As streaming platforms make changes to accommodate binge-watching trends, a recent collection of shows has grown in popularity. Shows like iCarly and Victorious recently found themselves in the Top 5 most popular shows on Netflix. Other platforms like Disney+ and Paramount+ have had success because of their own nostalgic content including Drake and Josh, Zoey 101, Wizards of Waverly Place, Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and more.
“Nostalgia sells! I think having these shows become available on platforms like Netflix is a great marketing tactic because people love to relive their childhoods and feel like a kid again,” said Freshman Suzanne Drutz.
Because the platforms are used most frequently by Gen Z, several students noted that this may account for the shows’ recent surge in popularity.
“I think they’re popular because most of our generation watched iCarly growing up and those people are the ones watching Netflix the most,” said Junior Katie Jones. Jones also noted enjoying the content as a stress-reducing activity. “I enjoy watching shows I enjoyed as a child because it reminds me of a stress-free time.”
Of 72 respondents to a survey conducted of SMU students ages 18-22, 100% noted having fond memories of watching Disney Channel and Nickelodeon shows as a child. Of those same students surveyed, 83% noted having watched those shows recently on a streaming platform.
Some students even noted enjoying these shows now more so than they did as a kid.
“It’s fun watching them because now that I am older I feel like I understand them better and catch on to the jokes,” said Sophomore Gabi Silver.
Similarly, some students noted catching on to jokes with meanings they would not have otherwise understood as a child, expressing concerns about if they influenced them the same way in their childhood.
“Watching childhood shows when you’re older is a really interesting experience. Yes, you get to relive all of your fun nostalgic memories but I’ve also noticed some hidden inappropriate messages that I feel like could have subconsciously influenced me or other children in a negative way,” said junior Ayah Krisht.
In a stressful time period, living through a pandemic, and working through a semester that many have found incredibly difficult, some students expressed the importance of lighthearted content.
“I think they’re popular because a lot of shows that come out now are murder mystery or even the comedy is political. It’s not really laid-back comedy,” Jones said.
For some, considering these shows brought up concerns about how entertainment has shifted. With a heavy emphasis on social change, shows have oftentimes tried to include deeper meanings or more significant socio-political issues.
“Watching these shows reminds me of a time when kids didn’t have to worry about what was going on in the world. None of the shows were ever really pop-culture or current events related and the shows then really just allowed kids to be kids,” said Junior Alexis Mungioli. “There was no ulterior motive behind them, no one was trying to influence us to think or believe certain things. The only motivation was entertainment.”
As we live through historic and unprecedented times as students, using streaming platforms to remind us of simpler times has become popular. By looking back fondly to times that were more stress-free, students have been able to relax and enjoy lighthearted content that doesn’t engage with the socio-political landscape we are living through.