The dangerous allure of binging happy sitcoms

A cupboard full of snacks, a charged laptop and my favourite TV sitcom playing: an introverts dream. With Community joining Netflix from 1st April onwards, the thought of spending lockdown re-binging TV series is tempting. Be it The Office, Gilmore Girls, Parks and Recreation or The Good Place: I have watched them all multiple times, what would be the harm of going through them again?

I watch sitcoms for the same reason I used to drink: to turn my brain off. By watching Steve Carell get up to the silliest antics, I can forget my to-do list and all the tasks I was hoping to accomplish today. After the first or second rewatch, my brain activity is the same as mindlessly scrolling through reddit. I’m wasting time enjoying the occasional endorphin hit the jokes produce.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the shows are bad. They are amazing, and I have spend a lot of time analysing them such as this blog post about The Good Place. But what I’m doing with the content is. In a Myers-Briggs test my company made us do a few years ago, my result came out with this: when stressed, most likely to rewatch old TV shows and films. And they were right!

I feel safe with sitcoms, especially if I already know the plot points in advance. I know what to expect, and there is minimal stress involved. Inside this comfort bubble, I get too used to the minimal risk factor associated with the fictional storylines, and my stress capacity decreases. I would watch my shows all day when I stayed in depressed, and then easily get overwhelmed when going outside. I didn’t even want to watch other highly recommended sitcoms, I would just play the same old show on loop.

I have friends who do the same with Disney movies or kids shows such as My Little Pony; the principle still applies. Maybe I’m being too harsh on my coping mechanism, and all this screen time will result in me becoming the greatest sitcom expert there ever was.

EDIT: I wrote the post above, scheduled it, and watched some Community in the evening. I laughed out loud and slapped my legs for the first time in days, and I take it all back. Let the binging commence.
What do you think? Do you have a favourite show you love to binge?

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