Indian Serials: Limit The Cringe, Please!

There is no need to drag a plot indefinitely to over a thousand episodes, introducing twists and inconsistencies, and new faces for more Masala.

A friend and I were catching up on the newest series on OTT and exchanging notes on the ones we had enjoyed.

“I wish the content were regulated- some of the scenes are just impossible to watch with children!” she retorted.

“I think television is safer. Remember the good old days when after finishing dinner, you could huddle around the TV set with your family and watch the 8:00 PM serial?” I reminisced.

“Serials nowadays are not like what they used to be! Trust me, it’s hard to watch some of them with children!” she retorted.

My friend’s statement is true, sadly. From the bits and pieces I have watched, the threads are common, the issues jaded, and the content cringe. While it may not be true of every serial, it is true for many of them.

Here are the key issues that make many serials hard to watch: (of course, there may be exceptions)

Relationships are twisted

There is a lead couple, but along the way, they get paired with side characters to prolong the story (and the viewer’s agony). There are several permutations and combinations, with some seeming irrational and forced. Second chances at relationships are fine, but not in the way they are depicted. When the female lead disappears or there is a separation track, another woman pops up for the male lead. This kind of seamless transition of roles doesn’t happen even in the corporate world!

I recently caught up with a popular serial; a character’s husband died, so now, she is romantically pursuing her married brother-in-law with a vengeance. Such drama! Save me from the trauma. A mockery is made of family values and relationships. What kind of impact will it leave on the minds of the target family audience?

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Predictable plots

The content and tracks are repetitive and almost all the time focus on family dramas. The issues, the misunderstandings, rare moments of happiness, scheming villains, new problems; rinse and repeat for three hundred episodes.

When the serial becomes sluggish, something drastic happens to the plot; like an unnecessary twist or introduction of a new character. Where are the clean comedies and the endearing family dramas? The ones that celebrate relationships in the right spirit, and no conflict is so big to tear the family apart. Ones in which social issues are addressed in earnest, in the hope of educating the viewer and making them evolve? Is this why OTT is becoming more popular?

Misogyny and a ‘mirror’ to society. Really?

In an attempt to be torchbearers of feminism, serials end up becoming even more regressive. The female lead is tortured and subjected to injustice; be it her right to study, to work, or to undertake something new. Her victory is shown to come at a cost, without showing the right reformative action or repentance from the other characters. Character arcs are poorly handled.

In a popular serial, a woman finds her husband cheating on her. She divorces him and continues to live in the same house after ensuring he marries the woman he cheated on her with. Is this supposed to show empowerment? Wrong on so many levels.

The villains rarely pay for their actions. When one scheme bombs, in a remarkable show of resilience, they move on to the new scheme.

Wish the viewers had the same resilience.

The unrealistic drag and the leap

Why does one single incident drag so much?

In the serial universe, time truly follows another dimension. Festivals are celebrated for weeks. They would probably cook a two-minute Maggi for twenty minutes. The female lead makes her way to the main door after several dialogues and a whole episode. You wish you could push her out of the door yourself.

When the serial stagnates or the leads decide to move on to newer opportunities, the ‘generation leap’ happens where the cast is replaced with a younger cast; the long-suffering offspring of the long-suffering lead couples. And lets start all over again.

Emotional investment? What’s that?

As a viewer, I want to be emotionally invested in the lead character’s story. I want to celebrate with them when they overcome their adversity and cry tears of joy when they are reunited with their love. However, any investment is often met with disappointment simply because of the inconsistencies and memory losses.

Many a time, the episode is depressing and toxic, and makes a mockery of issues like surrogacy or women’s right to employment. In between generation leaps, the leads die unexpectedly without proper closure, leaving the viewer dangling and feeling disappointed at the lack of closure.

Whatever serials I’ve watched, I’ve been able to tolerate them on and off for 3-4 months at maximum, after which the story gets distorted beyond recognition, and any new, brave, and bold concept evolves into the same stale story, yet again.

Short is good

Short is good because it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and most importantly, a story. There is no need to drag a plot indefinitely to over a thousand episodes, introducing twists and inconsistencies, and new faces for more Masala. The episodes are unlimited, but the viewer’s patience certainly isn’t!

Is it time to bring back the limited-episode serial?

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About the Author

Lalitha Ramanathan

Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...

54 Posts | 75,480 Views

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