Anyone who has ever nabbed a babysitting gig for a little bit of extra cash or, you know, been a child, is likely aware of this one thing about all children: Those adorable little punks just love watching the same thing over and over and over again. For me, it was Winnie the Pooh— for my three year-old niece, it's Frozen— but regardless, all you have to do is stick a DVD in the DVD player and keep pressing play when it ends, and that kid will be set until they get hungry. Or, even after they're hungry and go into eating mode, because if kids can do anything, it's eat while watching television. Not surprisingly, adults are pretty much the same: why else would millenials be so obsessed with '90s cartoons or overwatching reruns of Buffy (I think I've seen every episode about three times at this point, and some episodes more than that). Nostalgia is one of the things that really keeps us going. But, why does this phenomenon exist? Why do we all like watching the same shows over and over?
Neel Burton, author of Heaven and Hell: Psychology of the Emotions explained it to the Huffington Post, claiming:
Nostalgia can lend us much-needed context, perspective and direction, reminding and reassuring us that our life is not as banal as it may seem. It also tells us that there have been -- and will once again be --meaningful moments and experiences.
But also, like, Neel, have you seen Buffy? She makes me so happy!
Oh, that's what you're saying? I'm watching the content because it adds "comfort and perspective"?
OK. Carry on.
The same reason we can watch reruns over and over is the reason we have certain holiday movies that we all look forward to re-watching ever year (whaddup, White Christmas... and Elf... and Home Alone... and I'll Be Home For Christmas... and — you know what, I'll stop there) or listen to the same song every time we break-up with someone (I'm looking at you, "Spirit Desire" by Tiger's Jaw). And according to Burton, that's not a bad thing if you aren't trying to idealize or live in the past, a la the mom in the song "1985" by Bowling for Soup.
So, carry on, you lovers of Hey Arnold, and you dreamers and friends of television — what you're doing is perfectly normal. Not that you needed validation to re-watch the entire series of Friends for, like, the 50th time — but it's nice to have it, I guess.
Images: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy