Television programming is often times marked by certain eras, one concept gets hot and suddenly everyone starts falling in place as everyone tries to land their own version of the hottest show. Reality television is a recent example with shows like Survivor coming about, being successful, Reality television and networks scrambling for their own “real life” drama to put on the air. Sometimes this can be a good thing, other times it can be terrible, personally I feel the Reality phase was horrible because it helped foster the “famous for being famous” mentality that’s plaguing society presently.
At one point you were on television because you had a legitimate talent and were able to captivate an audience, so you earned your way on the air, now you just have to offer the most outlandish audition tape and you’re given a fast pass to stardom. This has led to a decline in quality television programs and filling our screens with junk, although the recent addition of shows like Breaking Bad have been a welcome change from this formula, they’re typically few and far between in comparison to the much cheaper to create reality or competition programs.
While the reality era has run for quite a while now it appears that a new trend is in the works and it could lead to the next era in television programs, something being called the “Nostalgia Age.” There’s been a movement recently to utilize nostalgic feelings of the viewing public in the hopes of generating buzz or bringing in viewers to the networks, and so far it’s been somewhat successful. One easy example of this is the use of part-time workers in WWE that were big names of the past; it stirred nostalgia in fans and their ratings were bumped, as a result they’ve added more former stars over the last couple years in order to boost numbers.
Another example would be the recent Kickstarter campaign by LeVar Burton to bring Reading Rainbow back, the nostalgia was so strong on this one that the fundraiser hit it’s one million dollar goal in around eleven hours. Following this success Netflix jumped on board by deciding to bring back The Magic School Bus, adding to their already impressive series lineup. Disney hasn’t been immune to the pressure with their upcoming Girl Meets World which is getting a big boost from people of my generation that grew up watching Cory and Topanga and have a desire to see them once again.
We are creatures of habit and can’t help but return to those things that give us comfort and for a majority of people our past, especially our childhood, is a huge source of comfort. This is why we argue that music was “better in our day” or an old version of a movie shouldn’t be remade because they “can’t do better than the original.” While that may be true in some cases, ahem…Friday the 13th, I’m looking at you, it’s not quite true in all cases. It’s not so much that the older is better, it’s just that we like that one more, and most of the time that’s because it reminds us of a simpler time in our lives.
Who wouldn’t love to go back to a time when you didn’t have to get up and go to work in order to pay bills? I know it’s cliche, but if I could go back and relive those days I would do it in a heartbeat. As a result, we love seeing those old shows come back, the old movies pop up on television, or that old song coming on our iPod, it makes us feel warm and safe inside like a favorite stuffed animal. Speaking of which, when are they going to bring back Bobby’s World? I say if Power Puff Girls can get a retooling, Howie Mandel should get to reprise his most Generic (It’s PRONOUNCED Gen-ER-ic!) role.