Finding comfort in TV

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By Brianna Mack
December 15, 2022

Opening scene in "Gilmore Girls." Photo by Brianna Mack.
Opening scene in "Gilmore Girls." Photo by Brianna Mack.

Taking time to decompress after the semester ends is different for everyone, but I strongly recommend rewatching your favorite show. On my third viewing of  “Gilmore Girls,” I’ve been able to focus on less obvious things like saving the songs that play during pivotal moments and memorizing lines. Some people call it obsession, but I say I’m building my media literacy. Finding comfort in familiar characters refreshes my spirit.  

Research shows that college students can regain their sense of control after stressful assignments by rewatching a show. Television can serve as both escapism and refreshment.  

Opening scene in “Jane the Virgin.” Photo by Brianna Mack.

Rewatching a show is also a chance to enjoy filler episodes you may have found boring on a first watch. Shows use filler episodes to make space between serious story arcs, and a good filler will foreshadow the next arc without too much important detail. 

There might be gems you forgot about. You’ll have a greater understanding of the foreshadowing. That frustrating cliffhanger might make more sense if you reviewed the moments leading up to it. I find gaining new insight about familiar characters fascinating. 

Rewatching a show gives you more freedom to be a casual viewer or to analyze the context behind everything. I skip episodes I was not too fond of the first time in favor of basking in my favorite scenes.  

Watching with a new perspective 

Once you’ve seen something enough times, you’ll be able to critique it. If rewatching the same show sounds boring, then try watching it with a different lens. The second time I watched “Gilmore Girls” was with Spanish subtitles.  

Watch it with a friend or make a game out of the mistakes that the protagonist makes. It’s your favorite show, so it’s possible for you to enjoy it more than once. I enjoy watching shows with friends who’ve never seen them before because they notice different things. 

Building a relationship with on-screen characters may seem odd, but parasocial relationships provide a sense of belonging to the viewer. A parasocial relationship is when one party gives emotional energy to a figure who they don’t know personally. I defend characters like they are real people because I’ve watched the show enough times. 

If you find breaks from school to be lonely, rewatching your favorite show can provide comfort. If you’re skipping a day with your friends so you can study for finals, watch an hour episode as a break.  

Be selective with your choice of show 

I’m not saying that you should ignore all of your responsibilities in favor of rewatching “The Office” again. The same study that justifies rewatching TV to restore self-control recommends exercise as a healthier alternative. 

Scene from the “Gilmore Girls” pilot episode. Photo by Brianna Mack.

I am saying that having favorites is okay and choosing to watch the show you’ve already seen is also okay. I love finding different moments to laugh at a show I’ve seen twice already.  

It’s okay to find community in fictional worlds. I believe engaging in the predictable world is peaceful, comforting, and fun.  

If you don’t have a favorite show, then I recommend finding one. Shows released before 2017 tend to have more content to enjoy, but contemporary TV is just as enjoyable. My favorites are “Gilmore Girls” and “Jane the Virgin.” 

Rewatching a movie is also effective at lowering stress and feeling comforted. I prefer TV because it takes longer to consume. Comfort movies feel like a moment frozen in time, but TV shows track progress. Each episode of “Gilmore Girls” reminds me of how I’ve changed since the last time I watched it. 

Winter break is my favorite time to catch up on TV and indulge in a predictable world because there are fewer distractions, and you’ll feel refreshed when the semester starts again. 

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Brianna Mack

Brianna Mack is a communications/music industry and business major. Her love of reading, writing, and music blossomed in middle school by writing short stories for class and joining the choir. She started writing for news and was one of the first participants in the choir during her freshman year of high school. In her junior year, she took a course that inspired her to learn intense research methods. These methods apply to the ways she prepares every article and essay that she writes. She enjoys her work in the Writing Center as a peer tutor because she has always loved writing. She is the president of the XMusica Society, which is the presenting organization on campus. Brianna has two younger siblings. She commutes an hour to school every day, is an active member in her church, and helps facilitate a bible discussion group at Swarthmore College.

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