As I type this, I hear dramatic yelling and sound effects coming from the television in the living room, as my grandparents sit in front of it, transfixed. I hear several stereotypical and misogynistic comments. But nothing I say or do can change the fact that these soap operas are the ones with the highest TRP. But who are the target audience for these shows?
The ‘glorification of misery’ by Indian TV shows, as said by Yamuna Matheswaran is a well-known fact about its poor conflict resolution and billions of reaction shots to display shock and dismay to its audience. The lack of creativity and the heavy dependence on crime and depression is no longer interesting and is starting to get out of hand. It is neither believable nor relatable anymore.
Let’s take a typical Indian serial and break it down: hetero-couple not accepted by parents at first and after they elope, the man’s parents take them in, only for the man’s mother to despise her daughter-in-law for the rest of the show’s lifespan. This is the plot of every single Indian serial at one point or another.
These soaps have backward notions, showing women being forced into doing household labor and curbed from following their dreams (although this is still very true in some places of India). I feel that the reason people continue to watch these shows is because the protagonists eventually rise against these odds and end up doing as they please. But the insane number of obstacles that they have to overcome is where I begin to really question the toxicity of these shows.
Shows broadcasted on television are an important source of exposure to people who don’t belong to the tech-savvy generation. Gen-Y and Gen-Z are generally more accepting and have a broader perspective because of their access to the internet, which exposes them to different ideas. They are more open to the fact that all humans are the same regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality and any other typical ‘category’ they choose to be a part of. This is why it seems ridiculous to continue having such shows which still display such backward thinking. We need to popularize the idea of equality for all and acceptance, and that starts with what we watch on TV as a family.
In short, it is time we gradually start changing such ancient plots and start demanding shows with a more positive and progressive ring to them. The producers, writers and directors should start thinking out of the box and quit using these tested themes that millions of shows have already done. We need creative, entertaining, believable shows with real plots if we want to see progression within our society as a whole.