Revivals should teach us a lesson, other than the dangers of nostalgia

Television is at its best when it takes advantage of its form to teach us something new about our society. It has the unique power of broadcasting fresh observations into our living rooms daily. So why is television’s latest trend to bring the outdated views of shows that ended years ago back to our screens?

In its heyday, Arrested Development broke ground with its breathe-and-you-miss-it punch-lines. Gilmore Girls became a trailblazer for shows depicting complex female characters. 

These shows share another commonality aside from their ingenuity: their revivals essentially tarnished the original series’ reputation. How could these shows that once towered over the competition return with no backbone? Simply put, they had nothing new to say.

Arrested felt discombobulated and Gilmore Girls felt flat-out pointless. The reason these revivals were under whelming is that the new editions were just more of the same. Their non-evolved thesis statements couldn’t keep up with the insights of today’s hit shows.

On the other hand, new shows like Black Mirror, Orange is the New Black and Game of Thrones all deftly preach about timely issues such as the dangers of technology, human rights and power struggles.

Revivals undermine this power by recycling worn lessons in a new package. We jump at these revivals due to an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. We remember the ease and security we had when a show was in our lives, so we yearn to wrap it back around ourselves to feel a similar warmth. When we examine these shows today, we often discover they’re insufficient and just don’t provide the same comfort they used to.

Despite these shortcomings, I do still have some genuine faith in the idea of reviving old TV shows. With the entertainment industry more crowded now than ever, familiar faces could easily be used to draw audiences towards a show’s evolved and important message.

Will & Grace, one of many revivals premiering this September, is largely credited with having improved public opinion of the LGBT community and educated the American mainstream on LGBT issues. 

Fast forward 200 episodes and 10 years later to today, the LGBT community is now LGBTQ+ and the public remains clueless regarding spectrums of gender and sexuality. If the show’s characters could yield such a large, positive influence on popular culture, maybe they could repeat history and continue enlightening society again today.

Although the show has yet to air, I hope this example will illuminate how revivals can be utilized to teach the world a new lesson without trashing the old one. 

Josh is The Journal’s Assistant Lifestyle  Editor. He’s a second-year Film and Media major.


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