Getting Lost in The West Wing

I love television. I used to be embarrassed about how much I enjoy watching television, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that I don’t care what other people think of me quite so much (I still do care a lot in some respects, but that’s another post for another day). If people think it’s sad that I enjoy sitting at home, more often than not on my own, watching an episode of my favourite television show, then so be it. I’m happy!

If you are a relatively new reader of Is That You Darling, you’ll realise, in the next couple of months, how excited I get about new television. The autumn, in the US especially, and here to  lesser extent, is the time for a television nerd like me. Not only do all my old favourites return with new episodes, there’s a slew of new shows to wonder about. New television is terribly exciting.

But as much as I long for new episodes of The Mindy Project and NCIS, I am a massive re-watcher too. I honestly believe that a lot of the time, I enjoy something more if I am watching it for a second time, rather than the first. And it turns out that I am not actually alone in this; there is research that suggests that watching repeats of our favourite television shows can actually boost happiness and make us feel more in control.

Now I’m not saying that watching something for the first time isn’t exhilarating; anyone who watched that episode of Game of Thrones a few weeks back will attest to that. But I know that at some point in the future, I will watch that episode again, and I know too that I will enjoy it even more the second time, knowing what’s coming (I mean, technically I knew what was coming the first time, as I’ve read the books, but you know what I mean).

My favourite television show of all time is The West Wing, a fact that should be clear to anyone who has spoken to me for more than about half an hour. At the moment, I’m in the middle of one of my big rewatches. I am watching at least one episode an evening, before I go to sleep, and without sounding like a total loser, it’s a bit like spending 45 minutes with a group of people I know very, very well, each day. When I don’t get the chance to see the real life people I know very often, I honestly believe it’s a good thing. And if you don’t believe me, ask yourself how often you find yourself watching Friends on Comedy Central, even though you’ve seen each and every episode at least ten times! It’s like pulling on the oldest, comfiest jumper you own.

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I’m also currently watching Lost. I finished watching it for the first time last month, and I went right back to the beginning and started again. Again, I am sure that people will honestly think that I am the world’s biggest loser, but I’m happy. I am now watching it with the eye of someone who knows how it all turns out, and I am also reading along with some of the analysis as I watch each episode. And I’m enjoying seeing all of my favourite Lost men in action.

For all this love of a re-watch, I have to say that it can be disappointing to find that the television schedules are full of repeats. I use box sets and the internet to watch my favourite shows for the second, third and fourth (and beyond) time, but when I settle down with my Christmas Radio Times, I want to see new episodes of my favourite shows, not the Christmas special from three years ago. Except for the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special. I’ll be writing a stern letter if the BBC stop repeating that one; it’s become as much a part of my Christmas routine as carols on Christmas Eve and Quality Street on Boxing Day.

What is your favourite series to re-watch?