Mind & Body

‘my antidote to this extreme uncertainty is rewatching sitcoms and romcoms’

In a world full of uncertainty during a pandemic, I’ve been turning to sitcoms and rom coms where I know it ends up alright – with a happy ending. The tales-as-old-as-time films in which best friends fall in love, and young women score their dream jobs are a nice reminder to my anxiety that everything will in fact be okay.

If there’s one thing we’re all in a large supply of right now, it’s uncertainty.

Although we never really know what’s on the cards for the future – the US election, the COVID pandemic and 2020 at large, have brought a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘what could be around the corner’.

There’s the recession, if – and when – they’ll be a vaccine, and if we’ll all get to see our families at Christmas.

So, to help ease some of my anxiety around this, I’ve turned to rewatching old sitcoms and putting on trusted rom-coms where I already know the ending.

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“I want happy endings on top of happy endings”

Usually, I’m not a huge fan of finishes in tight flawless bows.

I like endings with some open-endedness, when everything doesn’t end 100 per cent seamless, and there’s still some ambiguity left in the air. I want entertainment, romance and resolve, but with just a smidge of realism.

However, right now, I can’t get enough of perfect finishes. I want to know how things are going to end and I want it to be good. I want happy endings on top of happy endings where not only does the girl get the boy or girl but also the dream job, the house, the car and all her friendships dramas are resolved.

With the world shrouded in unknown answers, and my body tackling the anxiety that comes with that, I want a slice of knowing how it plays out – I’m finding just that in feel-good movies and TV shows that I’ve seen before.

Comfort in knowing how it ends

Instead of hunting for new shows to dive into, I’ve found myself gravitating towards trusted stories I know and love. The likes of New Girl, Younger, Parks and Rec, Notting Hill, Someone Great and The Proposal are all getting played on repeat. The sugary, cheesy goodness is just the antidote I need for not knowing when I’ll be able see my grandma or go to the pub again.

This is because there’s an element of comfort in watching something where you know the ending. You still get to go on the journey with the characters, feel their pain, watch their anguish, empathise with the pickle they’re in but all the while knowing how it ends.

As I press play on Jane the Virgin, I thank my lucky stars I haven’t been accidentally artificially inseminated while going in for a routine pap smear. *wipes sweat off brow*. Yet even as I sympathise with Jane’s situation and shake my head at the dilemmas in her life, I feel a bout of optimism and reassurance because I know how it’s going to shape up for her five seasons later – and it’s pretty darn good.

Rainbow after the storm

As someone with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, it’s hard to not spiral about the future. 2020 has been a pressure cooker of stress and unease, and not being able to see a clear light at the end of the tunnel has put a real strain on my mental health.

Yet, watching a beloved character’s life turn to shambles in the height of conflict – whether they’ve lost a job, been broken up with, have a loved one get sick, been confined to their home to hide from paparazzi or all of the above – and knowing they’ll find their way out of it with a big smile on their face, offers some hope that I’ll be OK too.

That we all will.

Another advantage to feel good sitcoms too is that debating with housemates about whether Ross and Rachel were truly on a break or not (technically yes but I mean c’mon Ross) offers a great distraction to the news cycle. There’s nothing quite like Nick Miller’s dancing to make you momentarily forget the last ‘breaking news’ notification.

All okay in the end

And yes, I’m aware that real life is nothing like the movies. But they still provide a respite in their parallel universes – ones where the raving lunatic doesn’t become President, and they find a vaccine just in time before the zombie attack.

Or more in my case, where the romantic leads get married, have babies and live happily ever after.

So while I don’t know what tomorrow’s case numbers will be or when I’ll be able to hug my parents again, I do know while rewatching The Good Place that in this world I’ve chosen to reside in temporarily, it all turns out okay in the end.

Better than okay, in fact.

Marnie Vinall is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram.