That’s a Lot of Pink: Too Many Web Series About Urban Women?
The urban woman’s struggle has become the ‘saas-bahu’ trope of web-series.
Feminist, the word that has very recently achieved the status of being a cliché. Everybody is a feminist now, from the beloved Justin Trudeau to your neighbourhood cyber stalker who occasionally reminds you of his existence with a “Hello sweetie, looking saxy.’’ Feminism is everywhere, just check your Facebook newsfeed if you don’t believe me. My ‘everywhere’ should be strictly read as only virtually. In real life – how should I put it – ‘Aise baatein sirf Twitter aur Facebook pe achi lagti hain’.
Don’t worry, I am coming to the point. The point is that, like the internet addict I am, I spend half my waking hours staring deeply into my phone’s screen. Thus, I watch everything and anything on YouTube. Recently, the concept of web-series has picked up. A lot of original and interesting content can be found on YouTube. But (you had to see this coming) there is one theme that is overdone, repetitive, and has become plain annoying.
Yes, you guessed right. I am talking about a certain type of feminism, which is so universally prevalent in web-series that it makes you wonder if the writers are suffering from the same disease as that of television soap writers in India. It is like what ‘saas-bahu’ is to TV that is what the struggles of the modern woman is to web-series. As in TV-series, If someone has a ‘naagin’ in their show then every other TV series will somehow manage to introduce a ‘naagin’ plot line in their show, the same thing seems to be happening with web series.
So let’s do a headcount: Ladies Room and Man’s
World by Y-Films and TVF, Girliyapa, Blush-Alisha, among others. Interestingly,
Girliyapa and Blush are actually from the producers of TVF and Being Indian, but instead of putting these videos on the parent channel, a separate channel
is created to be about nothing but women.
Y-Films show, ‘Man’s World’ used sarcasm and irony to highlight the problems faced by women in India by reversing the societal rules applied to women on men. TVF’s channel Girliyapa is a whole channel dedicated to women, using sketch and situational comedy to bring forth women’s issues. Blush is another channel solely dedicated to women, but has an assortment of videos with varied style and treatment. All of these videos or web-series are about women and the problems they face because they are ‘women’.
Let’s face it, how creative can one get with the same topic. There are bound to repetitions, in-jokes and unfortunately, even repeated titles (Y-Films and TVF both have a web series called the ‘Ladies Room’).
The problem lies in the fact that there isn’t a whole lot of web-series or channels in India and if 70% of the content is about women, then the only conclusion I can draw is that feminism has become a pot of gold and everyone wants a piece of it. If feminism is reduced to a marketing gimmick then the novelty will be lost in the pursuit of profit. Before you complain that I am one of those people who are never happy, that is true, but it’s not the point.
Indian web-series provide the Indian youth an opportunity to watch something that hasn’t been downloaded illegally or censored to an irritating extent on TV. Let’s also take into consideration that nobody has the time or the energy to watch something at a fixed time on TV. If everything seems absolutely the same that motivation will be easily lost.
Yes, women and their perspective and problems are quite lost in our Indian popular culture, but harping on it with this amount of vengeance will make the whole cause a joke. Women in India face various problems depending on their surrounding and place in the social strata but what we see in web-series is only one facet that of the urban woman. Even in urban areas, there isn’t only this category of woman there are countless others. This sort of feminism for me is selective and driven by the need to address their target audience.
It isn’t as if our society suffers from only one issue, what about the overuse of drugs? Do we refrain from talking about it because the Americans have made marijuana legal and if they think it’s okay , criticising it here in this country would make us break the rules of ‘ what’s cool’?
I would personally love a show which is about people from the north-east and their struggles with being seen as nothing more than adorable, harmless ‘Chinkis’. There isn’t a dearth of topics in our country and they don’t necessarily need to be a cause, it could be just pure nonsensical entertainment. In cinema, we have forever criticised the male-dominance and in TV we can’t abide by all that household drama so why are web-series above reproach?
I am not against them per-se because I kinda love them but some variation won’t hurt, especially in their plots about women. I am, as a viewer, a generally greedy person and will never be satisfied. If the internet is a true arena of artistic expression, then don’t put that expression in a neat box labelled ‘in-demand’ complete with a cute pink ribbon.
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