Why Rewatching the Same Shows Is Actually Good For You

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Sandra Rojo)

Have you ever been forced to defend your TV viewing habits? One of the most grating examples of this is trying to explain why you keep watching the same shows over and over again. Honestly, if you don’t already know why I’m dedicated to rewatching “Nurse Jackie” every few months, then you might want to check out a new study from the University of Chicago. Long story short: Rewatching stuff you’ve seen a million times before just makes you feels good.

So, what precisely about a drama-and-pain pill-addicted nurse makes me (and anyone else who has the show in constant Netflix rotation) feel good? The article, titled, “The Temporal and Focal Dynamics of Volitional Reconsumption: A Phenomenological Investigation of Repeated Hedonic Experience,” is a very fancy-schmancy way of confirming what those of us who revisit our favorite characters’ lives on a regular basis already know without a scientific co-sign.

Referred to as “reconsumption,” the article compares the sensation we get from rewatching our favorite TV shows to the same feeling we experience when re-reading books we enjoy or visiting our favorite spots around town:

Consumers gain richer and deeper insights into the reconsumption object itself but also an enhanced awareness of their own growth in understanding and appreciation through the lens of the reconsumption object.

As Popsugar writer Chanel Vargas points out, the appeal of repeatedly turning to the same shows lies in the familiarity of characters, settings and plots. And it goes without saying that people form pretty strong attachments to these TV worlds. Look no further than the online uproar that took place when the world found out that Friends is most likely leaving Netflix. That alone proves that TV shows we connected to at one point continue to play an important role in our lives long after new episodes stop airing.

Instead of watching something new, you could just turn on your streaming service of choice and eagerly wait for what you already know will happen—maybe even be surprised by some previously unseen detail, even after your 20th watch.