times have we all collectively listened to “Shallow”?!

2. A Quiet Place: This is shockingly in the #2 spot, probably shockingly because I typically dislike scary movies. This one is SO unique though. Pre-Birdbox mania, this post-apocalyptic movie without sound keeps you holding your breath literally the entire movie. Also, can we give it up for cutest ever husband-wife duo John Krasinski + Emily Blunt (again!)!!

1. Bohemian Rhapsody: I LOVE LOVE LOVED this movie! The story, the music, the acting – Rami Malek is phenomenal. I’ve loved him since Mr. Robot, but I’m so glad he got to show the world how amazing he is. I couldn’t stop singing Queen for days and the movie just made me so very happy.

T V   S H O W S

Y’all, if you don’t know this about me – I watch a lot of TV, like A LOT. And I love it and am not ashamed by it. This list is always the hardest for me to write every year, but when it comes down to it – I just try and think about what shows I’m most excited to watch every week, so here it is:

5. Outlander – Starz: This was #2 on the list last year (when I binged the entire series), so it’s not quite as high up there this year and this season has been a little slower, but I still adore this show so freaking much and it’s one of my favorite love stories of all time.

4. The Assassination of Gianni Versace – FX: This show captivated me. I was fascinated by Andrew Cunanan (the assassin) and obviously the portrayal by Darren Criss – who deserves ALL the awards. It’s honestly less about the assassination of Gianni Versace and more a mental psych study of Cunanan.

3. You – Lifetime: Okay y’all, this one shocked me how much I loved it. I noted it as a new show to watch early in the season because it’s a psychological thriller with Penn Badgley (aka gossip girl) and my favorite pretty little liar Shay Mitchell. But, this show. THIS. SHOW. Watch it on Netflix now. This role was MADE for Badgley, and you’ll be thoroughly creeped out, but loving it by the finale.

2. Younger – TV Land: Looking for a show that’s funny and heartwarming and has the best wardrobe and the best girlfriends and the best love triangle? (Oh and Lizzie McGuire all grown up!?) This is it. Please watch it now, and text me when you love it as much as I do. #TeamJosh

1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Amazon: Can Amy Sherman-Palladino do no wrong?! Also … can Rachel Brosnahan do no wrong?! This show continues to top my list thanks to the phenomenal acting, gorgeous set and costume design, and exciting plot. Give them all the awards, please and thank you.

Honorable mentions:
Riverdale – The CW, Dirty John – Bravo, The Crown – Netflix, The Good Place – NBC

 

B O O K S

5. Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis: Y’all know I love a good self-help book (Carry On, Warrior, Lean In) and this one was no exception. What I loved about this one though, is how structured and specific it was. Each chapter is about a lie we tell ourselves. For example, “I’m defined by my weight” or “I can’t get past this”. Rachel does a fantastic job of breaking down the lie, giving a personal anecdote and sharing 3 specific ideas on how to combat these lies in our lives. Highly, highly recommend. You should also follow her on Instagram because she’s awesome.

4. The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang: This book was so stinkin’ adorable! I would characterize it as Eleanor Oliphant (another favorite) meets 50 Shades of Gray – yes, it’s steamier than you’re expecting, but has such a great story about a 30-year-old woman with Asperger’s who just wants to learn how to date. I don’t want to say much else, just read and fall in love with this fun, original, sexy book.

3. The Last Time I Lied – Riley Sager: It’s been a while since a thriller has kept me in suspense the ENTIRE BOOK. And a while since I’ve stayed up late (1am!) finishing a book because I had to know what happened. It’s basically Pretty Little Liars goes to summer camp, so I was obviously interested from the get go, but the storytelling is just fantastic without a single dull moment.

2. Women in Sunlight – Frances Mayes: From the author of Under the Tuscan Sun, this book did everything I wanted it to and more. The story follows four older women whose children want to put them in a retirement home, but instead become quick friends and decide to move to Tuscany. I laughed, I cried and I was transported back to Italy with every single page. The writing is terrific, changing with the character’s perspectives, and the story will give you passion to do something radical.

1. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman: This book. Oh my goodness, this book. As a friend said, “YOU ARE IN FOR A DELIGHTFUL TREAT.” It’s so charming, yet so unexpected. You fall in love with the main character by the end, despite thinking you’re not sure how you can possibly relate to her at the beginning. It’s an uplifting, feel-good book, but with serious substance.

What were your top TV Shows, Books + Movies of the year? I’d love to know!
xo xo

[Catalog – 201720162015201420132012]

 


2017: My Top 5 TV Shows + Books

T V   S H O W S 

While I’ve done this annual post 6 years running now, this year was by far the hardest to narrow down to my top 5 favorite shows. TV is KING, and I hardly have enough time to watch everything on my list. I’m sure you will all disagree with my picks …  I’m okay with that, and would love to hear your thoughts. I’m even faltering at the last minute on my top 5 as I post this, but here we go.

5. This Is Us – NBC: I’m sure some of you will think I’m such a sucker, but this show has me wrapped around its little finger. I cry every single episode – to which Husband asks me why I watch, and I have no answer. I cry and laugh and am inspired and cry some more. Everyone can find something to relate to in the show, and it only keeps getting better. Lord help us all when we finally find out how Jack dies.

4. Master of None – Netflix: Another show that will make you laugh and cry and laugh some more. It starts out in the Italian countryside with all the pasta and wine, so maybe I was partially bias watching before our Italian adventure, but this show is just incredible. Aziz has created something so unique and heartwarming that it’s truly hard to put in to words. Just watch.

3. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – Amazon: This show was hyped so much as “a new favorite for Gilmore Girls fans” that I was seriously skeptical. Well, look where it is on the list. It cannot be hyped enough! Set in 1950s NYC, it’s about a witty, newly single woman trying to make it as a comedian. The writing is outstanding and you will fall in love with Midge Maisel, played by Rachel Brosnahan, and want to watch it again and again. A new favorite it is.

2. Outlander – Starz: Why do I LOVE this show so much?! I honestly can’t believe it myself (since I often claim how much I hate period pieces), and can’t even remember why I started watching it, but I quickly became obsessed with the time-traveling love story. If you only watch it for Jamie Fraser, that’s enough for me, but whether you like it or not you’ll get sucked into the series.

1. Game of Thrones – HBO: Trust me, I’m as shocked as anyone that this is my number 1 … a show that has never been on my list before! We tried it when it first started, and I didn’t think I liked it. Then we re-started it and binged 4 seasons last year leading up to the latest, and holy cow, I couldn’t believe how hooked I was. This show has everything you could ever want in a show – and ended with a sultry/scandalous love story that left me breathless for the final season.

Honorable Mentions: Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale, Younger (still one of my favorite comedies!), The Good Place (give this show a chance – I promise you won’t regret it)

 

B O O K S 

5. Option B – Sheryl Sandberg: I’ve already written an entire blog post about this book, so I’ll keep this short. This book rips you apart, then helps put you back together again. I want everyone to read it – especially if you’re grieving or if you’re close to someone who is.

4. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng: This book and the next are very different than my typical reads, and I’m so glad I tried something new. Little Fires Everywhere is a slow burn. Literally. You see the ins and outs of two family dynamics and how they become intertwined. While there were several surprises throughout, the book mostly just leaves you contemplative.

3. Sourdough – Robin Sloan: This book is great and hilarious and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s such an easy read about a young woman developer who turns baker through a funny happenstance. I learned a lot about sourdough starters (of which I knew nothing), and genuinely enjoyed this quirky book all the way through.

2. The Girls – Emma Cline: This book has been on my list for forever, finally became available at the library, and oh my gosh I devoured it! Set in 1960s California, the book follows a teenage girl who gets caught up in a cult that ends very very badly. I was fascinated not only with the cult, but also the transformation of the main character. If you’re interested in cults at all or just want a unique read that will pull you in, this is for you.

1. Lilac Girls – Martha Hall Kelly: I have two typical genres of favorite books – thrillers with female leads + WWII historical fiction. This is the latter, following three very different women throughout the war and how their experiences shaped them for years to come. It’s unique in it’s perspectives (one a concentration camp doctor and one a prisoner) and is written in such beautiful detail, that you will be transported in time and come back remembering how very thankful you are.

[You can read all my book reviews here.]

Previously, I have also shared my top movies of the year. However, I’ve stopped watching as many movies and focused on TV shows. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two top movies – Dunkirk and Wonder Woman. Both amazing in very different ways.

What were your top TV Shows, Books + Movies of the year? I’d love to know!
xo xo

[Catalog – 20162015201420132012]


“I hope this song starts a craze”

Lately, Husband and I have been reminiscing a lot about favorite bands, nostalgic bands (often one in the same) and concerts we’ve attended together.

It started a few months back when Husband created a “High School Jamz” playlist. It was such a throwback and we have had so much fun listening to it and singing to it – even as often as last night, belting out our favorite Brand New songs after our Valentine’s Day dinner at home.

Every time we go to a concert, I always think how fun it is and how we need to go to concerts more often. Who doesn’t love live music?? We are so lucky to have an amazing outdoor venue less than 2 miles from our house, and this year they’re bringing several of our favorite nostalgic artists.

We’ve purchased tickets to 3 concerts so far this year – Blink 182 in April and Third Eye Blind with Silversun Pickups in July, and the one we’re most excited about – Radiohead in Kansas City in April. This will be a huge concert to check off the bucket list.

While I’ve been excitedly planning for the upcoming concerts, I’ve also been reminiscing about our early concert days –

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Our first concert together was Taking Back Sunday and Jimmy Eat World in Ft. Smith. My parents drove me, Husband (then boyfriend) and friend Nicole down. Sadly these were the pre-smartphone days so I have no photos to speak of, but the three of us still talk about how much fun we had.

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[Dashboard Confessional and Brand New, Conway 2006]
With Dashboard lead singer Chris Carrabba + us outside of Brand New’s tour bus

P.S. it was FREEZING and we waited out back for hoursssssss to meet them #WorthIt

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[Foo Fighters, University of Arkansas 2007]

This photo was actually taken while waiting outside for the tickets a few months before the show. Somehow I cannot find a single photo of the actual concert even though it was one of the best shows we’ve ever been to. We went with two of our favorite people and stood feet from Dave Grohl as he played for hours and hours and had so so much fun.

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[Brand New, Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa 2007]

I don’t remember much about this concert … but glad I found this one picture of the guitarist hanging upside down, ha!

img_0092[Dear and the Headlights, Jimmy Eat World and Paramore, Springfield 2008]
With lead singer of Dear and the Headlights

img_0093[Vans Warped Tour: Blink 182, Weezer, Taking Back Sunday, Kansas City, 2009]

Of course, I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention our two stops to Red Rocks in Denver to see our new favorite band The National –

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[Frightened Rabbit, Local Natives and The National, 2013]

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[The National, 2016]

Excited to make more concert memories with Husband this summer and in the years to come!

xo xo


Here’s the thing about Seinfeld …

It’s funny. It’s relatable. It’s pop culture.

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Growing up, of course I’d seen Seinfeld reruns on TV, but I never watched many of them. I knew the characters. I knew the soup nazi and festivus, but other than that it was just another TV show.

When Hulu added the entire series, Husband and I decided we had to start from the beginning and see what the heck this show was really about. Of course, now we know, it’s really about nothing. Literally, the show about nothing. We are 5 and a half seasons in (out of 9) and here’s what I’ve realized …

It’s funny.

I mean, I always thought it was funny when I would see reruns on TV, but it is fuuuunnnnnny. Husband and I struggle to find comedies to watch these days that make us laugh out loud consistently, but this one never fails us. I’ve talked to several people who asked, “does it really still hold up?” “is it really funny even to millennials?” YES. YES. YES. It’s easy, clean, good humor. And every episode we talk about how they bring it full circle in the most perfect way.

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It’s relatable.

Okay, so we know it’s the show about nothing, but the funny thing is, since we’ve been watching the show we’ve had strange instances where we will personally experience things that we just saw in an episode. For example, we watched an entire episode about saving seats in the movie theater. Two days later, we went to see Star Wars Rogue One and I swear it was like we were playing out that episode. Another example, we watched an episode about getting lost in a parking garage (still one of my favorite eps) and a few weeks later we could not find our way out of a parking garage!

That’s why this show is so funny in such a unique way – you can relate to every episode because it’s the mundane things that happen to everyone. You laugh because you totally get it.

We just watched an episode where the person in the stall next to Elaine wouldn’t give her any toilet paper “I can’t spare a square” – I just know that will happen to me soon, and I will lose my sh*t.

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It’s pop culture.

How can I, a lover of all things pop-culture, not watch Seinfeld?? Seinfeld is one of those shows that everyone knows and everyone quotes and if you don’t know it, you feel so left out. Even 20 years later! At a work Christmas party someone brought a mug that said, “The jerk store called …” with George’s face on it. We clearly hadn’t gotten to that episode so I had no clue what it meant, but everyone else did. So we sped ahead and watched it and it was hilarious. Literally ONE WEEK LATER, we were in a museum in Washington D.C. and I overheard someone saying, “The jerk store called …” HA! I understood the reference! It was a proud, personal Seinfeld moment.

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What are your favorite Seinfeld episodes or favorite quotes?

xo xo


2016: My Top 5 TV Shows + Books

T V   S H O W S 

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5. Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life Netflix: I have been on pins and needles waiting for this show for a year. Well, actually more than that since I’ve wanted more ever since it ended!! I was so concerned it wouldn’t live up to my high expectations, and while it clearly wasn’t my number 1 for the year, it definitely makes the top 5. There were a few quirks about it I didn’t love, but overall I felt like I was chatting with my old friends again, going to my old haunts and swooning over my old boyfriends (#TeamJess). I binged this all day with a friend and it just made me so, so happy. Full blog post to come soon.

4. The Crown  Netflix: This show is absolutely fascinating. If you have any interest in the Royal family or British history, then this should be a must on your list to get an inside look at the rise of Queen Elizabeth II at 25 years old (crazy!!). The acting is absolutely phenomenal and the show is extremely well made. I can’t wait for more seasons as they introduce Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

3. Younger – TV Land: I love this show!!! This is the show I’m dying to watch every single week and indulge myself in without husband. The characters are so fun and relatable, and makes me wish I was in the publishing industry in NYC. This season they introduced a love triangle that pulls at all the heartstrings. (#TeamJosh) It just ended and I’m already dying for more!

2. Westworld HBO: I was super skeptical about watching this. All of our friends claimed they stopped watching The Walking Dead and started watching this instead. So while it took me a minute to give it a chance, I was hooked from the very first episode. It is sooooo creepy and will have you seriously concerned about the future of AI, but you won’t be able to tear yourself away.

1. Stranger Things Netflix: It can’t be a surprise to anyone that this was my number 1 show of the year. We dressed up as the kids for Halloween, and we found and stood in line for a Stranger Things bar over Christmas. If you love 80s nostalgia, being a little bit scared and rooting for a group of adorable kids then put this first on your list.

Way to go, Netflix! Seriously, they are stepping up their game in the original TV show department – 3/5 on my list! Sadly, there were a few shows this year that have been on my list in previous years, but are slowly declining … namely, The Walking Dead.

B O O K S 

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5. Bread & Wine – Shauna Niequist: I.am.obsessed.with.this.book. I seriously could  read it all over again right now. The author shares life stories and intermingles them with her favorite recipes. I felt like I was in her kitchen, living life with her, breaking bread and drinking wine. She is so honest and transparent, and shares her faith in such an amazing way.

4. Along the Infinite Sea – Beatriz Williams: This book captured me from the first chapter. It tells the story of two very different women, one growing up in WWII and one in 1960s America, and how their lives intertwine. This is a dazzling love story that will sweep you off your feet, thanks to the incredible writing. By the end I was bawling and dying for more.

3. The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah: I adored this book! Set in France in WWII following two stories, it was reminiscent of All The Light We Cannot See (my #1 book of 2015). The character development was phenomenal and the writer painted the scenes so well. At one point I was crying so hard because I felt like I was in an internment camp and told husband through bleary eyes how I just couldn’t get over the fact that this happened in real life. Yes, there are some sad parts, but I promise you will not regret reading it.

2. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes: This book surprised me so much by how much I enjoyed it. It had been on my reading list for a couple of years now, and I finally decided to give it a shot when I saw it at the library. It is such a beautiful tragic love story that makes you fall in love with the characters and then cry your eyes out at the end.

1. Brain on Fire – Susannah Cahalan: This is one of those books (like I’ve said before in my reviews) you just HAVE to read! Seriously, go buy it right now. It’s a true story about a 24-year-old journalist who gets very sick, very fast, and no one can figure out what is wrong. You will be fascinated by the medical and biological side of the story, as much as you will the personal and relational side. It’s non-fiction, but totally reads like fiction.

[You can read all of my book reviews here.]

So, in years past I’ve shared my top tv shows, books AND movies of the year. However, as I started thinking about this post, I couldn’t even think of 5 movies we’d seen this year! They say we are in the golden era of TV, and I completely agree. It was a lot harder to come up with my top 5 TV shows because we’ve watched a lot of incredible TV this year.

Of course there are a lot of buzzworthy Oscar movies out right now that I’m dying to see, and I’m literally going to see La La Land in an hour. I’ll go ahead and say my favorite movie of 2016 was La La Land.

xo xo

[Catalog – 2015201420132012]


halloween + an 80’s movie update

I love Halloween. Really I just love dressing up for anything specific – give me a theme and I’m there. Or as my favorite fictional mother says,

“I’ll do just about anything if I can buy an outfit!” – Lorelai Gilmore

This year, we decided to dress up as characters from our favorite TV show of the year – Stranger Things. It’s about a 12-year-old boy who goes missing and his friends are determined to find him. Also a lot of weird sh*t starts happening in the town. It’s creepy, but not too creepy, and it’s set in the 80s – giving major homage to Stand by Me, E.T., The Goonies and many more.

Go watch it on Netflix now. Seriously, I promise you it’s worth it. And after you see our costumes, you’ll be even more intrigued.

img_0407{husband as dustin}

img_0405{me as eleven, looking creepy AF || my own mother didn’t recognize me in that blonde wig…}

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img_0436{I will forever cherish this polaroid of us || also, we won best couple costume}

img_0412{convinced some friends to be “the wall” and joyce byers}

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img_0430{and two random, but amazing polaroids from the night, for good measure}

Since we’re talking 80’s, I thought this would be a good time for an update on my 80’s Watchlist. I’ve been making headway on the girly movies:

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (1985) – LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this movie. I want to be SJP and dance all day.

Can’t Buy Me Love (1987) – How adorable is a young Patrick Dempsey?! I also adored this movie. Can’t believe I hadn’t seen it until now.

Heathers (1988) – Okay, I know this is a cult classic, but someone should have warned me how dark it is!! Didn’t love it, but enjoyed seeing Winona Ryder and Christian Slater in their hay day.

Love Potion No. 9 (1993) – This movie was so cheesy and adorable and right up my alley. Sandra Bullock and Tate Donovan are so dreamy.

Teen Witch (1989) – Watched this one in honor of Halloween and again, LOVED. Please watch this scene. It’s hilarious, and awesome, and so 80s. TOP THAT.

xo xo


Fall TV: 5 New Shows To Watch

September is here! My favorite month of the year for several reasons …

It marks the official start of Fall and the return of: PSL (and all things pumpkin for that matter), early mornings and late evenings on the porch with Husband, tailgating and calling the Hogs with family and friends, scarves and boots and more scarves and boots, and of course, Fall TV.

Every year I get so excited for my TV shows to come back on and to see what new shows might be added to my regular watch list. Our Summer list has included: The Affair, Stranger Things, Veep and The Wine Show. All amazing shows I would highly recommend, but there’s just something about the return of Fall TV that makes me giddy. (I know, I’m a TV dork.)

Here’s a look at what shows I’m excited to watch this this Fall.

T O P  5  N E W  S H O W S

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This Is Us – NBC, Tuesday, Sep. 20

Synopsis: The ensemble dramedy follows a group of people who share the same birthday and whose lives intersect in various ways.
Why I’ll Watch: The preview made me cry, it reminds me of Parenthood, and JESS (Milo Ventimiglia) is back on TV. This one is at the top of my list.

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Designated Survivor – ABC, Wednesday, Sep. 21

Synopsis: Keifer Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkman, a lower cabinet member who becomes president after an attack on Washington kills everyone ahead of him in the line of succession.
Why I’ll Watch: Drama, suspense and politics –all the ingredients for a great show.

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The Good Place – NBC, Monday, Sept. 19

Synopsis: When Eleanor realizes that she’s not a very good person, she gets a chance to start anew with the help of Michael (Ted Danson) in the afterlife.
Why I’ll Watch: This has the potential to be really funny. Also Kristen Bell is amazing.

MAKING HISTORY: L-R: Adam Pally and Leighton Meester in MAKING HISTORY premiering midseason on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Qantrell Colbert/FOX

Making History – FOX, Midseason

Synopsis: Pally, Meester and Lester play three friends who travel through time while trying to get through their everyday lives in the present.
Why I’ll Watch: Adam Pally is hilarious (Mindy Project, Happy Endings) and Leighton Meester is one of my all-time favorites.

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Riverdale – CW, Midseason

Synopsis: Based on the Archie Comics characters, the series finds Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and Josie trying to navigate life in their small town, which is not as wholesome as it seems.
Why I’ll Watch: Growing up I was obsessed with Archie, Betty & Veronica, so I’ll give this one a shot purely for nostalgia. Also, it has a creepy Pretty Little Liars feel.

 

C U R R E N T  W A T C H L I S T

Blindspot – NBC, Wednesday, Sept. 14

The Big Bang Theory – CBS, Monday, Sept. 19

How To Get Away With Murder* – ABC, Thursday, Sept. 22

Quantico* – ABC, Sunday, Sept. 25

Younger – TVLand, Wednesday, Sept. 28

The Mindy Project – Hulu, Oct. 4

Jane the Virgin – CW, Monday, Oct. 17

The Walking Dead – AMC, Sunday, Oct. 23

iZombie – Midseason

Scandal* – ABC, Midseason

The Affair – Showtime, Midseason

Nashville – CMT, Midseason

The Royals – E!, Midseason

*Currently on the chopping block. I didn’t LOVE the last seasons, so will give them a couple of episodes to see if I will continue watching.

Are you as excited as I am for Fall TV?! What’s on your watch list?

xo xo

You might also enjoy – Fall TV Guides: 20152014, 2013