2020 finds comfort in binge-streaming on 90’s TV

90s comfort TV

Since being quarantined, I have watched my fair share of 90’s TV shows.  I absolutely love to laugh and I get my chuckle-fix from Friends, Seinfeld, and Everybody Loves Raymond.  These shows really bring home the bacon with their laughter with each episode.  I find my 90’s guilty pleasure is creating a four-walled barrier around the couch, “protecting me against the world and the coronavirus”.  Like comfort food, we can also have comfort TV.

The Psychology of 90’s Comfort TV

What do we see when we turn on the TV?  Coronavirus stories left and right.  Sorry new shows, but bleak times call for comfort TV.  Familiar, pacifying, and predictable basically sums up the 1990’s sitcoms.  Here we have a recipe for comfort TV while stuck at home. (Are you thinking about a big bowl of mashed potatoes?  Or a big slice of chocolate cake?)  If you are looking for comfort TV where you just sit back and chill, look no further – the 1990’s TV shows deliver.

The 90’s comfort TV

These shows that aired on TV in the 1990’s do not have a lot of the components of a TV show that you may watch tonight.  Take Seinfeld for instance, you will not see active emotional engagement, a mind-blowing plot, or amazing performances that take your breath away.  Of course, you won’t!  It’s a show about nothing!

I want to see Frasier’s bigger than life ego (in small dosages).  And you remember Family Matters with Urkle’s nasally laugh and his corny suspenders?  And talk about nasally.  Do you remember The Nanny?  I want to reminisce about my family sitting together in the living room watching Married with Children.  Or watching X-files with my brother with one eye closed and the other eye open.

90’s TV

These shows are great because they entertain, they’re short (mostly 30 minutes in length) and the best part is, everything wraps up in a neat package at the end of the 30 minutes.  Why wouldn’t someone feel some level of comfortableness when watching Friends?  Or Cheers in the family room?

The List of 90’s TV Shows

Over the past few weeks, viewers have been coming up with their own “Comfort TV List” that they posted on Twitter and Facebook.  The lists are heavy on the decades-old sitcoms such as Seinfeld, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Cheers, Boy Meets World, The Golden Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Law and Order: SVU.  Really the only commonalities between these shows are that they are all gratifyingly familiar which creates warmth and comfort on the inside during this global crisis.  These warm and comforting feelings are what the majority of the population needs as they shelter-in-place every day, maintain 6 feet social distance wherever they go and wash their hands until the skin rubs off.  I need some comfort TV just reading that last sentence!

90’s TV

How to Cope with the Coronavirus Crisis with 90’s TV Shows

As you may have noticed, people cope with trauma in different ways.  Mom reads her romance novels while dad tinkers in the garage.  Sister gets lost in her music while brother is working on World of Tanks.  Just as different coping strategies calm different symptoms of anxiety, the same is true with TV shows. 

Anxiety

During difficult times, people tend to gravitate toward television series that are low-stakes, light, and uplifting in order to live with our “new normal” because they feel ANXIOUS.  These types of TV shows that were aired at the end of the 20th Century are great for the troubled soul.  With these particular shows, nothing bad happens and everything works out in the end.

A little nostalgia from 90’s TV shows on autopilot

Psychologists believe watching shows such as The Office, Friends, or Cheers is a way that people can attempt to return to another time or a period when everything seemed easier.  It doesn’t take much brainpower to watch these shows so it doesn’t feel like work.  Watching shows that do not require a lot of thinking, makes an individual feel relaxed after a long day filled with anxiety.  The bottom line, if you allow yourself to indulge in this comfort TV, the entire experience can be beneficial for your mental health.

mental health and 90’s TV

The flip side of “funny” 90’s TV Shows

On the other hand, there are people who would rather watch a show that is on the dark side such as The Twilight Zone.  For these people who have a bleak outlook on life in our current situation, watching similar shows can be comforting to them. 

The Twilight Zone on 90’s TV

If they watched Friends, they would probably be distressed because of something called social comparison.  Psychologists say this explains the viewers who have watched Contagion and Outbreak without batting an eye during this crisis.  Watching movies about pandemics, while eating popcorn, with something similar occurring in their own backyard is a way to show themselves that their life isn’t all that bad because it could be worst. 

The conclusion to the awesomeness of 90’s TV

Coronavirus Boredom and 90’s TV

This summer and fall’s TV producers are having difficulty now with the whole coronavirus fiasco.  Right now, people are whiling away the hours at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  As a result, it becomes emotionally draining to watch a new series on TV, psychologists say.  The formula-style shows of the 90’s is just the right medicine for people waiting for the coronavirus to blow over and get back to life.  The 90’s sitcoms are all predictable in a world where you do not know what is going to happen next when you read or listen to the news.

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References

https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/03/seinfeld-frasier-and-the-psychology-of-comfort-tv/608497/

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