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At the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, students were sent home with the notion that in two weeks we would be back on campus and everything would be fine again. Few people prepared for the possibility of a long-term shutdown and the many ways the coronavirus would wreak havoc in the U.S. I saw the opportunity of working from home for two weeks as a chance to work my way through my watchlist and take advantage of all the free weeks I was going to have. During those first few days, I watched a different movie every night while taking breaks to work my way through the tv series Succession. I only made minor progress on my watchlist before everything changed. In New York, the threat of the coronavirus escalated early on when mask mandates and nonessential businesses closed indefinitely. My plan to consume new media suddenly became less appealing, and the COVID-19 pandemic very quickly became a terrifying threat with little information surrounding it. The idea of sitting to watch a new film or show was off-putting. Like many people, I turned to movies I had already seen – especially ones from my childhood – and indulged in the act of comfort watching. 

Comfort watching offers people the chance to escape from their current realities for a brief time through a familiar and predictable medium. This was especially necessary during the early stages of the pandemic when the uncertainty of the coronavirus led to widespread anxiety, tension, and stress in people. Our lives were changed so drastically in such a small period of time it only seems natural that many people would gravitate to finding comfort in things they’re already familiar with. I repeatedly rewatched films like Pride and Prejudice and Legally Blonde. I took my time with every episode of The Great British Bake Off series. Even now– over a year into the pandemic– I still find it more appealing to watch shows I’m familiar with than with new stuff. New films and shows can’t be trusted the way my comfort list can be. While everyone’s lists are curated to their own taste, it seems common that films and series with resolved conflicts, a happy ending, and many likable characters offer the most comfort. Understandably we’ll want to engage with content that will make us feel good. 

Even now, over a year into the pandemic, I still find myself uninterested in watching shows or films I haven’t seen before. They’re just not as appealing as watching something that is guaranteed to make me feel good. For anyone feeling the same gravitation towards comforting films, below are five films worth adding to your comfort-watch list if they aren’t already there!

Mamma Mia! (2008)

The film is based on the Broadway musical of the same name and follows Sophie as she journeys to discover the identity of her biological father days before her wedding. The romantic plot is driven by iconic ABBA songs, a star cast, and according to my friends, it’s the mac n cheese of comfort cinema. 

Freaky Friday (2003)

Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsey Lohan, this film sees a mother and daughter switching bodies for a day. It’s built on hilarious scenes and overall its a heartwarming film. 

Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

This animated film sees a young witch navigating through difficult times as she lives far away from her home. The film is built on moments of kindness which make it so wholesome and perfect for escaping reality. 

Emma (2020)

Based on the novel of the same name by Jane Austen, the film stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma, who is a young girl intervening in the lives of her friends and family as a matchmaker. The film is layered with drama, desire, and gorgeous costumes.

Ratatouille (2007)

This Pixar film is about a rat who moves to Paris to pursue his dream of working as a chef. The film is based on the concept of food itself as comforting because it's the baseline for so many of our memories.


Sharon Egan

Manhattan '22

Sharon is a junior at Manhattan College currently pursuing an English degree. She loves traveling, reading, and running.
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