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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

The novelty of rewatching, rereading and reflecting

“I, too, feel the need to reread the books I have already read… at every rereading I seem to be reading a new book, for the first time.”

— Italo Calvino from ”If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler”
As the temperature drops and the trees start to look bare, it seems that we are approaching the end of my favorite season — “Gilmore Girls” rewatch season (also known as fall). 

For the past few months, individuals of high taste have celebrated this season by revisiting the town of Stars Hollow in their free time. What better way to enhance the tranquility of autumn than by following Lorelai and Rory Gilmore as they navigate relationships, academia, small-town quirks and first-class dinners? 

Even when I’m not rewatching “Gilmore Girls” for the umpteenth time, I’m typically rewatching — or rereading — something. This tendency intensifies during the school year, providing a refuge from the stressors of school without making me worry about the fates of newly-favored fictional characters. Comfort pieces are a lifeline, and I’m certain I’m not the only one who turns to them from time to time. So, my question for today is: Why?

At first glance, the allure of familiarity is evident. There’s an undeniable comfort in revisiting a trusted piece of media. A great comfort media whether it’s a series, movie or book should feel like your favorite blanket. Sure, it might be old and depreciating in quality, but when you’re wrapped up in it, it’s perfect in all the ways that matter. 

However, if you look beyond the solace a familiar show offers, there is also an opportunity to delve deeper — both into the work itself and into your own soul.

When it comes to the work itself, each revisit offers a chance to catch the nuances, subtleties and character developments you may have initially missed. A revisit can also be a checkpoint. Various scenes may inspire you to reflect on who you were the last time you engaged with this media, and inevitably lead you to appreciate the work differently.

I was in middle school when I watched “Gilmore Girls” for the first time. Rory was everything that I thought I wanted to be and Lorelai had this fire and charm that I could only dream of having. They were figures to admire and nothing more. Now, as I’m wrapping up my most recent rewatch, I’m coming to terms with the eerie fact that I’ve nearly outgrown Rory, and I admire Lorelai’s resilience and resourcefulness more than anything else. As the years have gone by, I’ve evolved and so has my understanding of these familiar, unchanging characters. 

I think there’s also a profound lesson hidden within this ritual of revisiting the same story. Each encounter leaves a mark on the consumer, either through reflection or by simply noticing something that had slipped past you in previous engagements. When revisiting our cherished shows, books or movies, we might expect them to remain unchanged, a comforting constant in an ever-changing chaotic world. That’s part of what makes them familiar, after all. But the truth is, the experience will always be different — because you will always be different. 

Each time we return to a beloved story, we bring our personal growth, experiences and viewpoints with us. As our values evolve, our understanding of the characters and their journeys can shift. We may have once identified with one character but now see ourselves in another. It’s a reminder that we, as human beings, change and grow, and fortunately, our favorite works can change and grow with us. This realization doesn’t diminish the joy of revisiting a beloved story. Instead, it enriches the experience — especially when you take the time to truly appreciate it. More than anything else, I would say that the ability to resonate with a person across different seasons of life is a testament to the enduring power of storytelling.

So, as we bid farewell to the “Gilmore Girls” rewatch season and enter a new season of revisiting Christmas classics, let’s treasure the comfort these familiar pieces of media bring while embracing the changes they reflect within us. The value of revisiting a comfort piece isn’t just about returning to an experience, it’s about being fully aware of where you are in the present. In those moments of reflection, you recognize that, even when everything appears the same, nothing ever truly remains unchanged.

Joy Agwu is a senior at Pasquerilla West, originally from Bowie, Maryland. She is pursuing a degree in philosophy with a minor in constitutional studies. In her free time, she finds great pleasure in consuming media and reflecting on the deeper meanings behind the content she encounters. Whether you have recommendations for TV shows, movies, podcasts or any other form of media, or if would like to further discuss an idea presented in a column, feel free to reach out to her on Instagram @JoyfulJoyousss.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.