So now you’re telling me that using re-runs of Absolutely Fabulous as my coping mechanism for three years is no longer allowed? I think not! Being the queen of ‘finding one television show or film I like and watching it every week for 6 months’ means that shackling reboots to an unhealthy obsession with the past is going to be a hard angle for me to agree with.
But don’t get me wrong, there is a difference between appreciating the beauty of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice series once every month and watching your favourite after-school show be pulverised by the hands of money-grabbing producers wanting a fresh fix of dollar from an audience desperate to return to their childhood. Generally speaking, reboots are never going to fill the void of those programmes you clung to in your defining years which promised you a sense of community and safety as you navigated your sense of self at the same time. However, just because ICarly doesn’t feel the same doesn’t mean it instantly becomes a soulless, poorly written TV schedule filler.
Reboots provide that sense of originality and fun for a new generation whilst simultaneously attempting to tackle any problematic concerns that made an original series rooted in questionable politics – such as Sex in the City – a chore to justify as an acceptable comfort show. Cult classic and personal favourite The Rocky Horror Picture Show will always come out top trump over its remakes, but the 2016 decision to cast trans actress Laverne Cox as the infamous Transylvanian allowed new and better representation in an age of opportunity and equality – this being just one example.
And hey, reboots don’t always mean re-dos; various shows kickstart their second wave of popularity with a spin-off. With The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad proving strong contenders. Prequels and sequels often have a different character focus and franchises actually often benefit from some form of additional series – whether successful or not – as it strengthens the depth of the fictional universe and provides an alternate understanding to a previously one-dimensional character.
And of course, we want space for original ideas and concepts, but reboots are hardly taking that away; is nostalgia really such a crime after the last few years? Watching and making reworked cinema delivers almost another level of comfort to viewers in a post-pandemic climate, both yearning for their own personal past, as well as the unachievable norm before masks and social distancing. Embracing the spin off may actually surprise you and if not, then at least you’ll have a reawakened appreciation for that box studio sit-com you watch on your sofa at 2am with rose tinted glasses.
Recycle your shows as well as your plastic and maybe you’ll like what you find!
– Mia Roe