It’s 8:58pm on Friday night once again and with popcorn and blankets at the ready, I set up All4 to watch the newest episode of Gogglebox. This time I’m not in my lounge in my hometown but in my new university accommodation, and watching on my computer screen, still trying to make it feel like it’s mine. But as the minutes turn into the end of an hour-long episode, I begin to feel like a part of me is at home once again. It’s like Pete and Sophie are my surrogate siblings.
And I just wanted to say thank you.
Through these first few weeks at university, it has been hard. I’ve had to adapt to new surroundings without the comfort of my family being there to guide me through every wobble that has inevitably occurred. I know this feeling is normal for most students but, personally, it has been so difficult to adjust, especially when I had been at home for the last 18 months basically 24/7. However, in that hour each week I manage to forget where I am as I look at the screen before me and watch my stand-in family react to that week’s events on their TVs.
The show was a source of relief during the persistent and monotonous months of lockdown; a way to escape from the reality of the situation with a witty comment from Jenny and Lee to soften the blow of the real world. Giles and Mary’s harmless bickering was welcoming as it filled the spiral of panic that was clinging in the air during this confusing time.
As the restrictions eased, my obsession with the show didn’t. I continued to keep up to date with these strangers on my screen, watching and re-watching previous series with elation on Netflix and Amazon Prime as previous episodes were added.
Soon enough, they were no longer just strangers on my TV screen.
It was a source of comfort that became part of my routine whether that be the early mornings when I had to wake up for college, getting ready to leave for work during the summer or the hours leading up to arriving in Exeter (the first series of Celebrity Gogglebox had been put on Netflix the night before!). It helped to ease the nerves that had been slowly brewing since the application process for university. I especially loved it when Rylan and his mum were trying (and almost failing) to get rid of a fly in their living room.
Gogglebox somewhat reminds of my own family. For example, Issy and Ellie having an argument over their portions of KFC reminded me of my sister and I bickering over what we wanted to watch when we were younger. And when Mary and Marina sang along to the tunes of Frank Sinatra, it brought me back to the numerous times that my parents, sister and I would sing along to the songs on the radio while driving in the car. Reminiscing and embracing the little moments through watching this show and the interactions on it has allowed me to feel at ease in a place which isn’t somewhere I’m fully at home yet.
So, when I watch Gogglebox by myself in my room, I feel like my family are there with me – even though they are many miles away.
These families let us come into their rooms and I’m honoured to let them into mine, indirectly making me feel like I am at home, and I am so grateful.
Thank you for the laughs.
Thank you for the joy.
And thank you for the making me feel at home in a place where it doesn’t fully feel like it just yet.
— Lydia Gilroy
Featured Image Source: Still via Youtube // Pete and Sophie’s Funniest Moments / Channel 4