Lights! Camera! Comfort!

The importance of comfort films and shows in Paly students’ lives

With the seemingly infinite possibilities of movies and shows to watch, it sometimes feels impossible to find something worthwhile. Comfort films and shows help us out when we are looking for a familiar friend to comfort us in hard times or when we don’t know what to watch.

The complex plots and overwhelming action in many new films and shows may make it hard to relax. However, comfort movies seek to soothe. The familiarity and memories associated with comfort films and shows make them perfect when a break is needed. “People choose [comfort films and shows] because they know what they’re going to get and they know they’re going to like it,” Paly junior Miya Whiteley said. “[They] have sentimental value and make you feel good.”

People choose [comfort films and shows] because they know what they’re going to get and they know they’re going to like it.”

— Miya Whiteley, junior

Sentimentality is what makes Whiteley’s comfort film “Ocean’s Eight” comforting. Whiteley loves heist movies, especially the Ocean’s franchise (“Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve,” and “Ocean’s Thirteen”). “Ocean’s Eight” follows Debbie Ocean, sister of Danny Ocean from the “Ocean’s” series, as she plans to steal a priceless diamond necklace at the world’s biggest event in fashion, the Met Gala. She assembles a team of women with different specialties, and they work together to pull off the heist.

 The memories Whiteley made watching the series with her dad made her want to watch the new installment. “Ocean’s Eight” was released on Whiteley’s birthday, so every time she watches it she remembers her birthday. “It just added to the whole impact it had on me,” Whiteley said.

For Whiteley, the all-female cast and the complex characters they play sets the movie apart from its predecessors. “Seeing women take on those powerful roles was very empowering and really cool to see on screen,” Whiteley said.

I kind of forget what happens so I can watch it again and again and [be] surprised.”

— Mads Ernst, junior

For Paly junior Mads Ernst, every time she watches “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” feels like the first. Her comfort film, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” is a coming-of-age movie depicting Charlie, a freshman in high school, as he learns to make friends and works through his PTSD. Ernst feels especially connected to the characters, making it the perfect comfort movie. “I kind of forget what happens so I can watch it again and again and [be] surprised,” Ernst said. 

Ernst’s comfort show, “Psych,” has influenced her sense of humor because of how often she has watched it. “I just keep watching it so that I can renew my comedic style,” Ernst said. “Psych” is a detective comedy show that follows a crime consultant with a photographic memory that allows him to convince people he has psychic powers.

Paly sophomore Rachel Ho’s comfort film “Legally Blonde” empowers her when things are tough. “Legally Blonde” stars Elle, a fashion graduate, as she attempts to woo her ex-boyfriend by studying at Harvard Law School. At first, Elle is overwhelmed by the male-dominated scene. However, as she learns to navigate the world of law through her confidence and resilience,  Elle becomes a force to be reckoned with. “I feel like I can do whatever I put my mind to,” Ho said. “It’s really inspiring how [Elle] didn’t listen to any of [her critics] and continued to do what she believed she could do.”

After I watch [‘Legally Blonde’], I feel like I can do whatever I put my mind to.”

— Rachel Ho, sophomore

Comfort films and shows can provide positive role models to aspire to. Rewatching “Legally Blonde” has helped Ho identify a characteristic she admires about the main character, Elle, and has inspired her to make changes in her own life. “I think I listen a lot to external opinions, but I like Elle because she’s so headstrong and because she believes so strongly in her own self,” Ho said. 

Why might someone choose to repeatedly rewatch something? Ho says the nostalgic and sentimental feelings it creates makes it special. “I think a comfort movie is a movie that makes you feel better about whatever situation has been getting you down,” Ho said. “After I watch [‘Legally Blonde’], I feel like I can do whatever I put my mind to, even [if] people tell me otherwise.”

• Art by Audrey Guo