Maybe you’re like me and sometimes as you’re scrolling through your streaming options, your channels, or pursuing your DVD collection you think, “Hey I probably should watch that new thing everybody is talking about but really I want to watch this old thing for the hundredth time.” I suppose I have the added prompting of this column that makes me feel occasionally that I “must” watch something because there is a lot of chatter about it. But yet, there I find myself: being inspired by Leslie Knope’s optimism on Parks and Rec, being amused by Lorelai Gilmore’s relatable love or maybe addiction to coffee, or laughing as Liz Lemon yet again has to manage the crazy people and things in her life.
Eventually I decided, I’m not going to feel bad for watching something I’ve already seen but fills me with delight just because I’m suppose to be watching something cooler, newer, or whatever. Life's too short to pretend to like any pop culture offerings just because somebody told you you should (even if that somebody is me).
However, I do think there is list of criteria we can use to find out if our beloved show is really worth our rewatch time. And here is that list.
First, are the characters likeable? I am the sort of person that can barely watch something once if I don’t like the characters, however if the story is interesting enough I can sometimes be swept in for a time. But if I find myself going, ugh, of course these terrible people’s lives are a mess or watching just so I can judge them, I’m out. This is why I have never finished a Shonda Rhimes show even though I’m quite certain she an extremely talented creator. I can just only watch cheaters, murders, or otherwise forever emotionally stunted people for a couple seasons until I’m bored, annoyed, or both.
Which brings me to my next criteria, does this make me feel things I want to be feeling? For some of us a good cathartic cry is exactly what we need on a bad day. It’s why all my friends in high school watched “A Walk to Remember” constantly. For others we need something optimistic or that makes us laugh. Which is why I have a number of comedies on the ready. Maybe you love to feel inspired to do great things or be brave, which is why I find Veronica Mars weirdly rewatchable. But if you leave a show feeling worse about life, people, or yourself maybe it's not worth the rewatch even if you loved it the first time through.
Finally, is this show or movie actually bringing me joy, or am I just filling time? This last one is tough because I, lover of many things pop culture, am going to say something crazy. Sometimes we should just turn off the screens. As much as I love a good binge watch of a show I have loved for a long time, if I’m just really scrolling Instagram the whole time or if I look up in five hours and think “What did I just spend my day on” maybe I should have just gone outside, called a friend, took a nap, or read a book instead. Which isn’t to say that every binge watch is bad. I was recently reminded of how after surgery I watched a season of New Girl with my mother-in-law who had come to help us for a few days. This was an excellent example of a great rewatch because her joy over watching the show for the first time gave me joy. But other times I’ve sat at the TV all day thinking I’d feel refreshed spending some time with some old fictional friends of mine only to find at the end of the day I was just as tired as I was at the start. I said at the beginning life’s too short for pop culture that isn’t doing anything for us. So my advice, rewatch that show you love. But just think about if it's actually worth your time, and how you’ll feel at the end, before you give it your whole Saturday.
Strange Perspective is a weekly look at all things pop culture by columnist Rachel Strange.