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Playback Prison: Start Anew

By Amy Natarajan

The millisecond that Parks and Rec clicks into focus on the television screen, something magical happens to me. It can be a terrible day, a stressful day, or a sick day, but in a few seconds of seeing Aziz Ansari dancing in his sequined suit, a warm feeling brews inside of me. A sense of comfort, that is all people seek when watching shows. I am what is referred to as an extreme case TV addict, but I prefer the terminology “enthusiast.” In my lifetime, I have watched over 100 shows, and am discovering more on the daily basis. As much as I savor the Holy Trinity (The Office, Parks and Recreation, and 30 Rock) more than life itself, I realize there are more trinities to construct in due time. With the plethora of shows accessible with a touch of a button or the mere click of the mouse, why do we settle for re-watching? The fear of stepping out of our comfort zone is an obstacle, but we never know what we are missing out on until we try it.

Familiar TV shows represent a pattern of comfort we don’t want to break from. But it’s our unwillingness to accept change that prevents us from taking a chance with a different television show  In TV shows, themselves, characters naturally resist a new order, but as they grow, they realize that change is inevitable and surprisingly rewarding. Whether it is a positive or negative experience for them, they learn and advance in ways their comfort bubbles would not have previously allowed them to. Why shouldn’t be do this in real life, too?

Recently I finished watching Dear White People after contemplating rewatching Parks and Rec for the umpteenth time, and I have never looked back. It was such a beautifully scripted show, with elements of comedy that I hadn’t until that time been exposed to. (I highly recommend it to people who wish to stay “woke,” and yes, that means you). It couldn’t be more dissimilar from Parks and Rec, and I love that fact. And yet, at first, it was uncomfortable for me to watch. I found myself, at first, over analyzing every detail and blowing things out of proportion from what the show originally intended. This method of holding on to the show was not healthy.  The more I did this, the more I drifted away from its meaning. question or overthink everything. I could purely consume the new material presented,and educate myself.

Ultimately, in all the hours I’ve spent re-consuming movies, shows, books, and songs, I could have learned a real skill, like playing an instrument or speaking several languages. Instead, I’ve perfected fictitious talents, like performing an uncanny impersonation of Winston Bishop’s monologue on what Saturday truly means from New Girl.  Trying new things can be daunting. The unfamiliar makes us nervous in a way that’s hard to describe. However pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones is actually good for us. Viewing new TV shows not only may help us to vanquish our fears, but it may also allow us to expand our minds and learn—both about new ideologies, and even a little bit about ourselves. As much as I am fond of seeing Tom Haverford outshine everyone around with his eclectic wardrobe, my perpetual contentment is hindering my opportunity to grow. So, start that show you have been putting off! You might find yourself loving something you wouldn’t expect.

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