Why reboots?

Fuller House. Photo courtesy of whats-on-netflix.com
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For some time I’ve wondered why the TV and Film industries are rebooting old content. It’s certainly not new. The most recent version of The Mummy is actually a revamp in a series of reiterations dating back to the original 1939 screenplay by John L. Balderston. The list of film remakes is so long that Wikipedia has separated them into two lists—the information is too vast to fit on one web page.

There’s also a difference between a reboot and a remake. According to ABC News, “a remake is an older story line with fresher faces … a reboot can have familiar characters but a new story line.”  If a show or film franchise picks up sometime after where it left off, it’s a revival.

Most of the resurging content I’ve noticed falls into the reboot category. Fuller House stars a few old favourites, but mostly new characters with new adventures, making it a hybrid somewhere between reboot and revival.

Over the winter break the most successful reboot of all time, Jumanji: Into the Jungle, hit theatres. It paid homage to the late great Robin Williams while capturing an entirely new generation. I was nine when the first film came out. I remember being mesmerized and terrified as board game characters, obstacles, and villains came to life. I still have anxiety when I walk past the blackberry runners that stretch out over Nanaimo’s pathways—secretly afraid they will grab and crush me like the car-pulverizing Jumanji vines.

My theory about the popularity of reboots is the nostalgia factor. The world’s current social and political climate is rough to say the least. We’ve reached a highly polarized, information-saturated landmark where any shock value bad news can and will be shared. There are countless reports of violence, abuse, bigotry, racism, and seeming indifference from world leaders. I believe there’s a deep longing for simpler times, and as a result, a return to what was—entertainment wise.

Now that The Vampire Diaries is finished for good and subsequently the teen paranormal romance trend is fading into the background, audiences are craving stories that make them feel good. When was the last time I felt no anxiety? Or at least, way less anxiety? It was the 90s, before cell phones and internet. Those certainly aren’t the culprits, but they also don’t help.

As someone born in the 80s, raised in the 90s, and growing into a teen/adult in the 2000s, I too miss the good old days of Friends and Big Shiny Tunes 1, 2, and 3. This year I got one of my wishes through Will and Grace, who as a cast credited the election of the American President, he-who-shall-not-be-named, as a catalyst for their return.

Reboots and revivals are never the same. They ultimately fail to capture the magic of when they were brand-new. Unless you’re Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—for some reason he (and his production team, probably mostly his production team) seem to have cracked the code.