As a kid, I would always sit down with my dad, every Sunday and binge watch all the episodes of any reality TV shows, because I was never a big fan of the ‘saas-bahu‘ melodrama. But, after growing up, I basically ended up despising almost all of them, not because of the contestants but because of the insensitive jokes of the anchors, which never made any sense to me. In this piece, I would try to channelise my rage towards few of the popular shows on Indian television, and my disassociation with them.
India television, not unlike our society in general, has had a culture of humourising any and every serious problem. Are you sexist, misogynist, transphobic, fatphobic, or discriminatory in any way? We got a job for you – become a comedian or probably just host a show for us. We, the people of India, will not only give you good TRPs, but also laugh and enjoy your shitty jokes, so what if they’re offensive?
In order to hold back the audience or to gain the maximum viewership, they’d have someone as an anchor to introduce/ insult/ belittle contestants/judges/themselves.
Coming to the point, all the reality TV shows that showcase, encourage, and judge talent of people from varied backgrounds, follow typically the same format. In order to hold back the audience or to gain the maximum viewership, they’d have someone as an anchor to introduce/ insult/ belittle contestants/themselves/judges. The canned, flat, predictable dialogue coming from the mouths of the anchors of the show are often ignored or laughed at. But as a feminist, it has always troubled me to the extent where now, I can appreciate neither the object nor the talent available on the show, even if I want to – thanks to these anchors!
I have been watching Indian Idol, since I was very young, but the current season was a trauma to be faced. My family loves the show and I was made to watch the show (at least few episodes) out of compulsion. The anchor of the show, Manish Paul, can’t keep it cool. He can’t be subtle about misogyny or sexism. One of the female contestants on the show was forced to get married, and then she tried to commit suicide. What best can we do? We laugh when she is called on the show and made fun of by saying ‘funny’ stuff like, “Sabko ladko ki shamat lagane aa gayi hai” (she will beat up all the men), just because she wanted to pursue her dreams, without getting married.
He constantly makes fun of other contestants as well, by saying all kinds of problematic and uncomfortable things. Making fun of someone’s broken tooth, broken English, dancing style, baldness – you name it. He was also seen making fun of the height of one of the judges, because what else matters in a talent show – everything other than the talent, apparently.
Besides the problematic anchor and the sexual predator judge, the show creates humor around the people who can’t sing properly but come for the audition. Anyway, there’s a lot about the show that’s problematic, this being the last part of it.
Another show that I want to talk about is the dance reality show being aired on Star Plus. I’ve honestly always been a big fan of the show because of Shakti Mohan. But I always have the cringe now, every time, I try to watch the show. Why? The anchors (Raghav Juyal, a great dancer himself and Sunanda). Here, Raghav, just like Manish Paul can’t stop flirting with every female guest who comes to the show. The difference is that Raghav also constantly keeps flirting with Shakti, despite her saying no, so many times. The show tries to build it’s amusement around the idea of “A feeble no equating to a yes”, and how a guy should never stop trying to win over the girl, irrespective of how many times she has refused.
In one of the episodes, Raghav even marries her, in his dream sequence, probably. They now have an added anchor, who hits constantly on both the male judges on the show. Besides, Raghav making out weird phrases like “OOOO YEAH” from his mouth, Sunanda going around saying that she’d marry either of the two judges are unsettling sights to say the least.
Since the anchor of Bigg Boss has already received garland of praises for his comments on body shaming, #MeToo movement, Swara Bhasker’s open letter, and many more, I don’t even want to get into it. The same channel hosts another reality show called India’s Got Talent, where the venom is spewed more by the judge (Karan Johar) than the anchor. However, I do remember watching one of the episodes, where Malaika Arora was encouraging one of the contestants to continue twerking, even after receiving hateful comments by Kirron Kher.
Also read: Bigg Boss Season 10 And Its Rampant Sexism
I don’t watch lot of soap operas on TV, because every time I do, I find something problematic about them and then I’m filled with so much of rage that I want to basically just scream “FEMINISM!” in all of their faces. Please let me know in the comments section, what was your moment of cringe, while watching any of these sexist people hosting/ judging these reality shows.