Thanks to Netflix, I have seen The Office through more times than I can count. I occasionally look for other shows to start, but I usually give up and go back to my tried and true favorite show. I know I'm not the only one who does this; I have a few good friends in the same boat. We can quote "The Office" all afternoon, and we can make a reference out of any situation.
I know others who have seen it over and over, and memes all over the internet confirm this shared experience. Of course, "The Office" isn't the only case of people watching or listening to something over and over; people watch the same movie or listen to the same song repeatedly as well (which began well before Netflix,) but my experience with "The Office" led me to ask why people do this.
There are many theories about this "re-consumption" of shows or movies, as it has been named. Some conclude that it is a way to cope with depression; some argue that it provides a feeling of nostalgia. Others say that it is simply a habit, addiction, ritual, or status quo bias. Some make an attempt at a deeper reason, being that people gain insight to their personal growth or how well they've dealt with a challenging time in life by revisiting these shows, movies, or songs consumed for the first time during one such difficult period.
Personally, other than the obvious assertion that re-watching something is a habit, I see two main reasons behind re-consumption: humans like to cling to what we know works, and there is comfort in a known, even expected, narrative.
One of the reasons I always seem to go back to "The Office" is that I know it won't leave me disappointed. With the very limited time I have to unwind and watch TV, it's hard for me to invest that time into something that is not guaranteed to entertain me. When I know one show will satisfy my downtime needs, the idea of taking a chance on another show isn't all that appealing.
When people know they like something, they have a tendency to cling to it. It's the same reason some people order the same dish every time they go to a restaurant. We creatures of habit like to stick to what we know will satisfy us.
Along the same line, people find comfort in the expected. With all of the unknowns in life and the daunting lack of predictability in the world, it makes people feel good to know what is going to happen, even if it is in something as trivial as a silly show or movie. People can't be truly surprised or confused by what they know is coming, so there is a level of comfort in knowing the outcome of a plot.
Whatever your reason for re-watching your favorite TV show or movie, you're not alone in this phenomenon of re-consumption. Relax and watch "The Office" for the 20th time or so. Who's really keeping count, anyway?