Put Your Slippers on and Watch Something for the Twentieth Time
The ability of films to comfort and immerse us is unparalleled. Becoming lost in familiarity grants an escape from the uncertainty of our lives. There is so much that we cannot control, and being constantly connected certainly has its drawbacks. In such instances, switching off and returning to a favourite film or sitcom is restorative beyond compare. Already knowing the plots, twists and one-liners removes any suspense and guarantees enjoyment.
The ‘mere exposure effect’ is often cited to explain this, stating that the more times we are exposed to something, the more we tend to like it. Indeed, familiar films are easier to process, and it makes sense that we choose to rewatch the films which we understand well. Although intellectually stimulating films can also immerse you within their world, they seek to unsettle you by challenging your reliance on what is expected and easy. Sometimes you may look for such excitement and agitation when watching a film, but the occasional craving of familiarity and comfort is natural, particularly in such turbulent times. Predictability and homogeneity within films should not be discredited, but instead should be valued for their reliability.
We are also comforted by our memories of watching particular films and shows. They can represent pivotal moments in our lives, or more simply just time spent with family and friends. This nostalgia is a reminder that we will have similar moments in the future, and that there is so much left to experience. A more optimistic outlook is an invaluable outcome of watching a favourite film or TV show, particularly when the viewer wishes to satisfy a craving of comfort. Reminiscing the past is similarly influential when watching favourite films, as our inevitable human condition yearns to reflect on the past, particularly our individual past. Revisiting memories through a film which has not changed, no matter how much you have changed, reassures us in a rather special way.
Despite their fictional storylines, seeing yourself within a film can validate your experiences. Whether you identify with a character who looks like you, or faces similar challenges to you, there is some recognition and acceptance that we all struggle at times. ‘Ambient’ film and TV also serve to comfort us in such times. Watching a familiar film whilst preparing dinner or scrolling through social media acts as sympathetic and low-maintenance company. The films make conversation for you, and entertain you whilst you relax. They can provide alone time without feeling lonely. Perhaps an under-appreciated type of entertainment, the viewership of background film and TV is certainly on the rise.
The process of re-watching films and shows is a comforting break from everything overwhelming in our day. Their familiarity feels like a home away from home, and provides respite when it is needed. Whether you binge Friends, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, or something completely different, our favourite films and shows will always be there for us at the end of a long day.
By Tala Leanne Al-Kamil