In Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai that streams on Starplus and Hulu (hotstar), a couple get married. Touted as the “ Indian Television’s largest ever wedding”, the writers created a vision. The fans are delirious with joy. Their happiness is, however, short lived. The need to send the rating scores up makes the story a convoluted plot of impossibles.

The couple are separated in the most bizarre manner where a Doctor, a person who needs to be calm and collected if he were a real docto,r in the face of deaths and disappointments, actually throws out of the house his wife, who purportedly just miscarried twins in an accident.

To add to the weird, the lady love finds her way to another city. Miraculously, one of the twins survived. How? It’s an Indian television medical miracle. As she realizes that her husband is a useless cringe, she decides that the first man who showed her compassion on the street must be someone she can trust and rely upon and makes that guy her husband of convenience.

So now they live their own separate lives where they are not aware of the truth. The tone-deaf family of the girl decides that the ex-wife will find immense joy in being a part of her ex-husband’s marriage to her own evil-but-whitewashed- in- saree half-sister. So here is the plot for a show that has prime time on Indian TV.  The ex-mother-in-law blames the woman for everything. In the daily soap of 21 minutes every day , we are subject to 15-20 minutes of her asinine delusionary screaming at a C-sharp squeal. Is this supposed to your dinner watch, India ?  World superpower?

This content airs everyday on streams and television without mental health trigger warnings.

Life threatening accidents have no cops turning up, divorces happen on demand, women lose their homes and dignity at the whims and fancies of the writers. Indian viewers seem to enjoy mindless, demeaning to women plots in the name of entertainment.

The country that went up in arms when Kabir Singh plot was declared sexist, consumes more toxic television at home every day. Ad infinitum, Ad Nauseum.

Most Indian Television shows have similar plots of man-eating women delusionally chasing unavailable men. Do the writers and makers not know normal women?

Ekta Kapoor serials are an expert in this art of sisters competing for the same man. Not only that, the man will probably be ugly AF but the evil sister will collude, conjure outlandish situations, even commit murder – but gets away every time- till the writer finds a way to redeem her character in a saree.

Kundali Bhagya has generation upon generation of evil sister stories. What happened to normal women? Evil mothers-in-law were falling short.

What happens with the mother of the boy does not like the girl he is in love with – is a long surviving plot. In Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyar ke, the mother-in-law plotted, and re-plotted so her son remains heartbroken.

In another story by the same makers, Woh Toh Hai Albela, a sister kills her older sister by pushing her into a ravine because she was not getting enough attention in the joint family they both were married into.

Indian serial women are careerless, they only plot and literally have no aim life except the acquisition of the attention of the men.

Anupama, the most watched Indian show, does not cease to horrify. In the name of sanskaar, the women spiels off 300 pages of discourse every day, yet does not know how to lay boundaries with her ex-in laws. She is the epitome of how women should behave. Stay unfocused, compromise on your career and make sure everyone around you is happier than you are. Threads of women empowerment are added to display a very convoluted view of women equality. The typical mother character is supposed to be nice, warm, all-forgiving with no self-respect in the name of love for her family. The woman who stands up for herself and makes sure she is not cheated of her rights is the bad one.

In Hindi soaps, even when the plot starts with them having careers, they get married into palatial homes with huge families but they are supposed to be part-time housekeepers of their new homes. The servants disappear, the love of the shows to depict a woman in kitchen is so great that they cannot seem to write plots that can imagine women in other places. Meet, a show on Zee Tv started with aspirations of her being a cop. She did become one but then suddenly turned singer after getting married and the plot was lost.

Indian television has degraded the depiction of women to the extent that if a devout serial watcher catches a woman wearing a stylish saree, they will equate those women to Naagins.

The caricature of evil v good does not end here. There are aunties that have verbal diarrhea. That is another class of women who just want to stir up trouble. Both chachis in Yeh Rishta and Ghum are epic rot. Why are these characters not men? Because men are busy at work and only women have the time for activities like this.

In mainstream Korean, Chinese or any South Asian dramas, there are threads where even evil people find their proper way to redemption – but in Hindi serials, the evil characters are whitewashed.

Welcome to a culture that celebrates evil because “kuch bhi chalta hai”. The premise that a lot of avid fans of Hindi fare will give you is that – “hey its ITV and don’t take it seriously – watch it for fun.”
The cost of watching stories and characters like this is immense., It is an industry hell bent on normalizing women as people of low dignity, with time to indulge in nefarious activities and literally second grade citizens. And there is no content warning for any of these shows.

The ones responsible for decades of third rate content is not only the people who make it, but people like us who consume it, the advertisers who have no real interest in the content they promote as long as it is plastered with their brand and the entire ecosystem that depends on television rating as a method for content acceptability.

Will you stop patronizing shows that degrade women, or will you be a cog in this wheel of degradation of women on screen?

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