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How the pandemic has sparked wave of cultural reflection – and why nostalgia is back in fashion

The pandemic has sparked a wave of cultural reflection for what feels like simpler times. But if we remove our rose-tinted glasses, what are the benefits of escaping our present to relive the past?

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The sitcom Friends has enjoyed a boost in viewing figures since the pandemic started

The sitcom Friends has enjoyed a boost in viewing figures since the pandemic started

A Tanora advert from December 1980, taken from the Brand New Retro website

A Tanora advert from December 1980, taken from the Brand New Retro website

RTÉ’s revival of The Den with Ray D'Arcy and Zig and Zag was as much about using nostalgia to lift the spirits of the now-adult children of the 1980s and 90s as it was entertaining their offspring.

RTÉ’s revival of The Den with Ray D'Arcy and Zig and Zag was as much about using nostalgia to lift the spirits of the now-adult children of the 1980s and 90s as it was entertaining their offspring.

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The sitcom Friends has enjoyed a boost in viewing figures since the pandemic started

From baking banana bread to table quizzes over Zoom to perfecting the latest TikTok dance craze, people found myriad ways to entertain themselves during multiple lockdowns. While there has certainly been a demand for newfangled distractions, many of us have taken the edge off our difficult present by looking to the past.

From the outset, the pandemic prompted audiences to return to what feels like simpler times. In 2020, Spotify reported a 54pc increase in users making throwback playlists, while in 2021 the analytics company Nielsen reported a jump in the consumption of classic sitcoms like Friends. RTÉ’s revival of much-loved kid’s programme The Den last November was as much about using nostalgia to lift the spirits of the now-adult children of the 1980s and 90s as it was entertaining their offspring.


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