My flatmate is laughing at me because I am watching The Bold Type again. It’s not even a very good TV show, but it is what I need at this precise moment. When the world feels too much, the familiar characters and storylines help me zone out – but I’m invested enough that I’m still paying attention, unable to spiral while I watch. This is the TV sweet spot.
I am not the only person to enjoy a rewatch, but I perhaps take it a little further than most. Repeat viewings help me manage my anxiety, the familiarity lulling my brain into fuzzy comfort; there are no surprises coming my way. We know instinctively that this works: how many of us, at the start of lockdown in 2020, decided to consume all the box sets we had never got round to, only to settle back into watching the same old thing, again and again? We got our reassurances where we could.
I, however, have been rewatching TV shows long before the pandemic made it cool. It is the surest way to quieten racing thoughts, but it’s not all about mindlessness and oblivion. There is an understated joy in rewatching something smart and spotting new witty comments, subplots you missed the first time around or clever setups only visible with hindsight. Just because you have seen something already, it doesn’t mean you will enjoy it any less.
So, what is my ultimate rewatch? The West Wing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it. It has got everything you need to warrant repeat viewings: politics, romance, cliffhangers and about a million episodes. The characters are great, the writing pithy and every time I hear the theme tune, I feel a little better.
• Lucy is a political journalist, writer and disability advocate