Skip to navigationSkip to content

The age of comfort TV: why people are secretly watching Friends and The Office on a loop

By the Guardian

We are in an era of ‘prestige television’, with unprecedented choice and quality. So why are so many of us streaming endless reruns of 90s sitcomsRead full story

Comments

  • Also share to
  • I believe the reason so many of us rewatch shows like Friends is because that show does not drain you like so many of the new shows that are on Netflix. People don’t want to feel stressed. Watching shows like Mind Hunter requires a lot more effort than Friends and at the end of the day entertainment has to be precisely that.

  • What pulls them in? "I got addicted to the warmth, and then I got addicted to just feeling good about myself.”

  • Yes to "Gilmore Girls" as an option here. I went to a college-prep private high school—and a long day listening and learning can be taxing as one with a hearing loss—so I enjoyed it when ABC Family had "Gilmore Girls" on when I came home. My mother got into it too... to rest a bit or watch while ironing

    Yes to "Gilmore Girls" as an option here. I went to a college-prep private high school—and a long day listening and learning can be taxing as one with a hearing loss—so I enjoyed it when ABC Family had "Gilmore Girls" on when I came home. My mother got into it too... to rest a bit or watch while ironing, all before cracking down to make family dinner.

  • I like the fact that I don’t feel as if I’m missing anything if I don’t pay attention. Watching shows that are familiar allow me to multitask,

    easily fall asleep, and truly relax.

  • Potentially a positive echo-chamber effect? Watching only good-feel shows and getting a positive boost from all the negativity in life and at work.

  • With so much influx in my life currently from moving from coast to coast and huge abrupt changes with my company, I find myself reverting back to shows that are very familiar. Friends and Sex in the city have been my go tos.

    I assume, with so much unpredictability at certain points in life, people find

    With so much influx in my life currently from moving from coast to coast and huge abrupt changes with my company, I find myself reverting back to shows that are very familiar. Friends and Sex in the city have been my go tos.

    I assume, with so much unpredictability at certain points in life, people find solice in characters they identify with and the warm hopeful feelings of "everything will be OK" is a daily 30min reminder in an effort to stay positive and hopeful.

  • If I see one more Friends re-run on my TV, I will fall into an endless time-space feedback loop myself. If I see one more Friends re-run on my TV, I will fall into an endless time-space feedback loop myself. If I see one more Friends re-run on my TV, I will fall into an endless time-space feedback loop

    If I see one more Friends re-run on my TV, I will fall into an endless time-space feedback loop myself. If I see one more Friends re-run on my TV, I will fall into an endless time-space feedback loop myself. If I see one more Friends re-run on my TV, I will fall into an endless time-space feedback loop myself. If I see one more Friends re-run on my TV, I will fall into an endless time-space feedback loop myself. If I see one more Friends re-run on my TV, I will fall into an endless time-space feedback loop myself.

  • Because it’s once place in this chaotic world you know what you’re getting. No thinking involved. Same reason I’ve read Harry Potter 4 times through.

  • We shall never underestimate audience's taste. Friends was fresh, smart, ironic, genius and sui generis.

  • This made so much sense to me. Especially in a time where people can feel completely exhausted before even sitting down in front of a TV at thr end of a night. Comfort television shows allow us to be entertained without the pressure to be actively thinking about it. Good insight here.

  • Decision fatigue for sure. Why take a bet when you know you like that time Chandler did whatever. I go low brow when I don’t want to think. For some people that’s reruns and for others it’s reality tv. My go-to is nature and animals shows. Especially because whenever a good show comes out I inhale it

    Decision fatigue for sure. Why take a bet when you know you like that time Chandler did whatever. I go low brow when I don’t want to think. For some people that’s reruns and for others it’s reality tv. My go-to is nature and animals shows. Especially because whenever a good show comes out I inhale it and then look around the room doe-eyed like I didn’t know I’ve robbed myself of good content until the next scheduled dumping. At least a couple shows are still weekly, and force you to wait instead of snorting the whole bag at once.

  • Prestige television unprecedented quality and quantity. The sounds like an old tv ad for RCA. ( and where is RCA today)

    Sitcoms were popular because they didn't need much mental involvement even the issues raised were obvious. Sitcoms were funny and even allowed us to laugh at ourselves.

    Does anyone

    Prestige television unprecedented quality and quantity. The sounds like an old tv ad for RCA. ( and where is RCA today)

    Sitcoms were popular because they didn't need much mental involvement even the issues raised were obvious. Sitcoms were funny and even allowed us to laugh at ourselves.

    Does anyone seem to realize that some of the best shows are old shows that don't require premium cable or streaming. Big Bang and Modern Family Gilmour Girls Mash Colombo and almost everything PBS/BBC.

    It seems prestige TV services are missing an important point. Sort of like New Coke.

    I enjoy watching Friends and Big Bang so I can see how many jokes got reworked. Simple pleasure no CGI no blood vampires zombies superpowers no involved plot. All hail Mork and Mindy.

  • Shows like these are similar to muzak; inoffensive background noise that you probably don't pay full attention to while completing other mundane tasks. Additionally, there's the element of nostalgia: if you weren't in the same position as the characters of these shows when they first aired, maybe they're

    Shows like these are similar to muzak; inoffensive background noise that you probably don't pay full attention to while completing other mundane tasks. Additionally, there's the element of nostalgia: if you weren't in the same position as the characters of these shows when they first aired, maybe they're easier to identify with now. Having spent over a decade in a North American corporate envy, 'The Office' was much more identifiable for me now than when originally broadcast.

  • I do this with streaming platforms but I can’t do it with podcasts. Though I do fall asleep listening to podcasts.

  • It says a lot about our society when we go to the 90’s to feel good again. Comfort TV.

Want more conversations like this?

Join the Quartz community for all the intelligence, without the noise.

App Store BadgeGoogle Play Badge
Leaderboard Screenshot

A community of leaders, subject matter experts, and curious minds bringing nuance back to how we talk about the news.

Editors' Picks Screenshot

No content overload: our editors will curate the most notable and discussion-worthy pieces for you every day.

Share Screenshot

Don’t just read the story, tell it: contribute your ideas and experience to the dialogue.