What’s With Our Need For Nostalgia?

I grew up during Disney Channel’s golden era — you know exactly what I’m talking about. It was the when Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOMs) were at their prime and peak Disney TV starring the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, the Sprouse twins, and more. In hindsight, it was wild. There has never been such a hotbed for stardom since Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera were all on the Mickey Mouse Club.

And, yes, as I continue growing up I miss having these lighthearted shows and movies to watch. Every so often, my roommates and I will binge Disney movies like High School Musical or classics like The Princess Diaries. But lately, there’s been a shift.

Has anyone noticed that we as a society are lacking a little…creativity? I mean, sure, it’s completely normal to crave a little dose of your childhood here and there — who isn’t comforted by memories of your life before you had an overwhelming sense of anxiety. But I almost feel as though we’ve gotten too comfortable with bringing back the old.

Some of the nostalgia-inducing events are exciting. Think: the fervor for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour or The Jonas Brothers’ The Tour, where they play all of their old songs spanning their entire career. It’s exciting and it’s a good way to get fans of old and new in the room.

We’re also in an era of reboots galore. Take a short glance at any of your streaming platforms and you’ll see a lot of familiar titles. Former early 2000s favorites like Zoey 101, iCarly, and That’s So Raven are finding themselves back on our television screens. And if you think that’s all…oh, boy.

Some reboots are reimaginations of the show…like Gossip Girl with a new cast and fresh, young faces. While others are continuations of the show just in the future - think iCarly and Zoey 101 (the reboot being Zoey 102).

And then, there’s Disney.

Disney is constantly trying to get the older generations into theaters, not only with Marvel, but with live action remakes of our favorite films. Over the past decade, we’ve seen versions of Aladdin, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and most recently, The Little Mermaid. And while I surely will watch out of curiosity and lack of alternatives, I’m always left feeling a little underwhelmed.

Nostalgia-core is literally everywhere. It’s in the way we dress, with Y2K trends consistently leading the pack. People are preferring jelly shoes and mini skirts over any other decades-inspired trend. But when do we border the line between nostalgia and overdoing something?

Maybe it’s because we went through a global pandemic for so many years, we are craving stability and childhood…going back to our roots and finding comfort in what we know after a lot of uncertainty. Watching reboots of your fave show or movie can feel like the adult version of a pacifier.

Or maybe it’s because we have completely lost identity in today’s society…where we can’t thrive on anything but the past. Unoriginal ideas cycling back into the trendscape just because we can’t think of anything new.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. If something is getting those viewers in and bringing in the money, why wouldn’t they keep rebooting shows? Why wouldn’t Disney just make live action versions of their entire filmography? That way, they can release one original and make it really amazing in the interim.

One thing I know for sure is that trends recycle all the time. There was a time not so long ago where anything low-rise was considered a fashion crime and you wouldn’t dare wear Crocs out of your house unironically. But in the early 2000s, and subsequently in 2023, you would be considered right on trend.

And while the Disney films will always be successful in some capacity, I don’t know if every show needs a reboot. Some shows ended where they ended, and that’s how it should stay. Honestly, I feel like I’m getting bored too easily, I already know the plotline of everything coming out!

With popular shows like Succession and Ted Lasso in their final episodes forever, we are met with the realization that we will soon run out of original content if we keep rebooting everything. And yes, I get that a reboot is still somehow original if it’s a continuation of the series…you know that’s not my point here.

So, I’m left with the question: when is it time to let the past be….the past?

More from Trueself