Reboot, Reuse, Recycle: Why Networks Keep Rebooting Popular TV Shows

Full House has held a special place in my heart since I was six. I was a pioneer binge watcher. I begged my mom to let me stay up and watch late night reruns. Pretty quickly, I became the owner of all eight seasons on DVD.


In 2015, when Netflix announced it was going to produce a Full House reboot called Fuller House, the little kid in me came out. I was ecstatic that all my favorite characters were going to be on the small screen again.


Full House is not the only fan-favorite show that has come back. In the past five years or so, an increasing number of canceled or ended television shows have come back, or have been "rebooted."


Television networks, whether the same or different from that of the original show, are either picking up where a television series left off or putting a new spin on a show that has already been done. Will & Grace, Gilmore Girls, Arrested Development and Roseanne are just a few of the once-successful shows that have recently made a reappearance.


Society's reboot obsession correlates strongly with growing disinterest towards new television shows, according to The New York Post. The number of original shows that are renewed after the TV season seems to shrink every year, while the number of rebooted shows tends to grow.


Nostalgia is a current cultural trend, and it shows in TV ratings: re-runs are watched more than new episodes. People want to blanket themselves in familiarity and comfort. Despite how captivating and potentially successful a new show may seem to its writers before airing, people would rather see old, familiar shows than explore new options.


Another reason rebooting television shows has become a more frequent occurrence is the range of possibilities that come with streaming networks like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon expanding into creating shows, too.


Netflix is responsible for at least 12 show reboots since the early 2010s. The increasing popularity of streaming networks brings in more revenue with which the networks can use to create more shows. Streaming networks are capitalizing on their popularity by listening to what society wants, and what society wants is nostalgia. 


Interestingly, despite the constant demand for show reboots, they are rarely successful. No matter how hard writers try, it is impossible to conjure up the same feeling of a show when the actors are all ten to twenty years older than when they were on the original.


The political and social climate of the world is entirely different than it was several years ago, too. It is hard to recreate something successfully when the real world context is entirely different. 


This does not keep them from making profit, though. According to Hollywood Reporter, people will do almost anything to see reboots because they have an image of what it will be like in their heads- they just usually end up disappointed. The anticipation and build-up of reboots is the most successful part the majority of the time.


As society's fixation on nostalgia continues, the world will likely continue to see old shows making a comeback. 2018 already has 53 reboots scheduled. Though most of these are movies, the idea is still present: networks will continue to make reboots as long as they generate revenue and interest consumers.