Why Do We Watch the Same Shows Over and Over Again?

Why do we watch the same shows over and over again? Is it boredom? A habit?

Coming home and putting Friends on in the background to re-watch for the 100th time, watching the same episodes of The Office that make you giggle – it’s a habit that everyone holds. Nothing seems to change the fact that I have a list full of movies and shows to watch on my Netflix, yet I find myself returning to the same old shows I’ve watched on repeat, finding comfort and pleasure in watching them over again.

I know I’m guilty for repeatedly watching Friends, The Vampire Diaries, and having something to keep me entertained even though I may have seen that episode more times than I can count. Surely I’m not the only one? Could it be a more complex reason as to why we fall in love with the characters and their lives and envision ourselves in their place? In a world where every week currently seems to repeat itself, I know that I wouldn’t mind living in a fantasy world where I’m surrounded by magic and an eventful life everyday.

Lockdown has also been at fault for me being able to watch my favourite shows more than once, but can I really put the blame on that? There’s nothing stopping me from changing the channel and picking the new drama series The Queen’s Gambit; yet, I’m still here.
Whilst the world outside seems to be a mess, I find myself comforted by the routine of a TV show I know, a therapeutic way which reaffirms an order and helps my anxieties.

It could just be a simple reason, re-watching to cure our boredom. However, I would like to believe that we all think it’s the more complex reason. It’s also a way of knowing comfort, a bit of predictability as the next scene comes on the screen, giving you a sense of excitement. Noticing a detail that you might have missed the first time, understanding a character’s development and seeing their transformation happen instead of just the plot. I can definitely say watching Caroline Forbes’ transformation in The Vampire Diaries going from a basic, boy-crazy cheerleader to an empowered, smart, bad-ass vampire was my highlight of character development. Could it have gotten any better?

As far as I can see, there’s no harm in re-watching a show you’ve seen a thousand times before. They are designed so that we fall in love with these characters, and if we can relive that feeling again, why shouldn’t we? Why not go and put on a rerun of Schitt’s Creek or any other show that makes you laugh, cry and feel the emotions the characters and the plot wants you to feel?

Image courtesy of David Balev.

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