Wondering how to get ready for the big show? Clear your schedule (no, really, your entire schedule) for a nonstop day of food, drinks, and all the TV episodes you need to watch to be an Emmy expert.
You’ll need energy for this, so kick off the binge with orange juice, black coffee, and Orange Is the New Black standout episode “Lesbian Request Denied.”
Time is a flat circle. Also a flat circle: pancakes! Eat some with True Detective episode 4, “Who Goes There.”
Bathroom break: Debate Matthew McConaughey versus Woody Harrelson. Realize there is no right answer. Wash hands.
The Good Wife‘s season showstopper, “Hitting the Fan,” will leave you breathless and sobbing—just your typical 10 o’clock.
Laugh off the lawsuits with a comedy block. First up: The Big Bang Theory (“The Locomotive Manipulation”). You might even learn something…but probably not.
11:35 AM–12:05 PM
It’s your patriotic duty to watch Leslie Knope’s “Filibuster” on Parks and Recreation.
Salute tech by playing a game on your iPhone during Silicon Valley‘s “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency.”
Bob’s Burgers serves up a great pun-themed burger idea in each episode (e.g., “The Longest Chard Burger”), so cook one up for lunch and feast alongside the hilarious, pop-culture-skewering “The Equestranauts.”
Add some cringes to the comedy, starting with Louie‘s “So Did the Fat Lady.” Don’t worry, it’s okay to laugh.
Dive into the emotional catharsis of the epic “Beach House” argument on Girls. Do a couch version of the girls’ choreographed dance. (Yes, this counts as your exercise for the day.)
Remember the real world? Check the latest headlines and imagine what The Newsroom would say about them two years from now.
Doncha know, it’s time to get the heebie-jeebies from Fargo‘s Lorne Malvo in “The Crocodile’s Dilemma.”
Cling to the fading traditions of the Old World with a cup of Earl Grey and one sophisticated hour of Downton Abbey. High tea pairs nicely with any episode where Lady Mary wears black and mopes. (Spoiler: It’s all of them!)
After Downton, leap forward to the future of government with the so-funny-it-actually-hurts-to-laugh “Alicia” from Veep.
As your non-bingeing friends head to the bar, begin a 1960s-inspired cocktail hour with Mad Men. Savor the last moments of Bert Cooper (in the episode “Waterloo”) with a dirty martini in one hand and a mai tai in the other. It’s how Bert would’ve wanted it.
Keep your buzz going with an old-fashioned Old Fashioned, perfect for sipping as Masters of Sex sends you back to the ’50s with “All Together Now.” (Surgeon general’s warning: Beau Bridges’ Emmy-nominated turn and Allison Janney’s Emmy-winning turn will have you weeping into your gimlet.)
Bathroom break! It’s The Amazing Race: How Fast Can You Pee? edition.
Order some ribs to go with the shocking second-season premiere of House of Cards, where the D.C. drama is as juicy as the baby backs at Freddy’s. And don’t fret about the two minutes you missed during the bathroom break—it’s just one long shot of Frank and Claire jogging together. At night. In coordinated outfits. Like a normal couple.
You’re halfway there! Prime time begins with the crème de la Valyrian crème: Game of Thrones. Get on the GoT horse with “The Lion and the Rose,” known throughout the realm as That Episode Where That Thing Happened to Joffrey. Shout-out to Emmy nominees Peter Dinklage, Diana Rigg, and Lena Headey for throwing a wedding party to die for.
When 9:09 p.m. comes, it would be a crime to miss such an obvious opportunity to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s cliffhanger season finale, “Charges and Specs.” (Get it? Because of the nines?)
Cozy up to an Olivia Pope-size glass of Malbec and some salacious Scandal. When the Popes sit down for a dysfunctional-family dinner in the heart-pounding “The Fluffer,” call your parents and thank them for not being that crazy.
Go outside. Look up at the stars. Pretend you watched Cosmos. Go back inside.
In honor of The Americans, serve up some apple pie with a shot of Russian vodka. Then put on “Behind the Red Door” and imagine Margo Martindale feeding you both.
11:40 pm–12:10 AM
Switch over to live TV and flip through the nominated late-night offerings, including The Colbert Report, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Jimmy Kimmel Live! No need to stay past the first guest.
Bathroom break: You have two minutes. Think like Tim Gunn and make it work.
It’s the witching hour! The “Seven Wonders” finale of American Horror Story: Coven will kick off midnight in campy style.
Dance to Stevie Nicks for four minutes. This is mandatory.
Put on Breaking Bad‘s stunning “Ozymandias”—widely considered the best episode of the series—and embark on the emotional roller coaster of memories as you look back on the final season of TV’s finest meth- addled show. Do not actually do meth.
Keep up your blood sugar with popcorn, cotton candy, and other old-timey junk food you might find visiting Boardwalk Empire (“Farewell Daddy Blues”).
Grab tissues for…
…the TV-movie event of the year, The Normal Heart. At 3:20 in the morning, no one can hear you cry.
Keep those tears flowing with Audra McDonald’s “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from The Sound of Music Live!
Wipe your eyes, break out your laptop, and check out a sketch each from nominees Saturday Night Live, Inside Amy Schumer, Key & Peele, and Portlandia.
Greet the sunrise by watching the nominated title sequences for Black Sails, Cosmos, Masters of Sex, Silicon Valley, and winner True Detective.
You’re almost there! Watch the great Sherlock (“His Last Vow”). Or if you’re too sleep- deprived, just look at adorable Benedict Cumberbatch GIFs on Tumblr.
Your real family probably thinks you’re nuts for doing this binge, but your Modern Family (“Three Dinners”) always has a seat for you at the table.
Congrats, you’re officially ready for the Emmys! (Now get some sleep.)
This article appears in Entertainment Weekly’s August 15, 2014 issue