Youngsters are shifting from the tedious and mediocre shows dished out by Indian television, to fresh and seasonal American series, accessible in a breeze after the advent of broadband. This has led to the generation of “couch potatoes”, who were earlier possessive about remote controls, evolving into “mouse potatoes” that are glued to their headphones.
According to Aakifa Tohar, an engineering student and a self-proclaimed internet addict in Hyderabad, even though most of the Indian shows are premiered as family dramas, they generally fall back to the same track showcasing large families living together in huge mansions, harbouring trivial vengeance and hatching conspiracies against each other. “The latest one to be added to the list is ‘Housewife hai’ on Zee TV. After the first promo, the audience looked forward to the serial, thinking it would present housewives in a new perspective. But all it shows is sisters-in-law trying to undermine each other.
These kinds of programmes, in turn, repulse the youth. On the other hand, ‘Modern Family’ is a representation of families dealing with pragmatic issues like finance, adolescence etc. There is something to learn from every episode,” she adds. Discussing the portrayal of women in Indian serials, Shaad Nawaz, a young feminist, opines that they are restricted to two extremities; women are either meek, nodding to every command spelt out by their husbands, or are annoyingly audacious. Instead, she prefers “Grey’s Anatomy” in which the protagonist is an independent and rational woman tackling professional and relationship problems without being caked in gaudy makeup and jewellery.
Mujtaba Hussain, an entrepreneur, says, “The trends and ideologies of people have undergone immense transformation due to globalisation. Unfortunately, our shows fall short in reflecting them. However, ‘Friends’, which ran for ten seasons, consistently adapted itself with changing fashion, lingo and mindset of the public.” A lot of youngsters agree that if it wasn’t for ‘Friends’, then cafes would not be as ‘cool’ as they are today.
“Of the sitcoms, my favourite is ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’, since it is not only realistic, but also tangible with every age group. Although Indian serials also attempt comedy, most of them fail miserably. They assume that a person slipping on a banana peel will amuse us. The only good Indian sitcoms were “Sarabhai vs Sarabhai” on Star One, “Khichdi” on Star Plus and “Dekh bhai Dekh” on Doordarshan,” believes Ashutosh Hiremath, an avid lover of comedy shows.
And if the existing exaggerated shows are not enough, there has been a spate of rehashes from American series, which just do not know how to strike a balance between Indian sensibilities and modernity. To mention a few are ‘Jeannie Aur Juju’ (I Dream of Jeanie), ‘Best Friends Forever’ (Pretty Little Liars) and ‘Pyaar Ki Ek Kahaani’ (Vampire Diaries). Instead of stale concepts and disappointing remakes, what today’s generation needs are programmes, which are not only innovative but also realistic.