What makes for a good rewatch

  • Comedies seem to be perfect rewatching material. Laughter lowers stress and releases positive hormones.
  • Sitcoms provide a static world, with characters that maintain a consistent personality regardless of the situations they find themselves in.
  • The Sopranos is one of the outliers. Its success as a rewatch stems from being considered the greatest TV series of all time. Another is the political soap The West Wing.
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We prefer to rewatch our favorite series

Over the past year, it has never been easier to find something new to watch on TV. Despite so much fresh content, there is a growing trend for people to rewatch old series.

Data backs up the anecdotal evidence that 2020 (during the pandemic) was the year of the rewatch. The most streamed programme in the US was the American version of The Office.

Streaming services are competing over the rights to add classic TV shows to their libraries. NBCUniversal committed to paying $500 million for exclusive rights to stream The Office for five years. WarnerMedia picked up Friends for $425 million for five years. Netflix paid $500 million for a five-year lease of Seinfeld.

Similarly, in the audio world, there is a rise in the "rewatch podcast." Name a TV hit, and there is probably an accompanying podcast taking a trip down memory lane.

  • Part of the rewatching trend is that technology has caught up to our interests. You don't have to wait for TV reruns - they are waiting for you online.
  • Then there is familiarity. The things people watch are not experimental. People find new things stressful as they don't know if it will be enjoyable, but a rewatch is guaranteed to be a treat.
  • A 2013 research paper describes the restorative nature of repeats. By reducing the element of risk, a rewatch can give a restorative, zen-like power.

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Watching old sitcoms

Many people turn to favourite old sitcoms like "The Golden Girls," or "Seinfeld" to unwind and deal with anxiety and mild depression.

Experts say laughing along with favourite old sitcoms can help us feel calm and happy in an increasingly chaotic world.

"Retro" Love

Production of new TV content has increased exponentially since the last decade, due to a variety of streaming platforms competing against each other and a whole lot of channels on the air.

But paradoxically, cultural consumption is moving towards the tried and tested classic programs and series, which seem comforting, familiar and a safe bet.

Grieving  the ending of a series

There are varying degrees of grief (the end of a movie or show is obviously not the same as the death of a person), but many people do experience feelings of loss around different forms of media, such as the ending of a favorite show.

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