Why do we watch the same thing over and over? I was on a plane and watched an episode of “Chuck” that had seen twice before. We are talking about “Chuck” here. This was not a highly styled production, a nuanced presentation for which every viewing reveals new insight or previously unseen detail that further illuminates the story. This was not even a “classic” that by the force of its greatness, its reputation as a cinematic masterpiece, one’s senses are heightened or the soul inspired as if viewed for the very first time. This was Chuck. The best one could say is that the show is cute. True, I was on a plane and there was nothing else to watch on the screen. However, it is not as if there was nothing else to do. Work, write, read, or sleep were all alternatives. Even rereading a book trumps TV reruns.
And yet I believe that I am not the only human that succumbs to the lure of reruns. DVD sales of past TV shows now rival that of movies. This demonstrates major commitment to reruns. It is one thing to watch a show or movie on TV but it is another to spend money to have the show permanently in your collection so you can rerun 24/7.
So why rerun. It certainly is not about intellectual stimulation or growth. Comfort? Laziness? Familiarity leading to comfort? Is this like comfort food? Are reruns meat loaf and mashed potatoes for our psyches?
Reruns do take us back to different points in our past. What was your life like when Seinfeld introduced Yadda, Yadda, Yadda? When Cosby was raising those precocious kids along with his younger, too beautiful wife. Or for me when Dick Van Dyke was tripping over the ottoman? We were younger certainly. Are reruns a mental fountain of youth? Or a time machine?
We have become passive in our viewing habits. There must be some reason why we allow TV networks and cable stations to get away with so little new programming. I would love to see a static of what percentage of total viewing time are programs seen for the very first time.
Next time I will resist the urge to watch a rerun. In fact I will cut down on TV time altogether. My focus will be on improving my mind, body and spirit.
Of course I could watch this 1,000 times.