A few years back, far before the days of our illustrious podcast, I wrote an article about turning 30 right around The Golden Girls' 30th Anniversary. Among discussing the transformations happening in my life at the time, I also did a little research as to exactly why I had this compulsion to watch the same episodes -- that I could recite verbatim -- over and over, and never get bored of them:
It’s for precisely this analogue that I go back over and over to watching that same set of 180 episodes. I first thought I was a lunatic (which, let’s be sure, is still within the realm of diagnostic possibility), but then Scientific American unearthed a substantiated explanation. “I was very surprised,” says Cristel Antonia Russell, a marketing professor at American University who worked on a study to determine why folks dig reruns. “I thought that people reconsumed these things for nostalgia, to go back to the past. But they were actually very forward-looking and prospective.” Russell posits that people return to old, familiar entertainment to measure how their lives have progressed and changed in positive ways — in other words, it sparks contemplation when one can remember the feeling of watching something both then and now. Each time I sit with The Golden Girls, despite the references to obscure 1980s TV and political personalities, they reflect some portion of my life that is wholly in the present. The relative order of importance of their status as complex individuals, as friends, as enemies, as mothers — as women — has waxed and waned through the years depending on my life circumstance, but some element of their personalities always harmonizes with mine in every re-watching. Russell paraphrased the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, in helping to explain this re-consumption phenomenon, “You never cross the same river twice — it’s not the same river, and it’s not the same you.”
Check out the full post at The Riveter.
(illustration by Kate Worum)