Ever felt like punching a character right in the face while watching a TV show? Actually don’t bother to answer because anybody who has ever watched an Indian TV show has obviously been there. From the aadarshwaadi bahu who wouldn’t even bat her eyelids before worshipping her douchebag of a pati parmeshwar to chauvinistic men, Indian TV shows would perhaps seize existing if it weren’t for their problematic characters.
But wait, don’t get confused here. When we say problematic, we don’t say the antagonist whose sole aim is to be a sucker in the show. Nope! We talk about characters like Simar who are projected to be the “good” ones but happen to be way more problematic than the antagonists themselves. On our target here is the good, old bahu who facilitates patriarchal narratives, entitled men who wear the prince charming’s facade, and toxic mothers in law who treat their daughter in law not too differently from their living room carpet. For us, these are the actual villains, the characters that make even the antagonists look nice. And of course, we have a shitlist with seven of these problematic characters which currently top the list. Intrigued who these might be? Read on:
Arghh! So where do we begin? Should it be Omkar’s seriously unhealthy obsession with the stereotypical idea of beauty, his dictatorial ways, or his aggression? I mean we are literally talking about a character who in a moment of anger--when his wife defied his orders--ended up scarring her face! And no, he isn’t the villain of the show, he is a central character. If the makers want us to sympathise with him simply ‘coz he has a troubled past or because he just tried scarring his own damn face to make up for Mayura, sorry, that’s not happening!
High time, Jethalal gets called out for making lecherous advances on Babitaji. And don’t even get us started on how he talks with his own wife. For years, now the garb of comedy has been used on Indian TV to normalise problematic behaviour and well, we aren’t hearing any excuses for any of it anymore. Think of it this way: Jethalal in a way is the central character of the show that so many kids have literally grown up watching. God forbid if they end up internalising some of his problematic traits!
Just last month, I heard Bani in Naagin 5 regretting the fact that she resisted the unsolicited advances of her now-husband Aakesh (the cheel, for some extra reference). She legit said that it was her mistake to resist him while he was forcefully trying to marry him, and bro, we just can’t! Can the Ekta Kapoor shows stop romanticising the entire idea of men forcing their way into women’s lives ‘coz it’s honestly scary AF in real life! Also, we don’t want the roadside romeo types to get the idea that it’s a foolproof way of winning women! Nope, that’s not how it works and given the kind of audience that this bonkers show must be catering to, we are pretty worried that they might end up sending away exactly that message. So stop, just Staphhh!
Okay first things first: we hate Yug Pratap for hating upon a woman (Chamcham) that he was initially attracted to because of her profession and acting like anything that she touches gets automatically maligned. The man has no claims on her whatsoever to act like the egomaniac that he is currently behaving like. He constantly calls her “nachaniya” and makes it sound like a cuss word. But worst of all, for someone who claims to act like Chamcham is impure and maligns everything she touches, he has been doing too much of touching and frisking with the girl of late. Chauvinistic, elitist, sexist, and classist. Seriously, what’s not to hate?!
Just heard the 9-year-old Bondita from Barrister Babu referring to another young girl as ‘Sasu Maa’ and not gonna lie, it really made our souls crawl down our spines. Don’t get us wrong here. Yes, we get that the makers are ‘trying’ to project it as a show with a social message. However, the problem is that we are getting a solid Balika Vadhu deja vu here and we are so tired of Indian show-makers’ half-assed efforts to make a social commentary and then creating something absolutely counterproductive.
While the first season of Saath Nibhaana Saathiya might be long over, the reruns of the show are still airing with crazy good TRP ratings especially among the rural audience. And it is the toxic saas traits of Kokilaben that have us really worried for the exact same reason. I mean to watch Kokilaben and her dictatorial ways on television is one thing but to endure someone like her in real life is something else altogether. Seriously, be it her primitive mindset or her sexist approach to almost everything, this is a problematic character that we don’t want to watch ever again!
Sure the angry young man sounds like quite a trope when it comes to deciding up male lead roles for TV shows in India. And while we need to do away with these problematic characters from all the shows, we especially want to make a case for youth-oriented shows here. Yes, Kaisi Yeh Yaariaan is long done and dusted. However, given Parth Samthaan and Niti Taylor’s fan following, it is safe to say that the show is very much alive in the viewers’ memory and the last thing we want to teach young girls is that they need a man like Manik in their lives. He is a bully, he is rude, and temperamental in the worst way possible. Hear me you girls, you don’t want a Manik in your lives and a thumbs down to the gorgeous man who played the character for making us believe otherwise!
So fam, which one of these problematic characters tops your shitlist now?
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