Why Do Students Choose Comfort Media?


Lilah Otten

Comfort movies have the capability to eliminate stress and radiate positive energy, even at school.

The feeling that you get laying down and switching the TV on after a long day is unmatched. It’s time to unwind and indulge in the calm. You turn on Netflix and scroll through each category: “Trending Now”, “Only on Netflix”, “New Releases”, until you see it. Your favorite category. “Watch it Again.” You see all the familiar titles of the movies and shows that you have seen a million times. Naturally, you choose to watch something from this category, but why is that natural? Why do we seem to derive comfort from repetition?

Though there are all kinds of theories on why we feel the need to rewatch the same things over and over again, Dr. Jeff Steffenson, the BSM school psychologist, shared his perspective. “Life in general can be scary, and causes us to be anxious, and comfort shows…feel like oh, that’s reliable and that’s stable and it’s steady, and it’s safe,” Steffenson said

There have been studies done by multiple different researchers showing that comfort shows or movies strongly correlate to anxiety. While appealing to some, the feeling of suspense is not for everyone, especially those with already high stress levels. People like this like to be able to get lost in worlds filled to the brim with predictability. “It is connected to anxiety because knowing what’s going to happen [in the show] kind of makes up for not knowing something in your life,” senior Terra Waymire-Rozman said.

Another reason that people with anxiety tend to find a sense of comfort in their favorite shows is the sense of connection. Whether it be an actor that they love, a specific character, or maybe it’s where the show takes place, feeling connected to anything that the show or movie offers can make up for a lack of connection in a world where they feel so alone.

It is connected to anxiety because knowing what’s going to happen [in the show] kind of makes up for not knowing something in your life,

— Terra Waymire-Rozman

In the past, there has been a theory that nostalgia is what makes a comfort show or movie comforting, and that this helps soothe people with anxiety because it takes them back to simpler times when there weren’t as many things to be anxious about. Though this point is very valid and may apply to some, it doesn’t to everyone. Waymire-Rozman doesn’t think that nostalgia and comfort shows/movies necessarily go together. “Comfort shows will be watched repeatedly, maybe every day, but you won’t do that for a show you’re nostalgic about because it will bring the show into the present (and you’ll lose that nostalgia),” Waymire-Rozman said in an email interview.

Comfort is an interesting phenomenon in the way that it is very subjective. While one might find solace in something because it is simple or because it transports them into a world that makes them feel at peace, someone else might feel at ease after returning from a place where their anxieties are at an all-time high. The relief that washes over them when they realize that it’s not real can put their own worldly problems in perspective. “I like to be transported into these lives where things are going a lot worse. I don’t actually have to experience it,” senior Eleanor Hutcheson said.

Comfort can come from anywhere and it looks different for everyone. The entertainment industry’s ability to create something that makes the audience feel an immense feeling of comfort is beautiful. What’s even more beautiful is the connections that people can make from having something they love so much in common. “There’s [inside] jokes with the show… it’s just like fun getting to watch it and know that other people like it too and you can talk to your friends about it,” junior Emma Grniet said.