The Comfort of Scooby-Doo

How a cartoon helped me find comfort in an age of overwhelming news and technology

I view TV differently these days. As a kid, watching was a privilege — something I could do only once I finished my homework or ate my vegetables. Like many, I was told that TV was an activity that would hurt my well-being, not help it.

But as I’ve grown older and taken my wellness more seriously, I’ve found the contrary to be true.

As adults, we’re constantly making decisions. What job do we want? How should we spend our free time? How much money should we put into our 401(k)? What is a 401(k)? Why are we still single? Are they going to text us back? I’m stressed writing this.

Now, with the increased presence of social media, we’re exposed to even more information at a more rapid rate. We’re overwhelmed with more decisions. We compare ourselves to others with astonishing speed. We can be contacted at any moment in a number of ways. It’s an introvert’s worst nightmare. I’m that introvert. Please don’t snapchat me to make plans.

I know I’m not alone. We all yearn for the occasional break from the day-to-day responsibilities of being an adult. I’ve found that there’s no better way to take a break than by visiting the nostalgic, fictional world of Scooby-Doo.

As a visual person (and a writer who spends their days finding new ways to tell stories), I’m ecstatic when I find shows that captivate my attention. I’m fascinated by how characters are brought to life and why writers choose specific words or plot points.

What’s more, I’ve always viewed TV as a conversation starter, rather than something that replaces conversation. Throughout history, TV shows have often been pioneers when it comes to tackling complex or taboo subjects, spurring public conversation as a result.

But in the era of information, TV has done something more for me: It’s provided comfort. A brief escape. Much like getting on an airplane and putting your phone on airplane mode. “Sorry, can’t check my email right now!”

It turns out that Scooby-Doo, a 50-year-old cartoon, is an effective antidote to today’s chaotic reality.

There’s something comforting about watching others solve problems with no real-world consequences. There’s something refreshing about knowing that things will always work out, even in the most preposterous situations.

In Scooby-Doo, the gang is constantly exposed to monsters. In reality, we experience the same. The difference is that our monsters don’t always wear masks. They don’t just come out during full moons. And sadly, they’re not always caught.

In the real world, monsters often live without consequence. Often there’s no resolution — no “I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kids” moment.

Sometimes I wish the Scooby-Doo story structure applied to our world.

I wish good friends never lost touch. I wish the monsters were always caught. I wish I could wear the same outfit every day without anyone judging me.

Sure, I have some questions:

  • How does the gang pay for gas for the Mystery Machine?
  • Do they ever wash their clothes?
  • What do their parents think they’re doing all the time?
  • How do they have time to do homework?
  • Do they put this stuff on their resumes?

It’s not a perfect show, and the fact that it’s so detached from reality is what makes it all the more comforting.

I don’t dissect it as I do with other shows. I don’t look for gaps in the plot. I don’t try to compare myself to characters. I enjoy it purely for what it is: some friends and a dog solving mysteries.

We feel newfound pressure. I find that my days are increasingly filled with the responsibilities that I once took for granted. And all of this seems rather insignificant in comparison to what I see each day in the ebb and flow of a distressing news cycle. Still, while it may feel selfish complaining about our own problems, it’s important to take self-care seriously.

This isn’t about watching Scooby-Doo. It’s not even really about TV. It’s about reaching a point where it’s not necessarily about what seemingly stupid thing we do for comfort, just as long as we’re doing something. Aka let people enjoy their Pumpkin Spice Latte.

This year I started taking my wellness seriously. I exercise more. I’m on social media less. I still eat chips before bed (but I’m never changing that). And while I don’t think it’s productive to hide from reality for too long, sometimes I just need to put on sweatpants and watch some friends and a dog solve mysteries — hoping to return back to reality more energized, more optimistic. and more ready to unmask whichever monsters I’m facing that day.

Find Jon on Twitter at @savittj

Writer. Comedian | Funny or Die. College Humor. TIME. Washington Post. And more!

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