As December comes to a close, now is the perfect time to reflect on how the year was spent, both with deep existential questions but also lighter, fun matters – such as surveying your TV and movie consumption over the year. Until recently I didn’t have a system I was satisfied with for tracking my viewing history, but now I’ve settled on Sofa.
I’ve written about Sofa before, but previously I only used it to track things I wanted to watch in the future, never to keep a log of what I actually had watched. As the end of 2019 started approaching, however, I found myself wishing I had a record of the different movies and TV shows I’d enjoyed during the year. But since I didn’t have a system I was happy with, I hadn’t kept track of those things. I could have written simple text lists of my viewing history in Apple Notes, but I wanted something more visually pleasing than plain text.
There are plenty of dedicated apps that serve this exact purpose, but none I’ve discovered were quite right for me. Movie tracking apps are fine, but with TV tracking I’ve found that most apps’ designs fit poorly with what I’m looking for. TV tracking apps are episode-centric, requiring you to log your viewing progress an episode at a time, which feels far too cumbersome for my needs. In the age of binge-watching, a season-centric approach to TV tracking feels more fitting, and manageable. But in the absence of such an option among the many dedicated TV trackers I tried, I’ve turned to Sofa.
Sofa enables creating lists of different media items. You can save not only TV shows and movies, but also video games, music, books, and podcasts. What’s great about the app is how simple and flexible is it: you can create any lists you like, optionally organized into different sections, and those lists can consist of any mix of media items and types. For my annual TV and movie viewing, I’ve decided to create sections dedicated to each year, which consist of separate TV and Movies lists.
In my 2019 section, my Movies list contains all the films I watched this year. Searching the app’s database makes it easy to add each film in just a couple of seconds. The advantage of using Sofa over a text list in Notes is primarily aesthetics – while tapping a film’s listing in Sofa does offer useful information like a plot summary and release date, I really just prefer seeing a movie’s artwork next to its title when browsing my past logs.
With TV shows, while ideally I’d love to track viewing by season (e.g. The Morning Show - Season 1), that way I know which season(s) I watched in a given year, simply adding the show name itself is a fair compromise, and far more in line with my minimalist preferences than an over-complicated app with per-episode logging. As I continue this tracking into 2020, I expect many shows that I watched in 2019 will also appear on my 2020 list, because they’ll have new seasons in the new year, and that’s perfectly fine. My goal is to get a quick, aesthetically-pleasing overview of my year’s viewing, and Sofa offers that. Now, rather than stressing over whether I’ve logged the precise episodes I watched, I can simply log one entry per series per year, which is a lot more manageable for me.
My system of TV and movie tracking won’t be for everyone – many users will prefer a lot more control, and may be put off by Sofa’s lack of integration with a service like Trakt. However, if you’re like me and want something simple, Sofa offers a nice compromise between the complication of other apps and the minimalism of a plain text note. And of course, it’s good for more than just films and TV: you can make similar annual lists for the video games you play, books you read, and podcasts and music you enjoy too.