In the last year I’ve watched Groundhog Day, Russian Doll and most recently the only romcom that my boyfriend will agree to watch with me, (it won the Critics’ Choice), Palm Springs. Two films and a TV show that centre around a common theme: characters who find themselves locked in the tyranny of a perpetual, monotonous routine, redoing the same day over and over again, until finally being set free by a higher power. I can’t help but see the irony of watching all these shows over Lockdown.
Lockdown: A period of time in which we all have found ourselves doing the same thing over and over again, (sans that week you spent cultivating your sourdough starter-which by the way not even Stephen Hawking could figure out how to get that time back), until we are finally set free by a ‘higher’ power. Or Boris, when he realised he needs to get the economy back up and running so he can pay for his wife’s bespoke, tailored kitchen tiles and pebble dash rendered walls.
Oscar Wilde said that art imitates life (or life imitates art if you’re a method actor) and it seems that TV schedulers are certainly reflecting this notion. Not just by the first male approved romcom that is Palm Springs which is ‘Groundhog Day at a wedding’ or Russian Doll which is ‘Groundhog Day where she keeps dying’, but shows like Friends, The Office, The Sopranos and Will and Grace are all reportedly seeing a resurgence in ratings. Is there something strangely soothing about the Groundhog Day formula that allows us to revel in reminiscence? Is knowing what’s going to happen in a period of time where you don’t know what is going to happen, a comfort?
Perhaps we seek comfort in the nostalgia of the familiar during uncertain times because it makes us feel more in control. For the past year every night I have watched an episode of Seinfeld. A ritual I really relish and revel. There’s something about the innocence of witnessing the naissance careers of Sarah Silverman, Kristen Davis and Bryan Cranston et al in their guest appearances on the show. Not to mention enjoying the deft comedic acting talents of Michael Richards before he got racist. It reminds me of a simpler time, when everyone could inappropriately touch each other without worrying about Corona or getting cancelled.
This wasn’t always the case. Pre-Corona I would only focus on the new. I would conscientiously click on the ‘We’ve just added a TV Show you Might Like’ on Netflix and watch it without question. Now all I want to do is cocoon myself in the classics, not even the heavily Propaganda-ed PR of the Line of Duty subliminal and blatantly liminal messaging agenda could get me. I’m just not interested. I’m like a single girl who’s only interested in sex if it’s with the ex, despite all her girlfriends swearing that I simply must get myself some Bridgerton as its the hottest thing ever. Why watch Sally from Corrie’s daughter get on and off Rege-Jean Page when you can watch Sally from Corrie get it on and off with Kevin Webster circa 1990-2002?
The is the era I find myself most enjoying. The nineties and early noughties. It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that this is the era I came of age. I watched the first series of Friends the other day and it felt like a warm hug. I can’t even imagine what rewatching Sex and the City is going to feel like.
So for now, I’m like a Playboy bunny- I’m only interested in old stuff. New stuff can wait. For now it’s time to seek comfort in knowing when Elaine is going to push Jerry and shriek “get out!”, in knowing when Ross is going to say Rachel, when Samantha is going to raise her eyebrows and say spotted dick like it’s an actual spotted dick and when Bill Murray is going to say, “Well, what if there is no tomorrow?”