As viewers we all have a list of TV shows and films we never want to part with due to the childhood nostalgia linked to them (The Lion King, Cinderella), the comfort of knowing what is going to happen or simply because they make us feel good (Friends, The Office, The Gilmore Girls).
However, only some shows manage to dominate screen time long after their original releases and end up aggregating loyal fan bases (one of the main reasons for spinoffs). For instance, according to The Insider, Friends dominated the rankings of the most popular shows of 2018, even though the last episode aired in 2004. Similarly, local favourites like Humsafar and Zindagi Gulzar Hai which aired their last episodes in 2011 and 2012, respectively, are still garnering plenty of Netflix views. So, what exactly is it that keeps viewers hooked for so long?
• High-Level Entertainment: Shows that remain popular enjoyed very high levels of viewership during their release. Take The Office, which started off with 11 million viewers during its debut, according to E! Viewers found the “mockumentary” format (fictional stories presented as comical documentaries) entertaining and it continues to remain popular years later. The Gilmore Girls was a huge hit given its unique storyline and sense of humour. According to Business Insider, the show was so popular during its release that it garnered a whooping five million views on Netflix in 2016. Humsafar was so successful during its release that it was aired on various international channels in the following years.
• Well-Executed Production: From The Rembrandts’ hit title song 'I’ll be There For You' to the orange couch, to Central Perk, Friends had all the elements of a strong production, which fans found extremely memorable. In fact, the orange couch is a part of the Warner Bros Studio Tour and fans line up just to sit on it - and some have even proposed on it. Hence, set production plays a vital role. Even Frasier, which showcased the characters’ upscale life in a Seattle apartment, along with Eddie the dog (whose antics were woven into the script), had an infamous radio station set where Frasier worked. Similarly, the quaint and cozy town of Stars Hollow in The Gilmore Girls was one that viewers grew attached to.
• Feel-Good Content: One of the reasons why people still watch The Golden Girls is because the humour and the social issues in the sitcom are still relatable today. The characters make the show a classic and even Millennials find themselves relating to their quirky personalities, despite the fact that they were not even born when the show was released. Fans admit to the fact that sitcoms like these are ‘feel-good’ shows and are still entertaining and make them feel better after watching them.
• One Of A Kind: Shows that manage to retain their audience long after their releases are usually highly innovative. Breaking Bad is extremely popular on Netflix due to its ground-breaking storyline that no other show had explored before. Seinfeld is still watched because of its distinct quality of lightness that the creators managed to employ so effectively.
Sana Ahmad Safdar is a graduate in Communication, Culture and Information Technology, and a writer.