Growing up, we had no restrictions on TV. Mostly because, we watched the well controlled and tame Doordarshan. I wasn’t allowed to bring in ‘cable TV’ till I finished my 10th standard exams. And many channels post that were considered “bad influence.” Soon afterwards, STAR TV decided to switch over to regional programming (in the national language) and decided to choose what would work for the Indian audience.
Balaji Television took India 20 years behind with their stereotypical portrayals. Sure you could argue that ‘most of India’ lived like this/that, and it was a pure business decision and personally I wasn’t the target audience. I would see people discussing the mother-in-laws and love stories in the Delhi metro, but those people were usually new imports to Delhi. My own colleagues were more interested in voyeuristic Big Boss and definitely Karan Johar’s coffee. I have no pretensions about liking film gossip showcased in a sophisticated way.It didn’t move the needle but it was ok. In fact just back from a New Jersey Gujju wedding, I have so much respect for Karan Johar’s abilities as a film maker and his sense of observations. Personally, I think all I ever did watch was DVDs of Sex and the City (also re-runs in our hotel rooms in Seoul) and Karan Johar on the Internet.
This TV war had been going on for a while. In college I had no access to television. Apart from an odd cricket match and Shah Rukh Khan’s movies (on repeat), I didn’t watch much of it. My husband grew up differently and is attached to TV like Fevicol. So once we started living together, the small screen became increasingly normal again. In Germany, I still wasn’t watching it, because it wasn’t always easy to understand – except Catfish (on Nickelodeon, which was our only English channel). In the US, I finally fall into the customer category again. There’s plenty I have enjoyed watching in the past six months here! Here’s my list:
- House of Cards: We started in Germany and continued on DVDs here. I love Claire Underwood and also her minimalism. I hated Kate Mara and realized I was just being sexist, or her character was written in a way that I judged her. Or that, I liked Kevin Spacey so much that I was rooting for him, despite everything.
- Mad Men: What’s not to like about Jon Hamm? My husband said, he’s the only one who has understood the separation of loyalty from love. That’s not me, but it’s so well written that I have no judgements for him. I also want to hate the last season.
- Daily Show/Trevor Noah: I just think this season has been fun with the elections round the corner, and there’s been enough fodder on the show politically. Also, I think the crew, especially Ronny Chieng and Hasan Minhaj are fun.
- Silicon Valley: We just started watching it and are already on the current season. It’s funny and feels real-er than I thought it would. I actually first saw it in a flight and disliked it, but decided to give it another shot now, and I am glad that I like it so. Thomas Middleditch’s doing a good job!
- Craig Ferguson/ Join or Die: In Germany, I watched a ton of the episodes from the Late, Late show and it really was funny. Join or Die is okay, but Craig Ferguson is funny, even if my own pop culture trivia knowledge of the topics isn’t necessarily high enough to enjoy it fully. I still like watching him though. Besides, I love the accent.
- HGTV: Property brothers/ Flip or Flop – just fun television and make the gym routine so much more bearable (P.S.: I hate the gym, but I also see no other options)
- Shark Tank: We’ve seen a ton of Shark Tank since we came to the US. I’ve begun to see what makes a startup investment-worthy, or which pitch works. It’s fun but I’ve seen so many that I guess I am a bit over it now.
- CNN: I don’t really mind watching the Anderson show/ debates, even though I can’t vote. But clearly, you’d know what I’d vote blue, if I could.
- Formula 1/ Random sports: I did watch sporadic Formula 1 races before I met my husband. But I don’t have a choice now. We watch it regularly as the season is on. I do have my preferences and enjoy it. I don’t necessarily enjoy my disconnected husband during the programming (of course I try talking to him during the race. I am determined to make him less obsessed, and be more normal).
- Vinyl: The truth is there are many many times that I’ve asked my husband to not switch it on, because it’s so gruesome. But it’s also so edgy, and Scorsese and New York. There’s so much trivia that my head’s buzzing at the end of the hour. Bobby Cannavale and Olivia Wilde are phenomenal. It’s so rich that I could not believe the first season ended so soon. It’s not toned down at all, so you may need to research a little before exposing kids to this show. Oh and what an incredible time and what a fantastic show! When my mother once said, India is a 100 years behind the west, I think she meant the 70s (in terms of the freedom to experiment and good old liberty).