As I was scrolling my feed, I caught sight of posts that criticized or rather mocked the new season of Four More Shots Please!. The series was charged with allegations of pseudo-feminism where women’s empowerment was reflected in the depiction of sex and the drinking capacity of the four women. These are the most naïve and underestimated criticisms. Whenever a series is dropped, they are critically reviewed which can range from being a positive viewpoint to negative. Such criticisms are inevitable because that helps in the production of better content. Therefore, criticisms are supposed to be well analysed and carefully calibrated. In this particular case, the criticisms seem more of a grudge venting-out mechanism as the series doesn’t checklist the boxes of conventional notions of femininity as prescribed by the society.
Before I question and smash these criticisms to the ground and present analysed criticisms, it’s important to brief you about the series. It’s a story of four different independent women who don’t wear the stereotypes; the labels rather live their life on their terms which is beyond society’s expectations. They run their world and show the rest of the society that girls will be girls forever. It’s all about love, friendship and career.
Four More Shots Please! encapsulates several pertinent issues like homosexuality, the stigma of being a divorcee, freedom of press, fearless opinion, sexual discrimination at workplace, the beauty standards upheld by the society, ordeals of a single mother, life of a working woman, women’s sexuality, and lastly the idea of free women alongside so many other issues. When I see these issues, I see norms being defied, unnecessary and imposed grievances being exposed and patriarchy being challenged to its roots. This reaffirms my belief that such naïve criticisms emanated because society couldn’t stomach the world of free women and was in aghast on losing control over the life of women. Such futile criticism reinforces the entire theme of the series.
What is sad is the reduction of Four More Shots Please! to only sex and alcohol. What is sad is people still are blank about the idea of women’s empowerment. What is sad is people still are riddled with patriarchal notions that cloud their rationality. The series does have certain nuances to it that makes it worth watching.
What is sad is the reduction of Four More Shots Please! to only sex and alcohol.
The Four Shots At Patriarchy
The story is of a single mother, Anjana Menon, in her 30s, who balances her professional and personal life while adhering to her beliefs. She doesn’t give in to the unjust demands and actions of her misogynistic boss; rather fights back against the sexual discrimination and mansplaining every woman has to face at the workplace, and this is true empowerment.
She also challenges the stigma around the sexuality of a divorced woman by openly embracing and talking about it. Our society will defend men’s actions of having extra-marital affairs or unrestrained sexuality by saying, “Men will be men. They have desires;” while a woman will be slut-shamed, imprisoned within the four walls, and will be adorned in labels.
The next story is of a fearless journalist, Damini, who doesn’t follow the dictates of others and does whatever she wants to, writes whatever tunes with her perceptions and not what is expected of her. She quits her job where she is not respected. She pens down a controversial book that invites political opposition and fights against all odds to get it published. She is called a prostitute, death threats and sexist slurs are thrown at her; yet her book comes out as the bestseller which again is true empowerment.
The third story is about a bisexual woman, Umang, who falls in love with a celebrity. She comes out to her parents who don’t accept her. The other side of this beautiful lesbian love story has a celebrity struggling with her public image. This shows us the reality of a hypocritical industry that seems modern and accepting, while they still adhere to societal expectations. Yet, Sameera Kapoor rises above this hypocrisy and openly embraces her love. Well, this is empowerment.
Four More Shots Please! should rather be criticized on the grounds of being elitist. Sexual liberty is a luxury, a privilege that is not available to all women.
The last story is about a beautiful though insecure woman who is body-shamed by her mom, let alone be the society. She is a south Bombay girl who is reminded every day of her privilege, her fat body and her ‘lazy’ life. She is fed with the narrative that no boy will marry her because she is not ‘beautiful’. Siddhi transforms the self-hate to self-love. She calls out all the hypocrites who love gazing at her body yet have tons of problems if she starts embracing it. She owns her body, and celebrates it. She defies the prescribed beauty standards and establishes the fact that every woman is beautiful in her way. We just need to validate and accept ourselves. Each body is beautiful. This is true empowerment.
The Problems With The Mainstream Criticisms
When I see this storyline, I feel people by mistake watched a different Four More Shots Please!. In a bizarre world, I would take cognizance of their foolish criticisms and throw it back on them. These critics felt burns when they saw a woman-centered series openly celebrating their sexuality and being involved in open relationships. For such narrow-minded people, yes, sex is empowering! Why does society dread on the sight of a woman expressing her desires?
These four women challenge these bondages that chain their sexuality. It saddens me to see that educated individuals themselves engage in such baseless criticisms. A society where sex is a taboo for a woman who is not allowed to embrace it, if we see these conceptions being challenged and normalized; that is true empowerment. So, sex is empowering. It’s disheartening that these people are very much okay with watching sexual scenes in Hollywood. Likewise, if a woman enjoys drinking, unnecessary poking at her just reinforces the idea that these criticisms are nothing but fear; the fear of losing control over women.
Four More Shots Please! should rather be criticized on the grounds of being elitist. Sexual liberty is a luxury, a privilege that is not available to all women. It could have been charged with allegations of being incapable of realistically portraying the misery of real sufferers. It highlights real issues and tackles it too, but with tinctures of privileges. This is supposed to be the real criticism. In a rush to incorporate all of the issues, it loses its charm of the plot line. Nevertheless, it’s one of a few feminist series telecast in India. There are miles to travel because it’s just the beginning.
The feeling of being empowered comes when you do what you want to; when you follow your ideas and principles rather than succumbing to the societal framework. Empowering is subjective because it emanates from subjective living circumstances. What is empowering for me is different for others because every woman has her share of ordeals and hardships; rising from it is empowerment.
Every woman is subjected to various hurdles by virtue of her gender. It’s high time for a woman to still have to adjust her desires, opinions with larger expectations. It’s high time for a woman to unveil her sacrificial avatar and veil her real avatar. Whilst living for everyone else, let women reclaim themselves. It’s high time that we rise above these frivolous allegations and enter the real world that has a room full of real problems. Thus, these women will be women; flawed, fearless, and fashionable.
Featured Image Source: Scroll