I hope I don’t sound too pretentious when I say that I have never really been the type of person to spend hours watching television. While I will occasionally indulge in binge watching a show or a movie series, it is not my first choice on how to spend my free time.
Recently, this has changed. Since the pandemic has really put a strain on my social life, I have become rather attached to my Netflix subscription. Over the past year, I have probably watched more shows and movies than I have watched in the entirety of my life. In a time when reality has often felt like too much, the alternate worlds that television shows offer have become a bit of an escape from reality.
I have to admit that spending hours in front of my computer streaming a show has proven to be a really nice way to unwind. However, I always struggle to find something to watch. It seems as if when I am looking for something to watch, it is almost impossible to find a show or movie that actually sounds appealing. I don’t know about you, but it almost seems impossible to find a show or movie to watch when I am looking for.
Whether I am scrolling through the options on Netflix or Hulu, I always struggle finding something that actually sounds interesting to me. I do not have a specific taste, but I tend to stick to similar themes such as romantic dramas and anything to do with vampires. As a result of this, I have rewatched a few of my favorite shows and movies more times than I’d like to admit. Let’s just say, the number of times I have seen “The Vampire Diaries” is in the double digits — I blame the beauty of Stefan Salvatore, one of the main male leads on the show. In fact, I may or may not have just finished yet another rewatch of the show.
I don’t know about you, but there is almost something so comforting about watching something you love over and over again. Thus, I find myself in this cycle of rewatching shows and movies I know and love rather than trying something new. However, I have recently embarked on a journey to watch shows I have never seen before. To do so, I reached out to a few of my friends about my struggle and to see if they had any show recommendations.
When I talked to my friends, they shared a somewhat similar sentiment about this dilemma of rewatching shows that I have found myself in. One of them even explained how this phenomenon is psychologically referred to as the “mere exposure effect.” What this means is that we as humans develop a preference for things — in this case television shows and movies — because we are familiar with them. This effect is then strengthened by repeatedly being exposed to that stimulus. Many of my friends and I also bonded over the feeling of being intimidated by the endless choice of what to watch. Just look at how many different streaming platforms we have today — Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Showtime and the list goes on. At the end of our conversations, I was able to hear about the shows my friends are obsessed with — “The Queen’s Gambit,” “Bunheads,”“True Beauty” and more — as well as share a few of my favorites.
Since then, I have actually ventured into watching some of the shows I was recommended. Many of them were from genres I would typically not watch, such as Korean dramas and sitcoms. Much to my surprise, not one new show I have watched has left me disappointed. In fact, I think I may have some new favorites such as "Crash Landing on You,” a romantic comedy and K-drama about a South Korean heiress that unexpectedly lands in North Korea.
I had really thought there was nothing new left that would interest me, but I was wrong and I am actually glad I was. The question of “what show do I watch now?” is actually a lot more simple now that I think about it — all it takes is a chance.
By giving other genres a chance and trying shows I swore I would never watch, I was able to actually answer my own question of “what show do I watch now” before I even gave it a second thought. Watching new shows has also strengthened my newfound hobby of immersing myself into the worlds that television has to offer.
I am currently watching “Schitt's Creek” — a show I never saw myself enjoying — and it might be the funniest show I have watched in a really long time. It is a sitcom about an affluent family that suddenly finds themself broke and relocates to a small town. If I hadn’t challenged myself to try something new, I would not be laughing as much as I have been recently. After I finish watching “Schitt’s Creek,” I will continue my journey of watching shows I have never seen before rather than those I have seen multiple times.
It might sound a little cliche for me to say this but the truth is, you won’t know if you never try. That might be a little deep in regards to watching television shows, but I think it is a valuable lesson that can be applied to other parts of life. Whether you’re trying to find a place to eat dinner or how to spend your free time, I encourage you to take a risk and try something new. I don’t think we fully know what we like or don’t like unless we give it a chance!
Zoya Zahid is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at email@example.com.