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Why did the television reboot become all the rage?

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Designer Yves Saint Laurent once said, “Fashions fade, style is eternal.”

The same could be said for television: When a popular show concludes, it lives on in syndication and Blu-ray. But recently, TV immortality has assumed a new form. Networks and streaming services are increasingly pulling from the past to flood the airwaves with reboots and remakes.

Before Roseanne Barr’s racist tweets led to the cancellation of her show, the reboot of “Roseanne” was one of ABC’s most popular programs. Last year, “Will & Grace” returned in 2017 to impressive ratings, while “Full House” reappeared on Netflix as “Fuller House” in 2016.

We’ve also seen reboots and remakes of “The X-Files,” “Twin Peaks” and “Arrested Development,” along with remakes of “Dynasty” and “Lost in Space.”

This upcoming fall season, a reboot of “Murphy Brown” and remakes of “Cagney & Lacey,” “Magnum P.I.” and “Charmed” are set to premiere.

Nostalgia has always sold. But changes to today’s television landscape have created the perfect conditions for the reboot to thrive.

The allure of comfort

At a practical level, reboots make sense.

When a fan of the original “The X-Files” tunes in for the reboot, they’re mostly familiar with the characters’ nuanced histories. For this reason, the show’s writers don’t need to lay as much groundwork. The skeleton’s already in place, and they can pick up where the characters left off and write new storylines.

But for audiences, there’s something deeper at play: nostalgia and the comfort of what’s familiar.


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