To say I’m a creature of behavior could be an understatement. Every morning, I get up and take a 30 minute stroll. Or, if I’m feeling bold, I am going on a run. Every afternoon, I eat the identical meal: ramen with a soft-boiled egg. And each night I serve dinner at 6:30. Traffic be damned. But my largest obsession? My biggest “routine?” Every evening I rewatch previous exhibits.
From “Friends” and “Futurama” to “The Great British Bakeoff” and “The Office,” I activate (and tune into) the identical set of exhibits, and it seems I’m not alone. Millions of people are watching dramas and sitcoms previous. The purpose? These exhibits are comfy and relatable. Thanks to streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, they’re accessible, and previous TV is acquainted. Like your favourite pair of sneakers or pajamas or a well-worn nightshirt.
“Part of it is [a matter of] technology having caught up to our interest and desires,” Daniel D’Addario — Variety’s chief TV critic — tells Culture. “You no longer have to wait for TV reruns or invest in DVD box sets – these things are waiting for you online. Then there is the comfort of familiarity. The things people are binging are not deeply experimental, you know the rhythms of these shows very well. It’s about knowing what you’re getting and letting it wash over you.” And Claire Zulkey, a Chicago-based freelance author, agrees.
“There’s something comforting about familiarity,” Zulkey informed Decider in 2017. “You can fall asleep or go get some food without thinking like you’ll miss something.”
Of course, the rerun just isn’t new. I bear in mind rising up and watching “Gilligan’s Island” with my household. That, or my mom’s favourite: “I Love Lucy.” However, the way by which we watched was totally different. It was laid-back. We merely stopped on the present whereas biking by means of channels as a result of it occurred to be there — as a result of a “classic” was on TV. But immediately our choices are extra energetic, and our viewing habits are dictated by our needs, impulses, and time.
“I used to love to watch new things. Now my time is limited,” Tom Monica, a mortgage underwriter from New Jersey, informed Decider. “I honestly try new shows from time to time. I just can’t seem to get invested in them. All of the Netflix Marvel series I should love and I just don’t. I can’t get into them. I prefer to just watch a movie. Two hours and done.” But time isn’t the one issue. In the identical Decider article, Marjorie — a former TV critic — revealed that previous exhibits are much less harmful than new ones. We know what we’re entering into. The threat stage is low.
“I suppose there is less of a perceived ‘risk’ of wasting my time or I just want to watch something where I know where it’s going to take me emotionally,” Marjorie explains. “There is something comforting about that, especially with formulaic shows like procedurals, which require less overall investment.”
Admittedly, I’ve by no means given a lot thought into why I rewatch previous TV. As I said, I’m a creature of behavior. I merely figured I used to be boring. That, or caught in my methods. But I can relate to Marjorie’s level, and others. There is dedication concerned when beginning a brand new collection. Watching new programming requires time. It additionally requires focus, one thing which I are likely to lack after 8:00pm. Plus, once I’m stress-free on the finish of the day, I would like one thing which soothes my soul or makes me chuckle, and I understand how sure packages make me really feel. They are assuaging, reassuring, and protected.
“Time and time again, people say they are drawn back to their favourite shows because of their feeling that starting something new might be stressful,” says author David Renshaw of BBC Culture. “Why, dedicated rewatchers argue, would I start something new that might be nerve-racking, complicated, not what it seemed from the trailer, or simply unenjoyable, when I know I have a guaranteed treat waiting for me? By reducing the element of risk, contrastingly, a rewatch can possess a restorative, zen-like power.” Plus, I do know the characters in my favourite packages. They really feel like extensions of myself, a part of my utterly weird however prolonged household.
Of course, there’s one other issue which contributes to the phenomena of the rewatch, i.e., there’s additionally the paralysis of selection. Many nights I’m overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of titles. I have no idea the place to start out — or easy methods to start. So I choose programming which I do know. That, or I choose an animal documentary (my responsible pleasure). And thousands and thousands of others do the identical. There is a psychological purpose for this.
“According to the ‘paradox of choice, a psychological concept popularized by a 2004 book of the same name, an overabundance of options stymies consumers’ ability to choose among them,” a 2020 article by John Jurgensen of the Wall Street Journal explains. “It’s a feeling many TV viewers… experience when they pick up their remote controls.”
“The problem with limitless choice is that choice is daunting,” Derek Kompare, a media research professor at Southern Methodist University and the writer of ‘Rerun Nation,’ provides. There actually might be an excessive amount of of an excellent factor.
That stated, the rationale why you watch previous TV doesn’t matter. What issues is how stated programming makes you’re feeling. And in case you (like me) are comforted by the acquainted — in case you discover peace and respite in that which is unusual and well-known — then get pleasure from it. Grab some popcorn and chuckle alongside your favourite characters. Even in case you already know what the punchline goes to be.