What is it about bad television that feels comforting? I put up my Christmas tree this weekend and while doing so, I popped in a Dark Shadows DVD. I’d never seen Dark Shadows (it was a bit before my time) and after talking about the recent film adaptation, a co-worker lent me her DVD which is a compilation of fan favorite episodes. I found them campy and kind of ridiculous, but at the same time, oddly comforting as something in the background while decorating my tree. I’ve noticed this before. When occupied in a mindless sort of way (folding the laundry, aimlessly perusing the internet, putting up or taking down decorations, etc.), old, crappy, vaguely familiar television or movies are best suited for background noise.
It must be something to do with nostalgia. Even though I’d never seen Dark Shadows before, the general look and feel of the show (made and aired during the late ’60s/early ’70s) must have been enough. Usually, I prefer reruns of Roseanne or Scrubs. Friends will suffice. As for movies, there are a few I find myself drawn to but almost anything I’ve already seen and loved will do. For example, just this past weekend, I encountered Finding Nemo on Starz (I had a free weekend) and it sucked me in almost instantly.
Yesterday, the BBC mini-series Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle was on BBC America and again, I could not help myself. Any of the Bourne movies, The Shawshank Redemption, Dances With Wolves, When Harry Met Sally…, Goodfellas – these are movies I’ve seen dozens of times and yet, if on television on a wintry afternoon, I will sit in a vegetative state on my couch and watch again. Why are they so impossible to resist?
We are creatures of habit after all and as a rule, we tend to veer toward the familiar. I suppose that’s all it is. Like eating your favorite meal after an impossibly long day, these old, familiarand movies are “comfort” entertainment, reminding you of what you used to love.