Back in the 90s, some Indian TV shows were way ahead of their time. I’m talking of serials like Hasratein, Shanti, Tara, Hum Sab Ek Hai, etc. They were progressive and made us believe that Indian TV will evolve for better. But things took a turn for the worse.
We had some really popular TV serials in the 2000s and later and most of them also ran for a long duration. The only problem being these shows themselves were problematic. Here’s looking at some of the longest running Indian TV shows despite their regressive content.
1. Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah
The TV serial has been running for 13 years now. And while it has millions of fans, the show is full of problematic things that we have ignored.
From stereotyping people from different Indian states to deep-rooted patriarchy, the show is nothing more than 30 minutes of loud screechy noise. To be honest, it was always like that. I remember in one of the old episodes, Jethalal addressed his wife Daya as ‘Aye pagal aurat’ and ‘Nonsense’ in front of other members of the Gokuldham society.
The show first aired in 2015 and has since been a slap in the face of science, VFX and everything logic. Apart from this, the show also romanticised toxic relationships throught the idea of men forcing their way into women’s lives.
It’s entirely based on the fucked up concept of demonisation of female personalities. What’s even there to like about the show?
3. Sasural Simar Ka
When the show began in 2011, it was about a young girl who wanted to pursue her passion for dance after her marriage. The first season ran for 7 years and the narrative of the show changed to as regressive as it can get.
From the protagonist turning into varied avatars like a fly or witch, to life goals being reduced to making perfect laddoos, the show is too ridiculous.
They want a bahu who shouldn’t have any interests and dreams. Her only job is to parivaar ko jod ke rakhna.
4. Balika Vadhu
The show initially started out as a means to raise awareness on child marriages in India in 2008, but gradually the essence of the story was destroyed. The characters of women like Anandi and Ganga were totally butchered at a time and portrayed as bechari when we needed to see them strong.
When will these GECs stop showing regressive saas-bahu soaps, 20 yrs passed, same content, Colors is bringing Balika Vadhu s2.— The Secular Buffalo (@SecularBuffalo) August 9, 2021
Recently, it was renewed for another season which again revolved around the regressive practices of child marriage, widow-remarriage and other age-old customs.
Shouldn’t these evils be banished from the public consciousness altogether?
Remember balika vadhu? Anandi’s life is full of misery and sadness only. And people followed that serial for years together as if their own life is not problematic enough 🤦— jamanchu~bokachu (@CodeSerotonin) December 27, 2019
5. Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai
One of the longest running TV shows on Indian television, Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, redefines toxicity in marriages like no other TV serial. Naira and Kartik get married at least 6 times in the show. That’s the number of times they get separated also.
Very true but I will not totally agree with u there r shows like yeh Rishta Kya kehlata hai lead couple getting married 3-4 times seperating 3-4 times and it’s still scoring well at the box office similarly kundali and Kum kum …. the fact is only regressive content works— Mehr (@mehr144) October 24, 2018
The women in the show are always at home with the men working and earning for the entire household reinforcing patriarchy.
One of the longest running TV shows in India, Uttaran was a popular show from 2008-2015. And while the show found several fans, the main focus of the show on how girls forgo their career goals and objectives in an attempt to make everyone happy makes it a problematic one.
7. Kumkum Bhagya
The show is running since 2014 and has been nothing short of propogating regressive ideas. It gives encouragement to abusive husband behaviour. Abhi, the lead character of the show, becomes quite ruthless towards his wife just because he cannot bear the death of his daughter.
Kumkum bhagya is soooo regressive. My brain cells are dying.— The Weird (@theweird_k) November 18, 2014
8. Saath Nibhaana Saathiya
The first season of the show lasted for 7 years and recently it was renewed for a new season after the ‘Rasode mein kaun tha’ video by Yashraj Mukhate went viral.
Despite all the attention it is getting, the show is one of the most regressive TV serials. It portrays women either as ‘bechari’ or ‘vamps’. Nothing about women education or them stepping out of their homes to work has even been discussed on the show.
9. Kasautii Zindagii Kay
It was one of the highest rated shows on the Indian television back then. The first season was so popular and successful that it returned for another one in 2020.
But if you look at it, you will realise how regressive and old school it was especially when it comes to the portrayal of the female characters. And though the second season released after almost 10 years following the end of the first season, the plot remains the same. Erica Fernandes who plays Prerna in the second season, loses all her individuality because she is in love with Anurag.
10. Yeh Hai Mohabbatein
The show ran for seven years in two seasons. While the plot started as a good one and was based on the idea of infertility, it later on made mockery of the medical research and got the entire concept of surrogacy wrong at so many levels.
11. Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
The ridiculous daily soap ran for 8 long years and all through these years we were dismissive of the problems in the tear-soaked serial. The story revolved around Savita’s mistreatment to Tulsi just because Mihir married her against his mother’s wishes.
Tulsi who belonged to a lower class (priest’s daughter) had to put all efforts to win over her mother-in-law. All this effort for what?
12. Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki
The serial was among the highest TRP grossers along with Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi in the 2000s. It’s clichéd dialogues reeked of an attitude where the wife is only the husband’s property and his paon ki jutti.
In some of its latter episodes, the show also tried to normalise that men can rape their wives on the pretext of punishing them for ‘misbehaviour’.
13. Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahin
Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin came at a time when Indian television was ruled by saas-bahu serials. While we thought it was a breath of fresh air, the show encouraged deep-rooted stereotypical beauty standards. Jassi’s boss falls in love with her only after she gets a makeover to avenge the wrong doings.
14. Kundali Bhagya
The show is more like a spin-off of Kumkum Bhagya. Once again it reinforces the idea of choosing a life partner on the basis of looks and money over love and respect.
#KundaliBhagya 1000 episodes and 4 years but no one could expose Criminals like Prithlyn. What a pity that such a serial continues which has no story Script. That shows viewers watch any crap of shows on ITV— PP Jain INC (@pppjain) July 18, 2021
#KundaliBhagya character demolition kam tha ki ab aap Indian Police aur Indian Judiciary ko bhi bhikau dikha rahe ho 🤣😂 #IndianTelevision can NEVER be PROGRESSIVE it was, is and will always remain REGRESSIVE.— Varsha Subramaniam (@cutestvarsha) February 5, 2020
15. Kahiin Toh Hoga
The show normalised toxic behaviour by rich and affluent men and how they could use women from middle class families to their advantage and the women have no choice but to remain quiet for the sake of family’s ijjat. Kashish in the show was termed as gold digger, characterless and a vengeful cheat and a selfish woman several times throughout the show.
The show based on two cousin sisters – Aarti and Aaradhna – was all about the discrimination between the two. While Aarti was considered lucky, Aaradhna symbolised bad luck or apshagun because her father died when she was young. This gives everyone the liberty to torture her nothing good ever happens to her in the show.
17. Bhabhi Ji Ghar Par Hai
The show has been running since 2015. The plot of the show revolves around two middle-aged men trying to woo each other’s wives in the name of comedy. It is full of sexist dialogues and advances.
It’s high time we stop promoting, watching, engaging with shows like Bhabhi ji Ghar par Hai in the name of comedy. It’s misogynist, regressive and problematic on so many levels.@AndTVOfficial #bhabhijigharparhai— Shariqa Zia (@ZiaShariqa) July 13, 2020
Do you see a pattern here? Regressive, sexist, racist and all logic defied.