Cristel Russell and Sidney Levy, researchers at Graziadio Business School shared their analysis of why people rewatch television shows they’ve already watched:
What I found in my research is that it’s not so much participants were yearning for the past. It’s that the rewatching experience allowed them to appreciate how much they had grown. It wasn’t yearning for the past; it was an appreciation of the present. The deep connection that you make to the show provides this self-reflexive moment that you’re like, “Wow, when I first watched this, I was 20. And now I’m 40. And I have kids.” You see it differently and that allows you to be like, “I’m a different person than I was then.”
I resonate with this point so much that I actually actively avoid watching old shows again. I’ve only rewatched two shows again, both of which had interesting side effects on my psyche. One of those shows was Evangelion, an Anime-mecha thriller turned-psycho mind blitz. It was extremely difficult to rewatch, especially while I was in a depressed state. I had to actively skip through the last few episodes because of the deep existential dread I felt from all the character monologues that touched on the dark parts of the human existence. In many ways, I just didn’t want to reprocess the show. Sometimes it’s nice to leave the distant memory in the past and feel its fondness, even if the memory is faulty.
I definitely invite you to read more of the interview as it extrapolates more on the power of rewatching old shows and the core motivation that goes behind it.