Flash, Flash, Flash. Various screens show the face of the actor. A woman crying in the corner while another loves the visual of her crying. The editor looks at all of these different shots and lets out a satisfied grin. How long do these shows want to turn women against one another?

The most popular shows like Saath Nibhana Saathiyayeh Rishta kya kehlatha hain, and many more, all have the consistent theme of showing two kinds of women as the two opposite poles. One is the good and sanskari while the other is evil with no sanskar who has unexplainable hate towards the good one. The oddly bitter part of this is how people find it entertaining and cuss the vamp for torturing the protagonist! It serves them so much entertainment that shows like these have managed to run for years – solely owing to the drama between these women that sometimes goes up to the extent of murder(What in the world?!).

Why does no one seem to ask why the vamp hates the protagonist? There are three main reasons that I’ve observed:

  1. She has a rich family
  2. She has the man
  3. No reason. She is the female lead!

Saath Nibhana Saathiya comes under the 3rd reason. Gopi – the protagonist is an illiterate orphan and her cousin along with her aunt hates her! Of course, hating an illiterate orphan to the extent that they would like her dead is normal, isn’t it? And yet, this type of unhealthy relationship between women is nothing new in the history of Indian television shows.

According to these shows, the good and virtuous woman always wears a dupatta and if she is married, she must drape a saree and serve her in-laws. I am not against draping a saree or dupatta but judging a woman or for that matter any human based on the way they prefer to be dressed is unacceptable. On the other side, the vamp is the one with that large bindi on her forehead or is dressed in a modern way. No one seems to acknowledge that It is very rare to find a bahu who is a working professional that explains the stereotypical expectations set for a woman in these daily soaps.

Yet, there have been a few shows that came up with an attempt of breaking the stereotype. Diya Aur Bati hum was one such unique concept. The leads are tied down in marriage but when the male lead realizes that his wife never wanted to marry and had dreams of becoming an IPS officer he supports her. The concept was path-breaking but slowly the serial started to shift in the same old pattern. There have been a few other shows that were female-centered but had to shut down quickly as they did not get any love from viewers – which speaks volumes about how the audience loves the typical saas-bahu drama.

The Marathi show – Majha navra chi bayko literally translates to my husband’s wife. It is a story where the husband has an extramarital affair with someone from his workplace, while his not-so-modern housewife takes care of her child and her husband. The plot revolves around how the wife will “save” her husband from the one he is having an affair with! I know what you are thinking right now- “such a nonsense plot”. If your partner has an extra-marital affair, what would you do? The more obvious solution would be to discuss and end the relationship. But NO! The protagonist doesn’t have any such solutions.

Instead, there is competition between the office-going woman and the wife. The wife has several other neighborhood acquaintances that give her ideas on how to teach a lesson to the modern women who they believe to be witch-like and cursed her husband. Why not? A man in his 40s and a father of a 10-year-old kid cannot differentiate between what’s right and wrong as if he is some 5-year-old kid who can be lured with chocolates!

It is hardly funny how people always blame the woman when indulging in an extra-marital affair. If it’s a relationship between two people then why is only one to blame? This show leaves no stone unturned in showing the fight for a man between two women where one of them is the legal wife. Absolutely trash. But to absolutely no surprise, every household used to watch this and root for the wife.

The men in these daily soaps do not have much of a role. Honestly, I don’t even know why men in supporting roles are cast while all the drama happens between women. All the work they have is to drink tea and stand in one corner while the drama in the center of the house between women happens or take their lunchboxes and leave to work.

This is the main reason why the youth of the country never watches television. If such misogynistic shows continue to air the youth would never be interested in watching these small-screen shows. They involve a lot of budgets but very less sense. No TRP? Get some dramatic scenes between saas and the bahu and watch the TRP touch the sky.

Who’s to blame? The makers make what buyers buy. The running times of these shows and TRP ratings themselves give a reality check of what kind of content people like to consume.

I wish this was limited to Indian shows but a few western shows also show girls who are mean to other girls just to look cool in front of random guys. Somehow it is conditioned that women need to grow up and become better than other women for a man, just like a man is conditioned to be emotionally tough. In a world where female friendships act as a necessary safe space, this portrayal continues to make things worse.

The change needs to be seen and when shows that the whole household watches start incorporating them, society shall gradually follow the suit. As an audience, we must recognize and discard the shows that are misogynistic and sexist.


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