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Psychologist explains why you can’t stop watching the same shows over and over

Psychologist explains why you can’t stop watching the same shows over and over

This expert reckons she knows why you still can't stop watching shows you've seen 100 times

Whether you're dying in bed from a cold, feeling down in the dumps or just in the need of some kind of company, your favourite comfort show is ready and waiting to make you feel better.

Even though you already know who ends up with who, if the character you adore survives and basically the entire storyline back to front, sticking on the series that you've seen 1,000 times somehow manages to soothe you.

Just hearing the hum of the opening titles has an instant calming effect, so it's no wonder we are all constantly chasing the high we get from rewatching our treasured TV shows.

But have you ever stopped to wonder why we're so obsessed with viewing the same programmes on a constant loop?

The Office, Friends, Peep Show, New Girl and Grey's Anatomy are prime examples of comfort show candidates - each have ongoing storylines, but individual episodes still stand on their own and can be understood without the extra context.

So people can pick the programme back up wherever they fancy without having to commit to watching a brand new series, which requires you to devote a lot of attention and patience while getting to know a whole new cast.

It's a lot easier to put the same thing on again instead of surfing through the thousands of options on streaming services - and that's after finally deciding between the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ or Hulu.

The overload of choices is often too much to compute for a lot of us after a long day, whereas it's effortless to rely on the series you have already seen - and loved - repeatedly which makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Friends is up there with one of the best comfort shows.

By this point, the characters on screen are so familiar that their presence in our home is somewhat similar to that of our real-life friends - you know all their ex's, the skeletons in their closets and have seen some of the most intimate moments in their 'lives'.

And for some strange reason, we love reliving their stories and never get sick of it. But why?

There's nothing better than settling down to watch the same thing for the 1,000th time.
Getty stock photo

Well, psychologist Pamela Rutledge reckons that we crave the 'structure and the predictability' that our favourite shows with simple plot lines - which allow them to be so easily consumed - provide.

She explained: "Finding comfort in remnants of pop culture isn’t a new phenomenon, although it is a strange one.

"The science of rewatching is simple and intuitive: we seek out familiar stimuli as opposed to unfamiliar ones during times of stress. We find it comforting - restorative, even - to watch things we’ve already seen because it is easy on the brain, and reduces its cognitive load.

"It can become really therapeutic, especially if you are feeling anxious.

"Watching the same piece multiple times reaffirms that there’s order in the world and that it can create a sense of safety and comfort on a primal level."

She encouraged avid series watchers to take notice of exactly how they are feeling when they want to stick their comfort show on, as it will help them piece together their own personal reasonings for it.

A lot of people also say they are soothed by programmes like The Office.

Pamela said: "It's like, I'm tired from the stress. I mean, we're basically exhausted all the time because we're under the stress of uncertainty.

"So what do I want to watch that will give me some comfort and some rewards that's easy, that doesn't drain my energy but gives me some back? And that makes shows like The Office or Friends a very good choice."

The psychologist also shared her thoughts on why we never give promising new shows the chance to rise through the ranks and replace our old favourites.

Pamela added: "We're really looking for something that we can enjoy that isn't going to use more of our energy, that's going to actually reinforce or relax or allow us to escape and give us a little bit of a vacation rather than tax our brains to figure out what's going on in a very complex plot."

Featured Image Credit: Getty stock image/NBC

Topics: Mental Health, TV and Film, Weird, Netflix, The Office, Friends