Taking comfort in watching nostalgic TV shows is relaxing amidst the pandemic

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Pallevi Pillai

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Nearly eight months into the pandemic and this isolationist way of living and thinking are becoming second-nature to me. During this time, people have been rekindling their favorite solitary activities; everyone, it seems, has been discovering their own form of pandemic “self-medication.” 

I, like most people, have been turning to comfort TV. Apart from being a convenient diversion to the insanity that has happened this year, for me, TV shows are arguably the most universal forms of escapism.”

— Pallevi Pillai

Whenever life as a virtual student gets too mundane or if I need to take a break after a hectic day, I love knowing I can just curl up on the couch with a warm blanket, a snack and a side of nostalgia. For as much as I love discovering new shows to watch, the pandemic has had me craving older media. 

If you also feel this way, you are not alone. Back in May, actor Josh Gad, who, too, was yearning for some comfort entertainment, organized an online “Goonies” reunion with the cast and creators of the movie, which went on to receive 3 million views on YouTube. 

“I think nostalgia is so important right now because we all want to go back to simpler times.” the “Frozen” star said. “We all are hoping for something we can connect with that reminds us of better days.”

 Currently I find myself in heavy rotation between “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Friends.” I enjoy watching the hilarious duality of Meredith, Christina and Lorelai’s quick, witty, pop culture-referenced comebacks; there is this element of familiarity and warmth to these shows that makes me feel at home. 

Jack Hamilton, an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, agrees with this. 

“For me, the familiarity of (comfort TV) is comforting and anxiety-reducing, even though, or maybe especially because, I’ve probably seen every episode a thousand times at this point,” Hamilton said in an interview on CNN.

 Personally, I find the lightheartedness of comfort TV is what makes it so addictive. 

But despite my craving for nostalgia, there’s still a glimmer of hope for newer media. In these months of the pandemic, there is still one new show I discovered that has become my new all-time favorite: NBC’s “This is Us.” 

During quarantine, I quickly devoured the first four seasons. The highly anticipated fifth season was originally set to air in September, but filming was canceled in March due to COVID. However, NBC recently announced filming has begun again and Season 5 will be released on Oct. 27. The announcement was music to my ears, with my life feeling monotonous and stagnant at the moment. “This is Us” follows one family, the Pearsons, through two different timelines: the past and the present. The moving stories between the siblings and their incredible parents treat viewers to a heartwarming experience, especially if you watch it with your own family. It feels intimate to step into the world of characters who audiences cherish and feel content to see if they turn out all right as they continue to watch. And right now, old TV show or new, we all could use a moment to step into a world void of cynicism.

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