The revival of the breakthrough 1988-98 series starring Candice Bergen as a famous cable news anchor is part of a larger nostalgia-driven trend that sets up high expectations.
“Murphy Brown” is back.
The breakthrough CBS series starring Candice Bergen as an investigative journalist and cable news anchor will return with a 13-episode stories for the show’s 30th anniversary later this year, as part of the 2018-2019 season, Deadline reported.
Bergen and the show’s creator Diane English will both return, and the show is rumored to take on the new political climate fraught with accusations of “fake news.” When we last saw Brown in the two-part series finale in 1998, after the show had run for 10 years and scored 18 Emmys, Brown was considering retirement after battling breast cancer.
This is just the latest in a series of movies, television shows, video games and other products that have gotten a new license on life, such as NBC bringing back “WIll & Grace” and ABC rebooting “Roseanne.”
“She-Ra,” the 1985 cult cartoon classic starring He-Man’s sister, is being rebooted by Netflix this year.
The streaming service revealed last month that it’s teaming up with DreamWorks Animation Television to release six new animated series in 2018, including a modern take on the fantasy heroine that became a girl power icon in the ‘80s. “She-Ra: The Princess of Power” followed Princess Adora, the female counterpart to Prince Adam/He-Man (her long-lost twin brother), who also transforms into a super warrior by holding aloft her magic sword.
The “Most Powerful Woman in the Universe” starred in 93 episodes, as well as a Christmas special, and sold roughly $60 million worth of toys and merchandise in 1985 alone.
“Titanic,” the second-highest grossing film in history, sailed back into dozens of AMC movie theaters nationwide for a limited one-week run on Dec. 1. The relaunch of the film that had already grossed more than $2.18 billion worldwide came as the 1997 movie starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio celebrated its 20th anniversary.
The live-action Disney reboot of “Beauty and the Beast” bagged more than $1.26 billion at box offices in 2017, becoming the 10th highest-grossing film ever. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” released in 2015, made more than $930 million domestically in its first 16 weeks in the theater — the most money a movie has ever made in the U.S. and Canada. Its sequel, “The Last Jedi,” opened in theaters last month and delivered the second-largest opening of all time with $220 million domestically. It topped $1 billion worldwide this month.
Other recent reboots that were also likely hits for the companies that made them, include the classic Nintendo NES Classic Edition, which sold out in almost every brick-and-mortar retailer during the 2016 holiday season — and commanded online prices that were triple or more the $60 asking price. Plus, soda reboots — recent examples include Coke Surge and Crystal Pepsi — also typically sell well, says Matthew Barry, beverages analyst at market research group Euromonitor — though exact figures typically for the most recent ones aren’t always publicly released.
Why consumers are gaga for product reboots
In today’s high-tech, fast-paced world, consumers feel like they can’t keep up-to-date all the new options and changes be they technological, entertainment or otherwise. “We’re living in a time of rapid change — people feel like they don’t have power in preventing or dealing with this change,” says Brittany Chozinski, an assistant professor of sociology at Northeast Lakeview College in San Antonio, who studies nostalgia. “They’re trying to find an anchoring point, to slow down.” And nostalgic products seem like they can do this, as people often see them — rightly or wrongly — as things from a simpler time, she says.
Plus, studies show that experiencing nostalgic memories helps us feel more socially connected — a compelling prospect today because research shows that many of us are profoundly lonely. Indeed, Americans today have fewer close friends — people they can discuss important issues with — than in the past: They have an average of two, down from three just 25 years ago, according to research from sociology professor Matthew Brashears, who now works at the University of South Carolina; and roughly one in four people says they have no one with whom they can discuss important issues with.
What this does to your bottom line
When we’re feeling nostalgic, we spend more, a series of six experiments, published in the Journal of Consumer Research in 2014, found. In one study, the experimenters showed participants two advertisements — one that made them feel nostalgic for the past and another that encouraged them to look toward the future. They were then asked how much they would spend on two nostalgic-related items — a bottle of Coca-Cola and a flip video camera. Those that saw the nostalgic advertisement spent roughly 40% more than those who didn’t. “Feelings of nostalgia make us spend more,” says Jannine Lasaleta, an assistant professor of marketing at Grenoble École de Management in France.
How we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment
Plenty of critics wrote that the “Gilmore Girls” NFLX, +1.82% reboot was very good: Julia Felsenthal, called it “kind of brilliant” in Vogue, and others had nice things to say as well. But many fans felt, well, disappointed. That’s to be expected, says Chozinski. Memories of the past are often idealized and sanitized, so we are “setting ourselves up for disappointment” when we buy nostalgic products hoping to get back that feeling, she says. “At best it’s escapism” says Chozinski. “It’s temporary.” After we consume the item, we’re right back to searching for whatever it is we were searching for when we bought the item.
Why we can’t quit the search for nostalgia
We’ll pay a lot to get a nostalgic item, but its results are only temporary and it’s often a disappointment. Still, we still often can’t stop ourselves from going back for another nostalgic item. “The temptation of going back is so alluring that we are willing to do it.” Chozinski says. “Part of us knows we can never return to the past…but we still want it.” She’s not immune to it herself: “I’m excited about the new ‘Twin Peaks,’ but I know it won’t live up to my expectations.”
A version of this story was originally published on January 20, 2017, by MarketWatch. It has since been updated on Jan. 25, 2018, for Moneyish.
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