I have always been a TV watcher. From a young age, I loved watching movies and had certain movies that I watched when I was sick or having a bad day. To this day if I am feeling under the weather I will make myself a bowl of Ramen noodles and watch “Mary Poppins.” Nothing made me feel better like slurping my soup and saying “MMMM Rum Punch” along with Mary. As I grew up I found myself watching the same movies over and over until they just became background noise, something I could just hear and visualize in my head.
Recently, I have found that I latch on to TV shows the most and have a hard time finding new shows to watch. It physically makes me anxious to think about starting a new series! Many times unless something has really excited me it will take me a long time to decide to watch something new. And then when I do watch something new I am constantly googling for spoilers to ease my anxiety.
Come to find out, there is science behind the practice of having comfort shows. Something you put on when you want to feel the comfort in knowing what is going to happen. In an interview for Medium, psychologist Pamela Rutledge explained, “watching the same entertainment piece multiple times reaffirms that there is order in the world and that it ‘can create a sense of safety and comfort on a primal level.’” There is also research that supports the idea that repetition creates comfort because you do not have to process new information. In many ways, this desire to repeat things can manifest in negative ways, but it also works in your Netflix playlist when you have had a bad day and just want to watch your favorite movie, where all the characters are going to do the same things they have always done and nothing is going to surprise you.
Now, if you take a look at the things that comfort you these days you may also notice that many of them are older shows, songs, and movies…. Things that you grew up with. That is because nostalgia can actually help you and ease your anxiety and stress. This is why GenX and Millenials loved the 2022 SuperBowl Halftime show so much! We didn’t care about the politics behind Snoop’s blue bandana outfit, or why Eminem was kneeling. What we heard and saw were songs that once blared from our boomboxes, or that we danced the night away to at the club. It reminds you of a time when life was a little simpler. The moment the songs started we no longer saw the 2022 halftime show, we saw sweaty HS gyms or crowded smoke-filled clubs. We could remember the feel of the UGGS and Jean skirts and layers of tank tops. We were transported for a few minutes to a time when we didn’t carry the mental load of daily life.
So the next time you are feeling anxious or in need of comfort, crank up the old playlists from your teens or put on that movie/TV show you have watched hundreds of times and embrace the comfort of familiarity.
I’d love to know, what do you consider your COMFORT SHOWS?