I have an obsessive personality.
The reason it took me so long to watch the Marvel movies is because I knew once I started I wouldn’t be able to stop. My obsessive personality means when I like something, I go all in. And that usually happens immediately. I don’t rev up, I go full force into obsession right away. Which is why I watched all 23 Marvel movies during the first month of quarantine.
Then I re-watched all the Marvel movies.
Then I re-watched them all again.
I kid you not y’all, I have now watched almost every Marvel movie three times. I’ve taken trivia quizzes about them and watched the blooper reals and behind the scenes footage. I did exactly what I said I would do. I became obsessed.
And it’s not just Marvel. I’ve seen all the Harry Potter movies more times than I can count. And I’ve watched my favorite shows like Downton Abbey, Parks and Recreation, and The West Wing four or five times each, at least. I just love re-watching things.
When quarantine started, I was excited about the prospect of having all this extra time. I was so excited to watch those classic movies I still haven’t seen and try out some new shows and maybe even watch/listen to musicals I’ve never heard.
Well here is my confession, I haven’t really done any of that.
Apart from the Marvel movies and maybe a new film here or there, when I’m ready to wind down at the end of the day with a movie or some TV, I’ve been returning to my favorites.
And I can act disappointed in myself all I want or make a pact to start something new tomorrow, but the truth is there’s a reason why I re-watch movies.
It’s about comfort. It’s about understanding. It’s about returning to an old friend at the end of the day instead of embarking on a new journey that I know nothing about.
When I turn on Downton Abbey, the characters feel like family and it gives me the same comfort of being home. I don’t have to worry about how Harry Potter is going to end, because I already know. It’s not work to turn on an old Disney movie, I can truly relax as I’m transported back to my childhood.
Maybe this is because I’m a performer and can’t really watch acting or productions without analyzing them somehow, but watching new cinema feels like work. I have to work to understand what is going on and learn about new characters and follow a whole new storyline. With the way the world is right now, that much new information is almost a little overwhelming.
Humans seek comfort above all else. When our environment is unsafe or scary, we turn to what we know. And I’d argue that generally, our environment has never felt more unsafe or scary than it does right now.
You know what combats those feelings of uncertainty? Consistency and returning to what you know.
Re-watching shows and movies can also bring up meaningful memories. When I watch Parks and Rec, I don’t just think of what’s happening on the screen, I think of the times I laughed quoting lines with my best friends or introduced my mom to the show or dressed up as Leslie Knope to emcee a show. It puts a smile on my face, and that is 100% a good enough reason to continue the habit.
This may sound ridiculous, but in a way, my favorite shows and movies are a part of who I am. And re-watching these things, whether it's at the end of a long day to help me fall asleep or as background noise while I cook dinner, helps me tap into my own personality. It helps me feel centered and grounded. Like the world can go as crazy as it wants, but Dumbledore will always be there to give me wisdom, Jake Peralta will always be cracking another joke, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s “will they, won’t they” romance will always end happily, and Steve Rogers will continue to encourage me with his get-back-up “I could do this all day” attitude.
So no, during quarantine, I haven’t become an advanced connoisseur of classic cinema or watched every sitcom Netflix has to offer. I’ll always love going to movies and experiencing something new, but in the middle of a pandemic when it felt like the world was coming down around me, I came back to what I know.
I hope you’ve found something that consistently brings you that same amount of comfort and joy. I hope you hold on to that and enjoy the heck out of it. I hope you never feel silly for enjoying what you enjoy and relying on it to make you feel better.
Sending love today and always. And in the words of President Bartlett on West Wing, “What’s next?”