An Oldie but Goody: Teens Use Social Media to Revive Popular TV Shows

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Due to the widespread effects of COVID-19, teenagers have much more time on their hands to enjoy their favorite pastimes. For many, this includes discovering TV series that aired and ended over the past few decades. Many adolescents have started to take more of a liking to these older shows compared to recent ones. Social media has also been a large contributing factor to how teens are grasping and observing these shows. 

Recently, a poll was taken for over sixty LHS students to see which “blast from the past” TV shows they have gravitated towards.  It is clear that Grey’s Anatomy and The Office still appeal to today’s teen viewers. Both shows were first aired in 2005, and their popularity continues to rise with each passing year. 

Gianna Taverna

Many viewers believe that these shows have a strong impact on their everyday lives, and social media helps to expand the shows’ popularity to more and more people. In recent years, social media has been depicted as the crossroads for social interaction and connectivity; however, its appealing nature can become almost addictive to viewers, and deliver serious damage to their mental, emotional, and social health. Jessica Fowler, a sophomore, shared her opinion on the positive and negative facets of social media: “Social media is both good and bad. At the same time, we can keep up with everything current, [but] the amount of negativity and toxicity that goes on is disheartening.” Current generations are making their voices heard through social media by highlighting various topics, concerns, and injustices in society. Junior Petra Roberts feels similarly: “Social media can be used to spread awareness about certain issues that we face today. However, a negative influence of social media is cyberbullying.” Parker Sloan, a freshman, addressed the negative side to social media: “Teens are using it for popularity and to compete with peers.”

These older television shows are not only providing relief during quarantine, or from a long day at school or work, but also tending to the emotional state of teenagers. Many look to these shows for comfort, a good laugh, or something to bond over with friends. Sloan believes that these TV shows are brought back by family influence: “[Teenagers] have an interest in what their parents watched as kids.” Fowler thinks that giving these old shows new life is good variation for her generation: “The current shows are cheesy, and teens want something interesting.” Roberts feels that old television shows are making teens feel comforted by showing what life was like before the pandemic and even illustrate the life their parents lived: “[The shows] are giving teens in 2020 an alternate perspective on life and insight into how people used to communicate.”

During her quarantine experience, eighteen-year-old Joselyn Martinez came across the hit crime series Criminal Minds. She then decided to post a video about it on Tik Tok, and she gained massive fame. She has over 45,000 followers on the social media app and has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times. Her videos have been viewed thousands of times, and now, teens everywhere are crazy for shows like Criminal Minds. She was interviewed by Horizon about how powerful shows like Criminal Minds can be during a pandemic that stripped all teens of a sense of normalcy.

Q: What influence do you believe these older shows are having on teens in 2020? 

A: Definitely a strong influence. I feel we are in an era where younger people tend to hyper-fixate on shows and characters sometimes as a coping mechanism, or even as pure entertainment. Our own personalities come out of these characters that are on TV shows. It has an impact on the way we behave, things that we say, even our own humor. 

Q: As a popular Tik Tok creator, what was starting out on TikTok like? 

A: I started Tik Tok just like anyone: without a purpose. You just go out there and find what content makes you happy and what content is fun for you. I started off making random comedy videos that were general, since I’ve always loved comedy. Then, I started watching Criminal Minds around March when the pandemic hit. Since I had more time, I started to love this show. I incorporated a lot of the funny parts of Criminal Minds into my videos. How I grew is a tough question. I don’t even remember when I started growing. The first video I made blew up, and now it has over 800,000 views. This is definitely something I want to do, and I started to think, “What videos would my audience like to view?” It makes me happy when I make others laugh and spread positivity. 

Q: Have you had any big takeaway moments from watching these older TV shows?

A: There’s a lot of lessons we grab from certain TV shows. I think the mentality, back then, in the late ’90s, early 2000s, was a lot different than now. I think it has affected us how shows, like Criminal Minds, have stayed consistent throughout these years. That affects the thoughts and opinions that we hold as young people. Even the way that these characters treat each other, like family, causes us to want the same relationship with our friends and family. It does have a positive impact on us, and we strive to have the same relationships with the people around us. 

Q: Do you believe these social media platforms are spreading positive or negative messages to teenagers? 

A: I think it’s a mix of both. It can definitely have a lot of bad things. It really depends on us and what we want to focus on. There are very nasty people who like to spread negative things [and] put hate comments to bring others down. I would say, as a creator, the majority of it is positive. The feedback and the love people give you; it’s so crazy, since these are people who don’t know you. The videos that are out there creates a friendship with people. We need to focus on the positivity social media brings. The more attention we give to the negative things, the stronger it is going to get. I’ve always been an advocate for not giving it any power, and to put it to the side. If you don’t give it any attention, they’re not going to get what they want. When you put attention towards the positive things, certain platforms have gotten stronger because of social media. 

Q: Do you see these shows becoming even more popular in the coming years?

A: There might be a wave of shows. For example, Criminal Minds was popular in the early 2000s, then it died out a little bit over the years, and now it came back out of nowhere in 2020. I feel like, in another twenty years, the same thing will happen, where it might die down a little bit, but eventually come back up. In certain cases, newer shows that have been released might die down soon, and then make a comeback. There are certain shows that have that element, where they aren’t destroyed by time. 

At times, one can find extreme contentment in being with their loved ones, friends, and even pets, by watching their favorite TV show. Now, more than ever, people are lacking a sense of community, normalcy, and comfort. These old TV shows provide a clear outlet to many by finding those moments through the show where they can all relate to a character’s situation or emotion. And with social media, it is so simple to share one’s favorite episode or line from a show to others around them, spreading the message that the show continues to convey. This world is always looking for the next big thing, but, sometimes, the best things in life are already there; one just has to go back to find it.