In Disney+'s WandaVision, a woman unable to cope with tragedy from the outside world creates a bubble for herself. She fills it with the few people she cares about and the familiar tropes of her favorite TV shows. It's a world she knows. A world she's comfortable in.
There is perhaps no better metaphor for those of us who have been largely stuck at home for a year during the pandemic, and who have found themselves looking for comfort in TV shows they've already watched.
Never in my life have I had more time for new shows, new movies or a new book. And yet I find myself watching the same things at night, over and over and over again.
I rewatch my favorite comedies. Scrubs. Then The Office. Then Community. I laugh at the jokes I used to laugh at when I was younger.
I've rewatched prestige TV. Succession. Mad Men. I relive the twists and turns in a story I already know the ending to.
On weekends, I rewatch Marvel superhero movies, or Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars, immersing myself in worlds I am already familiar with.
But ask me to watch something new? Pass.
The idea of watching something new, something that may challenge me, is just too much right now. I don't want to be challenged — I'm already living through a pandemic that has completely upended daily life. What I want to do is sit back and relax with the characters I already know, the universes that make sense to me.
It's what makes WandaVision — one of the few new shows I have given a try — so relatable. Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, has set the rules of her own universe, where the only tension she experiences is the hijinks typical of a sitcom. It's a level of tension she can handle. It's why, in times of crisis, we so often return to comfort TV.
And just like in WandaVision, it's hard to shake the feeling that the world outside will come knocking eventually. Maybe it isn't a secret government operation armed with drones and tanks. Maybe it's simply the thoughts that maybe I should be more productive — that I should be learning new things, sharpening my mind, staying up to date on the latest cultural trends, otherwise all of it will eventually catch up with me.
And then I sit back, turn on a favorite show, and I'm reminded that it's OK to go back to what I already understand. I can live right here, for now. ♦