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The calming effect of binge-watching old TV

The calming effect of binge-watching old TV
/ Marco_Piunti / E+ / Getty Images

Over the course of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in TV binge-watching. With officials asking the public to stay at home, many people have found comfort in watching films and TV shows to help pass the time. 

With hundreds (even thousands) of shows and films at our fingertips, the shows that have been receiving the most amount of views over the past year have been surprisingly… old!

In a recent BBC report, the most-streamed show last year was “The Office”, despite it going off the air almost a decade ago. Other shows that reached high numbers include: “The Sopranos”, “Friends”, “New Girl”, and “Vampire Diaries”. 

Why are people suddenly more drawn to watching old TV? Well, studies suggest that watching older shows give people a sense of familiarity and comfort… especially in sitcoms. In a time where stress has been at an all time high, watching shows that we know well help to reduce our daily anxieties. However, Variety’s chief TV critic, Daniel D’Addario, explains that this trend has been happening since way before the pandemic:

 "Part of it is [a matter of] technology having caught up to our interest and desires. You no longer have to wait for TV reruns or invest in DVD boxsets – these things are waiting for you online. Then there is the comfort of familiarity. The things people are binging are not deeply experimental, you know the rhythms of these shows very well. It's about knowing what you're getting and letting it wash over you."

While spending the evening watching your favorite episode of “The Office” may help to distract you from your long day at work, health professionals are warning that watching too much TV can be damaging to your mental health. Even if singing along to the theme song of “Friends” makes you smile and giggle, always be sure to watch in moderation!

What shows have you binge-watched this year?

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