‘Rivals In Law’: A Saas-Bahu Cookout Show That’ll Make You Cringe
Rivals In Law: a timeless conflict garnished with horrific stereotypes
If you believe that every man is sandwiched between his mother and his wife, like a chubby filling, let me introduce you to a new TV show that you’ll love. Rivals In Law on the newly launched FYI infotainment channel is based on this premise and a zillion other horrific stereotypes, that women are trying hard to break away from. But that’s all in vain I guess.
Chef Vicky Ratnani hosts a cookout in which a man gets to place an order (his favourite dishes of course), and his mother and wife compete to cook their own versions of it. Then he gets to decide who the better cook is. And if you think this is about food, prepare to be disgusted.
So essentially, it’s maa ka balidaan vs peace in the bedroom. I don’t know about you but I no longer have the patience for cliches. Especially when it comes to women and housework. As if the only way for them to prove their love (and worth) is to whip up a scrumptious meal.
Are ‘mamma’s boy’ and ‘joru ka ghulam’ still a thing? Should the day’s menu decide who the boss of the house is? And most importantly, does love depend on cooking skills? The makers of Rivals In Law certainly seem to think so.
The celebrity chef-host adds fuel to the fire like a ‘bitchy neighbourhood aunty’ (bring on the stereotypes yeah!) with his poking questions. Besides that, he only plates up the rival dishes to make them look deceptively similar. What a waste.
There are a zillion questions in my mind as a viewer, as a woman and as someone who isn’t a spectacular cook. In fact my married life started out with a cliche too. My father-in-law shared his pearls of wisdom with me on my first day in ‘the sasural’.
He said, “All family problems start in the kitchen. As long as women of the house don’t share a kitchen, everything will be fine.” I saw his point as I frowned upon it and was happy about it being one less thing to do. But it made me wonder why we garnish our food with such insecurities.
So what am I really ranting about? That’s a tough one, where should I even begin? The banal conventions this show reinforces repulse me- Man gets fed good food while women bicker away; the kitchen is always a war zone; mothers should feel insecure about their sons after marriage and that it is the collective responsibility of a man’s wife and mother to feed and ‘take care’ of him. Oh, and how can I ignore the man’s perspective? In one of the episodes, a wife jokingly threatens her husband to make her win or he’ll have to sleep on the couch. Ouch and yuck!
This show actually pains me. Even its makers probably realised how brain numbingly unoriginal it is, and so they decided to throw in one ‘quirky’ episode where the wife gets to play judge, while her husband and mother-in-law compete to impress her. Waah!
The promo is the most cringe-worthy part of this regressive kahaani ghar ghar ki saga. But here’s some consolation. The show is the Indian adaptation of an international reality series by the same name. Thankfully, this was a ‘western’ idea. But how could India pass on it? It fits right into our daily lives after all.
Of course the conflict between mothers and their daughters-in-law is real and timeless. But do we have to encourage the pointless insecurities and rivalries by selling them as entertainment? Is reality not damaging enough to relationships? Are expectations from women to please not high enough already? At least let food be food.
All I have for Rivals In Law is a slow clap and one tight slap.
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