WATCH: Science Says Rewatching Your Favorite TV Series Is Good for Your Soul
Well, if that's what the research says...
Sure, you could watch one of the, oh, hundreds television show recommendations you've got from your co-workers, friends, and your hairdresser. Or you could flip on the screen and hit play on the Golden Girls, Downton Abbey, M.A.S.H, or another beloved television show.
So often, we'll take the latter. But why is that? There's actually a psychological reason why we love returning to our old favorite shows and films again, and again, and again. As explained in a 2012 study from the University of Chicago Press published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the act of "reconsumption" like rereading a favorite book or sitting in your go-to booth at a local diner can bring humans great pleasure.
In scientific speak, "Unlike the survival motives that drive evolutionary psychology, we find that consumers who chose to repeat hedonic experiences even just once are expressing and affirming their individual experience and its special meanings to them," the study authors, Cristel Antonia Russell and Sidney J. Levy write in their paper's conclusion. "In this way, hedonic volitional reconsumption is in keeping with the etymology of the word 'repetition.' Whether regressive, progressive, reconstructive, relational, or reflective, reconsumption is a petition, a form of actively seeking, a way of asking for something from the past, a way of becoming rather than returning." In short, watching a cherished television show or movie countless times throughout your life is a way to make you happy and comforted.
Sometimes, to better know who we are, or feel more connected to our inner selves, we are compelled to return to the shows that shaped us. In many cases, returning to a well-known crew of characters or bar where everybody knows your name can bring on warm feelings of attachment, much in the way we have a fondness for a certain roadside diner we visited often as kids. Interestingly, as we grow and evolve, the same shows we watched in our younger years can take on different meaning or we interpret them with new perspective.
“Maybe the past is like an anchor holding us back. Maybe you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be.” Not that I'm quoting Carrie Bradshaw or anything.