The Science Behind Why Millennials Love To Rewatch The Same TV Shows

by Caroline Nelson

It was another night, and I inevitably turned on another episode of "Sex and the City."

By now, I can recite each episode by heart, but it's just nice to turn it on and drift away to a land where writing in New York could get you a sweet place in Greenwich Village and some fancy shoes.

I know I'm not the only one who loves to consume the same movies, TV shows or books.

How many times have you watched "Mean Girls?" Be honest.

I know friends who rewatch "Gilmore Girls" and "Friends" and reread "Harry Potter" like it’s a ritual.

After yet another adventure through the trials of love and city life with Carrie Bradshaw, I started to wonder: Why was this so much more appealing than watching something new?

A 2012 article published in Scientific American suggests the reason we love reruns is because we know the outcomes.

A study of 23 subjects who had recently "reconsumed" a book, movie or vacation spot showed a somewhat obvious reason why.

The responses suggested that sometimes choosing to do something again was about reaching for a sure thing—the brain knows the exact kind of reward that it will receive in the end, whether it is laughter, excitement or relaxation.

Unsurprisingly, if I want to laugh and feel a little empowered, I know exactly which episode to turn on.

While I like trying new food, it’s easier to go to the District Taco down the street than the new restaurant that just opened.

I know what I am getting, and it’s a sure thing.

If only we could do that with life.

What's interesting is there was also another reason why we reconsume something, according to the researchers.

They also learned that people gained insight into themselves and their own growth by going back for a do-over, subconsciously using the rerun or old book as a measuring stick for how their own lives had changed.

It is subtle, but as I rewatch episodes as I grow older, I realize Carrie is actually an incredibly selfish person.

It’s something I never noticed 10 years ago when I first started watching the show in middle school, after my parents went to bed.

It’s clichéd, but it's true. There is a fear of the unknown.

There is comfort in routine and knowing what we will get with certain decisions.

While it’s small to choose to rewatch or reread something, perhaps it’s time to look at things surrounding us.

How many times do we date the same person?

The outcome may not be good, but it’s comforting to know how it will end.

Why do we go to the same bars or even hang out with the same types of people?

Change is scary, but change might be good.

Unfortunately, you might get food poisoning, or worse, you might completely fail.

However, I can tell you from personal experience that failing isn’t the worst thing.

I'm not going to lie; it’s hard to swallow, but it’s better than comparing yourself to a year ago and realizing you are in the exact same place.

After all, it’s the scary changes — not doing the same thing again and again — that get us places in life.

I do believe in taking a step back and appreciating how you have matured over your life.

Thankfully, there is Timehop to remind me of my most cringe-worthy status updated from high school.

But what matters is how you take life’s punches, not how “fabulous” your life is.

Think about it: What growing pains have you gone through in the past year? How did you handle them?

Sure, you might’ve ended up in a Taco Bell at 1 am with queso sauce on your shirt, but we can forget that one for now.

Keeping in line with my promise to myself, I am currently reading a book about President Nixon by Bob Woodward.

As you can imagine, it's quite a step away from what I usually read, but change is good.