They say the classics never die and that is exactly true when it comes to television shows. There’s Full House, Charmed, Will & Grace, Murphy Brown, and The Odd Couple. What do all these shows have in common? They are all TV series that have been rebooted. Within recent years, there has been a revival of classic television with the majority of the original cast members. However, there is one question that needs answering: why do we love shows so much that, after they have ended, we are excited to see them rebooted?
Recently, I saw an article titled “Before TV ‘Revivals,’ There Were Just Endless Spin-Offs.” In this piece, writer Becky Little describes that revisiting past series is a “timeless feature of television.” Back in the last few decades, spin-offs became big. This concept allows for the networks to still make money on popular shows, but with a new twist and elements of the existing show. For example, from All in the Family came The Jeffersons, Maude, and Good Times. However, throughout history, there have been good and bad spin-offs. When a previous show is reimagined, fans are able to connect once again with their favorite characters and elements of their beloved shows. Today, a reboot is an updated version of a spin-off.
Just like spin-offs, reboots bring back a sense of nostalgia and comfort to viewers. In today’s world, throwbacks (bringing back the past) is a popular trend, so why not create throwback TV shows? In his article, Why Network TV’s Obsession with Reboots Isn’t a Bad Thing,” Josef Adalian describes three reasons why reboots work on major networks. Think about it: most reboots have come back on their original home network, such as NBC and ABC.
First, Adalian states that the goal of network TV is all about establishing relationships between a show and its audience. After all, a show is considered a success if it has high ratings, right? A reboot allows shows to pick up where it ended. Let’s take Fuller House. This reboot of the original show Full House is set in today’s time but follows the lives of now grown-up daughters D.J., Stephanie, and their friend Kimmy, as well as their children. If you loved watching the Tanners in the 1980s, you will probably enjoy seeing what happened to them and how their lives worked out in the 2010s. It is like you are reconnecting with old friends and catching up. According to Adalian, “Returning to the shows that made us comfortable in an earlier time is either an intended or unintended consequence of all these reboots.” Let’s face it – being comfortable is a favored feeling by most people.
In addition, reboots don’t prevent other shows from being produced. While there are multiple reboots coming back to network TV, there are also multiple new series and original ideas. No matter how many revisited shows there are, pilot shows will never stop being produced, because most people like a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new. I’ll admit it – regardless of how much I like a show, sometimes I want to see something unique and a new storyline. With this point, Adalian is telling viewers that the future for reboots isn’t a network takeover. If you aren’t a fan of watching an updated version of a past show, don’t worry. There will always be a handful of new shows to catch your interest.
Lastly, Adalian’s third and final reason: old TV shows aren’t sacred texts and reinterpreting them isn’t sacrilege. Sometimes it can be hard seeing a treasured show taking an opposite approach when being rebooted. However, keep an open mind, because you never know whether or not you’ll like a revival until you see it. Sometimes it is only the concept that is rebooted, or it might be the characters and a completely different storyline. Whatever it may be, know there will be changes, but always give it a try before you judge.
TV reboots are the latest trend, and the list of shows being revisited keeps growing. At this time next year, who knows how many revivals will be around. As for now, let’s just enjoy the TV blast from the past.