FINDING COMFORT IN THE FAMILIAR: HOW REWATCHING TV SHOWS CAN BE CALMING
Recently, TikTok has sparked a conversation about people who rewatch TV shows. Content has been created on TikTok that suggests those who rewatch shows repeatedly are mentally unstable. Why? People argue that those who watch the same show over and over again are crazy. Why would they want to watch something that they’ve already seen hundreds of times? Why wouldn’t they want to start something new?
As an avid re-watcher, I completely disagree with this sentiment. I think there is a sense of comfort in watching a show you have already seen. You know who is gonna die if anyone, you know who ends up together, you know when a character leaves the show. Simply put, you know what to expect which can be very helpful when watching certain shows.
I associate my TV time with my time to relax. Personally, I don’t find it very relaxing watching a show where I’m anxious because I don’t know what’s going to happen. I do however find it very relaxing when I am watching something I know I enjoy. If something isn’t broken, why fix it?
Pamela Rutledge, a media psychologist, says rewatching a show or movie that you enjoy “can become really therapeutic, especially if you are feeling anxious.” It is true that many rewatch shows because it is predictable and makes them feel safe, but in no means does that mean they have a mental illness or are mentally unstable. Someone who loves a certain show just wants to keep watching and there shouldn’t be a problem with that. What makes it different from someone loving a certain restaurant and eating there all the time? Or someone having the same Starbucks order and getting it every day. There isn’t a difference. As humans, we want to keep experiencing the things we know we love – and that includes entertainment.
During the beginnings of COVID and even still, the future felt so unknown. There did not feel like much any of us could control and we truly didn't know what was going to happen. We didn’t know when life was going to go back to normal or when there would even be slight improvements. Rewatching their favorite TV shows is something that got people through these hard times. Their favorite characters and plots transported them into a different time where they didn't have to think about how unknown things were in that moment.
I love what I love, and I see no need to stop rewatching something just because there is a stigma around what it means. If watching the same three TV shows on rotations for years makes someone happy, then they should be able to do that without questioning their mental health.