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Counter-Programming Election Day

TV's all in on election results, but what if you aren't? An essential guide to escaping the insanity.
  • From left to right: Rocky, Dawson's Creek and We Are Who We Are.
    From left to right: Rocky, Dawson's Creek and We Are Who We Are.

    You've done your civic duty (if you haven't, there's still time: VOTE), now it's time to wait for the results. But despite the TV networks (and plenty of cable outlets) planning wall-to-wall election coverage today, at the end of the day (or month, or year as the case may be) the only thing that really matters is who won, and your phone's going to tell you that the minute it's determined. So why put yourself through the endless punditry, speculation, and fingernail biting that comes with it when there's so much else you could be watching?

    Herewith, our guide to counter-programming Election Day 2020:

    Hunger Games Marathon
    Begins at 11:00 AM ET on FREEFORM

    Maybe you're in the mood for a story about people banding together to topple an autocratic regime. Maybe you're just looking for an action epic starring Jennifer Lawrence. Either way, it's going to take all day. Freeform is running The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay, Part 1, and Mockingjay, Part 2, which should keep you busy throughout today's prime fretting hours.

    Chopped Marathon
    Begins at 1:00 PM ET on FOOD NETWORK

    If you're feeling powerless as you wait to see if the rest of the country voted the way you did, hop on over to Food Network to watch cooks make the best of the meager ingredients they've been given and succeed despite obstacles like having to find a way to combine marshmallow Peeps and broccoli rabe. Food Network is starting its marathon early and running all the way into the wee hours, so you could conceivable just park it here until the blissful escape of sleep puts you out of your misery.

    Election All Day
    Begins at 1:00 PM ET on POP TV

    You know how comforting it is when TBS airs A Christmas Story all day on Christmas? Pop TV is attempting to do the same thing on Election Day. From 1:00 PM until 11:00 PM, it's back-to-back-to-back-and-so-on airings of Reese Witherspoon as high-school political dynamo Tracy Flick in Election. Not only is this a fantastic movie on its face, but it's also a movie about how voter suppression doesn't always succeed.

    The Godfather Marathon
    Begins at 5:30 PM ET on AMC

    No, it's not about politics, but The Godfather is about the morally complicated relationship America has with crime and power grabs, so… maybe there's something there? Immerse yourself in the looooong saga of the Corleone family as AMC airs The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II back-to-back.

    Dr. Strangelove
    6:15 PM ET on TCM

    Stanley Kubrick certainly found much absurdist humor in American politics and in particular our leaders' willingness to dance with complete obliteration in order to preserve something resembling victory. With Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, Kubrick put the Cold War on blast and gifted the culture with an enduring monument to its insanity.

    Rocky Marathon
    Begins at 7:00 PM ET on PARAMOUNT NETWORK

    We can't imagine anything more diverting on a day like today than splaying out on the couch and watching a trio of Rocky movies: the original Rocky, Rocky IV, and Rocky Balboa.

    Family Feud Marathon
    9:00 PM ET on GSN

    Perhaps your family contains some rifts over who you voted for in this election? That's a bummer. One way to try to calm yourself is with Game Show Network's all-day Family Feud marathon, a reminder that even though you have a distressingly MAGA uncle, you still have a better answer than him for what 100 married people surveyed said was one thing their spouse does that drives them crazy.

    30 for 30: The Trojan War
    9:30 PM ET on ESPN

    With the NBA and Major League Baseball seasons just finished, we don't have too much in the way of live sports to distract us on a Tuesday night. But you can at least hop over to ESPN to watch their excellent 30 for 30 episode "The Trojan War," about coach Pete Carroll's eventful time as head coach of the USC Trojans.

    Dawson's Creek
    Streaming on Netflix

    It goes without saying that streaming platforms offer a near-unlimited selection of things to keep you busy while vote totals roll in. Netflix, for one, dropped the entire run of Dawson's Creek two days ago. The primetime soap that defined the WB network and launched the careers of Katie Holmes, Michelle Williams, James Van Der Beek, and Joshua Jackson will take a long time to burn through, and it'll transport you to the late '90s, when so much of… all this wasn't happening.

    Streaming on Hulu

    If your prefer your horny teenagers with a British accent, Skins may be more your jam. The series is more of a cult thing here in the United States, but it launched own share of stars (including Nicholas Hoult and Dev Patel), and a solid block of time this election night could be a great opportunity to see what all the transatlantic fuss was about.

    Streaming on HBO Max

    If you're looking for real escapism — with a twist — look no further than the 1998 film Pleasantville, which transports an all-star cast (Reese Witherspoon, Tobey Maguire, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, Don Knotts) into the seemingly idyllic world of a 1950s TV show. That life in Pleasantville ends up being a good deal more complicated than it seems is a nice little rebuke to the MAGA ethos, but mostly this is just a beautiful and well-acted movie that will keep your mind busy.

    We Are Who We Are
    Streaming now on HBO Max

    And if you're looking for a more modern brand of escapism, the final episode of HBO's We Are Who We Are aired last night on HBO, which means if you have yet to dive into Luca Guadagnino's gorgeous world of teens figuring themselves out on an army base in Italy, you can binge the entire season today. We can think of few better ways to spend your day.

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: 2020 Presidential Election, AMC, ESPN, Paramount Network, Pop TV, TCM, 30 For 30, Chopped, Dawson's Creek, Family Feud, Skins, We Are Who We Are