Show and tell.

I was very recently recommended a show. Okay, no, I was told about one casually and being the show whor enthusiast that I am, I of course had to start watching it.

Yeah, it isn’t the best show, but I have to watch it through. Commitment, etc. All 2 seasons worth. Of course. It’s called Deadbeat, and like its name suggests... Okay, it’s got its moments… when you’re at a loose end on a(n alcohol free) Sunday evening.  The show has a couple of rotational opening montages and one of the scenes is of the protagonist– an over-sized, near-homeless ‘medium’ making tap water coffee. I snobbily went, ‘Oh, gross!’ till I remembered I had done the same thing while at Uni. Yeeeeeah… So, moving on… It’s amazing how most non-Indian shows inter-weave real life nuances into their plots and characterizations. Earlier (a nifty way of saying ‘when I was younger’ without actually admitting an older state of being) I used to watch shows just because they’re famous, or on TV, or err, recommended… Okay, nothing much has changed since, but the point is, now I am amazed at the depth of most shows, even the bad ones (cue in: Deadbeat). Characters have gone from being unidentifiable entertaining stereotypes to real people. I sympathize with the seemingly worse, messed up ones and acknowledge the few ‘normal’ ones as nothing but aspirational ideals. The ones that make us feel like there’s something better out there. Somewhere. Oddballs, neurotics, depressives, downright homicidal people seem relate-able in more ways than I would like to openly admit. But there you have it. Once Carrie B was a talentless, malnourished, somewhat zanily dressed good-time girl who liked being repeatedly hurt by Big to being someone courageous enough to write about something people wouldn’t acknowledge openly, sticking to her sense of style, enmeshed with her friends and having deep-seated commitment issues with a man equally messed up. I am not saying she’s better or worse, just that she is in fact a person. As real as they come.

No wonder more and more self aware Indian people gravitate towards shows from other countries. My self-deluded, ‘all is well’ mantra chanting country is sadly content churning out delusional crap day after day in an endless cycle. The volume of tripe out there just perpetuates the what-I-call (Miranda reference blithely thrown in!) ‘living under a rock’ culture and I don’t think there’s an escape hatch once you’re couch potato-ed in. But then again, people do watch them as a means of escaping. How do they actually benefit? Is oblivion such a keeper?

I remember this lesson we had in 8th or 9th grade. ‘What is a good book?’ (or something like that) which talked about the importance of not just reading, but reading well. which is to say, reading quality books. The more slovenly your choice of reading material gets, the more slovenly your mind becomes. I remember discussing this aspect for hours with my mom and had (for a time) become very conscious of what I fed my brain. I do read a lot of fiction, sometimes utter rubbish, but till date I make a conscious effort to read something with more gravitas than my tired/lazy brain wants to comprehend initially and then once the book is read, I can sit for days pondering over it. Something no pulp fiction will make you want to do. I usually forget the plot of such books within days. But the good ones, they are my life-line to who I choose to become as a person.

I discussed the merits of book reading with a friend recently, and she admitted to having not read much. But she did watch a lot of TV shows growing up in the Middle East, shows I wasn’t privy to until much later growing up in the hinterlands of Assam. I realized then that even watching good shows vs. not-so-good ones has the same results as reading. She is eloquent, knowledgeable with a fantastic grasp of people and the world in general, and the foundations lay, other than home environment and upbringing, on the shows she had watched.

Which brings me back to the questionable brain development of the current fans of Indian television. What is their thinking attuned to? How much are they actually aware of anything beyond ‘feel good-look pretty-get the dreamboat and your life is set’ philosophy? Or the ones choked up to the gills with ‘sanskaar’ and ‘parivaar’ where the person loses the ‘self’ so rapidly there’s nothing healthy endorsing individual growth or harmless self-actualization. Compromise has become a norm. It probably stems from how we compromise living from day-to-day in towns and cities which offer up next to nothing on the global scale. And the fact that they continue to find people with similar thought processes – shouldn’t that be an alarm bell going off frantically somewhere?

I am guessing this is all derivative my personal, older, rather cynical state of mind. So, if you’re getting annoyed reading this, kindly adjust.

Jao sasuma ke pair chuo and turn the other way when she demeans your sister-in-law cause you’re obviously the better of the two. Like duh!


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