The idea of a TV advice column seemed weird to me at first, but now that I’ve read this particular column, I get it. Also, this first question on rewatching TV makes me feel less alone (well, I know I’m not the only person I know who constantly rewatches shows, but I know quite a few people who look at me strangely when I say I’m rewatching something [that I just watched, I’m looking at you Arrow]). Emphasizing relevant portions.
How many times is too many when it comes to rewatching? I’ve seen Six Feet Under twice within eight months — and a year later, I want to watch it again. Same with Mad Men, Lost, The Sopranos, and a few others. I still have some TV I need to watch for the first time, but I love the familiarity of those shows that have a “more than a TV show” relation to my life. Which shows have you seen the most? How much is too much? —Collin
The show I’ve seen the most is Sports Night. (West Wing‘s a close second, but not seasons five and six, so.) Sports Night makes me happy and brings me comfort every time I watch it, whether it’s a full rewatch or just an ep here and there. You know how relationship experts say it’s important to do new activities with one’s long-term partner to keep the relationship fresh? Well … I watch Sports Night during every major emotional event in my life, good or bad, so I never feel like I’ve grown apart from it. I’ve been doing this since 2002, when the DVDs came out. Maybe I’m the wrong person to tell you how much is too much.
But you asked, so: There is not one big TV to-do list that everyone has to follow. You say you “need” to watch some shows for the first time, but says who? If you want to just watch your shows over and over, there’s no TV police who are going to stop you. TV is not just one thing in our lives. Sometimes it’s comfort. Sometimes it’s an escape. Sometimes it’s an almost academic endeavor. Sometimes it’s “mindless.” Sometimes we’re jealous of the characters, sometimes we aspire to be like them, sometimes we recoil at their behavior. One of the ways TV brings me joy is that I can count on it. I know Casey will always be missing his white shirt — he doesn’t have a favorite, but it’s his favorite — and that Jeremy will always hate eggnog and that Isaac will always survive his stroke. But another way TV dazzles me is through surprise and discovery. I watch pilots with hope in my heart, and stumbling upon a new series to welcome into my TV life always feels good, and it always ameliorates whatever disappointment lingers from having regrettably watched a crummy show. If you’re at a point in your life where you’re making lots of new discoveries and forming new bonds and developing new routines, it’s completely fine to want TV to provide stable pleasures. But should that change, and you’re looking for the thrill of discovery, in this, as in all things: TV is here for you.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who has such strong feelings about television, who recognizes that it’s an art and a comfort and a friend, because it’s been all of those things to me.
Some things I’ve rewatched a lot (or could rewatch at any time and still enjoy it):
- Angel — it’s my favorite television series, so it’s been a LOT. I haven’t rewatched in a while, but after watching Arrow and recognizing the strong similarities between the shows (a tormented soul seeks redemption in a city that needs saving, with a team of funny/similarly lost souls? Team Arrow is basically Angel Investigations), I am in need of a rewatch.
- Charmed – definitely used to be a comfort show. A rewatch is certainly in order. But just my favorite episodes. Lots of season 2 and season 3 episodes. And a couple of season 5s.
- Castle – I have a lot of season 5 episodes stored on my DVR. I’ve defintiely rewatched the season 5 premiere a lot.
- The Cosby Show – classic rewatch comfort. This show makes m laugh every. single. time. No matter how many times I’ve seen the episodes
- The Golden Girls – me and my grandma used to watch this when I was a kid, then when I was older, I’d watch episodes on my own.
And if I fall really hard in love with a show, like I did with Castle a few years back, Parks and Recreation Seasons 3 and on, and Arrow right now or even Doctor Who, I will watch it the first time all the way through, then immediately rewatch certain episodes, if not the whole series. Part of why I love TV is getting to spend loads and loads of time with the characters–it’s what makes TV so uniquely different from other media. In movies, you get just the hour and a half to three hours with characters, even with sequels, it’s not that much time. With books, you get a closer look at characters, but again not as much time. So when I like a show, it means I want to spend time with those characters, so when I am done and there are no more new adventures to be had, I rewatch, looking for new character interactions or moments of characterization or relationships I didn’t notice before. (Then, sometimes, when I’m really desperate, I turn to fanfiction, but we don’t need to talk about that aspect of my life.)
So, I’m clearly an advocate of rewatching TV, but if that’s not you, then fine. But when I’m down or bored, TV has always been available to me to cheer me up, take my mind off things, sometimes even teach me new things or inspire me to do new things (I totally wear lipstick now because of Felicity Smoak). Rewatching TV is my comfort activity.