Why do people rewatch classics instead of new content?

Sydney Joa 9-III

When it comes to TV shows, I live for rewatching the classics. There’s just something about turning on the TV and revisiting the Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch (The Office) that makes me happy. A friend once asked me, “why don’t you just start a new show?” and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that it’s the feeling of nostalgia as well as other factors in the mix that always bring me back to watching the same shows over and over again.

         Moreover, it may seem tedious to constantly rewatch a show or a movie, especially since you know what’s coming next. And I understand – watching a new show or movie always brings that satisfactory thrill, trying to guess what shocking twists come next. I completely agree that watching new content will always be exhilarating, as we always anticipate and stick around to see whether a certain character will get their fairy-tale ending or if that one dispute will ever be sorted out.

         A study made by Frank Bentley – lecturer at Stanford and MIT, and Janet Murray – professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, showed that 79% of those who participated had rewatched some type of video in the past week. Now, the question is why, when so much great new content being produced regularly – especially with Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and others entering the streaming game – do we keep on going back to the same shows and movies over and over again? Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • Laziness: As a study was done by the University of Chicago puts it, “exposing our minds to the same content repeatedly makes it easier for our brains to process what’s going on within the series, and eventually results in almost no mental effort needed on our part to actually enjoy it.”
  • Nostalgia: Probably one of the main reasons why we go back to the same movies and shows is because of the feeling of nostalgia that the content brings. There’s a certain proponent in revisiting shows we love that feels both refreshing and comfortable and helps us remember the past – in a good way.
  • We see how much we’ve grown: Whether it’s from seeing that certain character you’ve always disliked in a different light, or rethinking the main character’s choice of actions, by rewatching shows we can really see how we’ve changed and grown over time.
  • Relatability: Sometimes we simply relate to the characters and become attached to them as well as the plot. Rewatching puts us at ease as we understand that we’re not the only ones who make poor or ridiculous choices.
  • We know it won’t disappoint: Some browse unsuccessfully for hours – or merely minutes – looking for some new content to watch, and eventually settle for a rerun since they know an old favorite won’t disappoint.

So to those of you who are opposed to watching shows over and over again, the next time that you catch yourself mindlessly browsing for hours, know that it’s completely okay to settle for an old classic. I can bet that you’ll be wearing a smile on your face once you hear that familiar theme song you’ve always loved. Don’t underestimate the fun that comes in rewatching your favorites!

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