Arts & Entertainment, Campus Life, Movies & TV

Are my streaming habits toxic?

My to-watch list is longer than Commonwealth Avenue itself, and it is only growing longer.

I am a lover of shows — mostly sitcoms, dramedies and a healthy dose of reality television — and I have no problem expressing that. However, I sometimes feel like an imposter because I recently resorted to rewatching my comfort shows. All of this is in spite of my longing for new and interesting content.

It feels as if there is a mental roadblock preventing me from actually moving on and starting all of these shows with so much acclaim. My brain equates starting a new show with getting up to work out. Maybe it has something to do with the emotional energy I know I will end up exerting — I quickly grow attached to these silly little shows, no pandemic required.

new girl playing on an iphone
“New Girl.” Watching the same movies and shows multiple times can bring you a sense of comfort and familiarity, but may also prevent you from exploring new media. ILLUSTRATION BY HANNAH YOSHINAGA/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Somewhere in the middle of my eighth episode of “New Girl,” I reflected on the idea that I may be diving back into these shows because they are familiar and easy. There is no need to remember new characters and their respective storylines, especially under the stress of school, work and whatever else the world throws on top of that.

The wide range of cable channels, streaming platforms and other ways to watch content have started to overwhelm my inner telephile. The endless, scrolling lists of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and HBO Max are a lot for anyone — especially for people dealing with their own struggles or issues.

I will say there are exceptions to this standard. Recently, I got into a lot of great shows on Hulu, including “Broad City,” “Ramy,” “Normal People” and “Woke.” While I haven’t finished all of these, I explored a lot of great shows and none of them disappointed me.

Movies put me in a similar situation — love the idea of them, but in practice they’re difficult to start. It is purely a matter of time and mood. Queuing up a coming-of-age movie at midnight after a crazy day doesn’t always feel like the proper experience, and I am in no space to follow a plot.

Movies are something sacred to me, an experience that should be treated in the perfect circumstances. It only adds to the completely unnecessary pressure I put on movies and television to “properly” enjoy them.

There is an element of this that can be attributed to my ever-shrinking attention span, but that cannot be the scope of the whole peculiarity. I recently enjoyed movies such as “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” and had no problem fixating my attention. I’m still mystified as to why I cannot simply sit and enjoy a movie whenever I decide to.

It almost feels self-destructive to prevent myself from enjoying new content like this. Gatekeeping these shows from my entertainment is pointless in theory, but for some reason I continue to limit my streaming.

This feels like such a highly specific issue, but at the same time it’s a universal phenomenon of being so attracted to nostalgia and the familiar. If anything, this issue should not exist. I am self-aware of this and capable of changing. However, it sounds much easier than I imagine it will be.

Something that recently occurred to me is that we often watch movies and shows we can relate to on some level. I watch a lot of quirky sitcoms because I feel like a bit of an oddity sometimes, or I watch romantic comedies because this pandemic has not made for a lot of romantic encounters in my life. At this point, this is as close as I will get to an answer for my problem.

Hopefully, I will soon be able to write about all the amazing new movies and shows I got to experience. There is a lot of content out there that should be explored, but we all might have to look a little further.

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