Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer


Twentysomethings are watching what their parents watched in college

Photo credit: Pixabay

Long-running television shows continue to attract college audiences

The Simpsons has been renewed for seasons 35 and 36 on FOX.

Law & Order: SVU is currently in its 24th season on NBC.

General Hospital is currently in its 60th season on ABC.

And a now old-time television favorite, Friends, is one of the most streamed series on HBO MAX. For 10 seasons, the original run of the hit NBC sitcom became a crown jewel for their “Must-See TV” lineup, attracting over 30 million viewers in its second season.

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The fact is that shows wildly popular to college audiences of the 1990s, and the 2000s are now popular to their children. Twentysomethings, and even those who are about to reach their 20s, are still watching these beloved shows, whether on the network or via streaming. But what attracts the college young adults of today to shows that were brand-new to their parents from “back in the day”?

I reached out to David James, a Twitter user in his mid-20s, for this article. He talked about his attraction to now-older shows that his father loved watching. He commented on the hit primetime soap opera Dallas, which ran for 14 seasons on CBS (1978 – 1991) and then had a reboot on TNT from 2012 – 2014, along with three television movies. When I spoke with James and asked him what attracted him to such an old series, he immediately brought up the famous cliffhanger of “Who Shot J.R.?” James said, “viewing that watercooler moment play out was different because I got to play the next episode, and viewers globally had to wait months and were making bets, trying to predict who did it. That’s the thing about the bingeing versus weekly model. It has that different effect of viewing.”

It shows that anyone can fall in love with a juicy drama, no matter the decade. Twitter user @soapsmania, who is 19, has also gotten addicted to soapy drama. The Young and the Restless is now in its 50th season on CBS, and this Twitter user, also known as Kate, loves the daily sudser. When I reached out for comment, she stated, “I’ve been watching Y&R (an acronym for the beloved series) ever since I can remember. My mom has watched Y&R for many years. It was kind of a routine after school during supper. She would put it on, and I would watch it as I ate supper every day. As the years went by, the more I enjoyed the show.”

But drama isn’t the only thing grabbing the attention of television watchers at the college level nowadays. In a recent Nielsen Ratings report published by TVSeriesFinale, The Simpsons attracted 3.13 million viewers the week of Dec. 11, 2022, and attracted 900,000 viewers in the television demographic of 18-49-year-olds. This shows that the FOX adult animated program is still a fan-favorite among the youngest of adult ages. And even as of Jan. 27, 2023, The Simpsons was the sixth most streamed series on Disney+, showing that a fan favorite never goes out of style.

Whether it’s a soap opera, an adult animated sitcom, or even a series that is still attracting millions, like Law & Order: SVU, everyone loves a good story. Stories are what bring us together around the television set, a laptop, or even a smartphone.

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