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Don’t Feel Ashamed of Your Streaming History When You Look Back on 2020

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Ohhhh 2020, how we look forward to bidding you adieu. While I’m sure we would all love to just completely forget this year and leave it in our dust, it’s human nature to want to reflect on the year past as we move into a new one, and we can’t do that without remembering all of the shows and movies we watched. Mostly just because, with the coronavirus pandemic shutting down most of our recreational or group activities, all we really could do this year was stream things from home. And boy, did we.

From Tiger King to Emily in Paris, there are some things we’ve binged and become enamored with that maybe we’d find embarrassing any other time, but in 2020 it just makes sense and isn’t something to be ashamed of. This year, a lot of people got back into watching cartoons and anime almost as a nostalgic blanket or coping mechanism and, you know what? There are worse ways to cope.

Lily Collin taking a selfie in Emily in Paris
Photo: Netflix

Shows and movies have become a uniting factor for everyone in a time when world events and diseases seem destined to tear us all apart. Maybe you started watching Cobra Kai and were embarrassed about it, until you realized that it kind of blew up this year and tons of people are into it, too. So, you can tell your friends without (much) shame, yeah, I’m really into this Karate Kid spin-off series that started on YouTube, and you should be watching it too (seriously, people, it’s worth the hype).

While a lot of us may be watching these things alone in a room, we become a part of a community again by talking about the titles after with friends who have also watched it, or we get recommendations from them and then watch and share our own opinion because what else do we have going on, anyway? And between Zoom and various add-ons and applications that allow groups to stream the same thing simultaneously and communicate about it on the side, widening the net of what we watch to include titles that would usually embarrass us is actually just helping to bring us all together.

Maya and Anna in a t-shirt
Photo: Hulu

In talking to my friends about what they’re watching, I’ve found it so interesting and surprising, not just the breadth and variety of what they’ve been watching, but also that we’ve all been so willing to take each other’s recommendations and actually check them out. Even within my own family, we trade titles and have bonded over everything from PEN15 to Normal People to Avatar: The Last Airbender. And even more incredible is how people are more willing to admit to what they’re watching. I think that as we grow more and more desperate for the human connection we’ve been lacking, we become less likely to hide behind ironic detachment or attempts seem cool. There is no room for coolness in 2020.

It’s been refreshing to hear everyone from friends to celebrities be honest and admit it when they’re not doing too well, and then have that mental state be reflected in their streaming history. For me, this has been evoked through my return to anime, something I was really into growing up and thought I left behind in high school, but never would admit to watching. And now here I am, not only dipping back into shows like Naruto and Haikyuu and taking recs to check out new ones like Jujutsu Kaisen, but also admitting in print that I like and watch it. And at this point, it’s like, sure I’m still kind of embarrassed, but we’re all in the same boat here so why not all be embarrassed together.

Photo: Netflix

This year, I’ve known people who have torn through all 15 seasons on Criminal Minds in a matter of a few weeks, people who have become addicted to everything from competition shows like The Great British Baking Show to docu-series like The Comedy Store. People are seriously out there everyday thinking to themselves, “Hey, maybe I should start watching Grey’s Anatomy.” AND IN 2020! HOW INSANE IS THAT?! It’s a 17 season show that is STILL rolling out new episodes. And yet now is apparently the best time to get into it because why the heck not? And that “why not” has probably been the driving force behind most of our streaming choices this year.

Alex Trebek hosts Jeopardy on Cheers
Photo: Hulu

Also, just a quick reminder that The Last DanceLove is BlindEurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire SagaPalm SpringsMa Rainey’s Black Bottom and more all happened in the same dang year. 2020 has been a rollercoaster and so we all definitely get a free pass to watch whatever offers an escape or a little bit of joy through all of the loops we’re thrown for. It’s okay that you rewatched The Office three times, binged Community, unironically loved Riverdale, waited all year for season four of Attack on Titan, and streamed every available episode of Jeopardy! even though you’d already seen some of them before. Whether it’s with cartoons, old sitcoms, or nature documentaries, this year has been all about watching things that offer nostalgia, an escape, and a way to kill time.

No matter what you watched in 2020, you shouldn’t feel bad about it, especially if it made you happy or gave you something to talk about with family and friends. Admitting to watching the things that in other years may have embarrassed us is only going to bring us closer together, so as we go forth into 2021, remember that there’s no reason to stop watching the things we’ve been streaming all year long or feel shame for doing it!

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