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Popular Indian TV Series that Reek of Misogyny

by Aishwarya Iyer
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Misogynistic Indian TV series

Indian TV series and misogyny have been synonymous with each other for the longest time. Though there have been various Indian TV series that have had female centric stories, many of them succumb to the societal standards of patriarchy and misogyny.

What irks me the most about these Indian series is the fact that, women of these series haven’t changed in decades. They do wear different clothes, have different lifestyles perhaps, but are still backward, and women apparently have only the household to think about even if they have successful careers. Back in 2017, Diksha Bijlani called out Indian TV series for being regressive and misogynistic, and today, TRB aims to do the same. 

Given below are some of the most popular TV series that are regressive with a double dosages of abusive and unhealthy relationships and societal expectations. Are you ready? Let’s go. 

1.  Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon? (2011-2012)

The female lead character of this TV series, Khushi, is brought into Arnav’s life to ‘groom’ his live-in girlfriend Laavanya. This makes absolute sense to patriarchy because any woman who is not sanskari has to be taught to be so. If this was not enough, their grandmother in the later stages of the show asks for an abusive husband to return because she just does not believe in divorces.

2.  Yeh Hai Mohabbatein (2013-2019)

Divyanka Tripathi plays the role of Dr. Ishita, the wife of Raman Bhalla played by Karan Patel in this popular Indian TV series. They both get married because Raman’s daughter Ruhi, is without a mother, as Shagun and Raman are divorced. The marriage happens only because Ishita has to look after Ruhi. Ishita is a south Indian, dentist. She has her own career, but that aspect of her life is never shown. She is shown as an agyakari wife, who jumps to the rescue of the family at all times, even if it means putting her self-respect at stake.

3.  Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata hai (2009-present)

In this very long running TV series, there are too many things wrong that a few lines won’t be enough to convey them. One of the things that stuck with me is that, Naira apparently covered for her friend, at a young age, to get access to an abortion. Later on, she is married to Kartik and one fine day this piece of information is brought out, but obviously, in a wrong sense. The whole family of Kartik, shame her for getting an abortion, she is even thrown out of the house. This is just one of the many instances of misogyny in the show. Incidentally, this is the longest running Indian TV series.

4.  Kasauti Zindagi Key 2 (2018-present)

A woman is a woman’s biggest enemy. This statement has been kept true in this Indian TV series (in both the parts). A woman does everything, goes to the length of killing people and faking identities to attain her love (read obsession). This show narrates that women have nothing else to do but protect their family and her self-respect. Prerna’s sister is found to be pregnant before marriage, the guy who got her pregnant is left loose, and she suffers, is slut shamed and tortured (how typical!).

5.  Madhubala: Ek Ishq Ek Junoon (2012-2014)

So, it is absolutely okay to marry a person, torture them, and not show an ounce of love or affection towards them because love will happen later? This is the premise of this Indian TV series popular during its running years. The lead character, Madhubala gets in the cross hairs of a Bollywood Superstar RK over a case of hit and run. She sends him to jail for just four days. This apparently is a huge hit to his male ego.

He then goes on to shout in front of everyone that Madhubala is his girlfriend and that her mother has been living with her guardian. This apparently is so wrong for Indian women; I mean they obviously can’t stay with anyone they like.(Please sense the sarcasm here) This incident forces Madhubala to marry RK, now he plots his revenge, because once married, a man can do anything to his wife.

6.  Kumkum Bhagya (2014-present)

Apparently, in Indian TV series marriage does not happen because of love, it is some sort of contract or a revenge plot. Bulbul, Pragya’s sister, works at the advertising agency of the Rockstar ‘Abhi’. His best friend ends up falling in love with Bulbul despite being engaged to Abhi’s sister Aliya. Aliya misunderstands the person he is in love with, Pragya. To avoid any disturbances in the engagement of his sister, Abhi decides to marry Pragya. She also goes along with it, to protect her sister’s reputation. 

Final Words

Well, most of the Indian TV series are filled with misogyny. Producers and writers have been known to say that ‘this is what people want to see and we show it’. Most of these TV series have been known as the best  and even the most popular Indian series. Moreover, the “romance” in these shows are swooned over, even today, despite being the definition of unhealthy relationships. It makes you question; what kind of ideologies does the Indian society grow in their minds, and cultivate in the minds of their children? Is misogyny so very normal that a TV series blatantly exposing the evils of the same is celebrated as the best show?

While these are the major options in mainstream television, what are the alternatives that you have to binge while with your family?

1.  You can return to the good old basics, and watch reruns of the old serials like Hum Paanch, Dekh Bhai Dekh, or Sarabhai vs Sarabhai.
2.  Introduce your family to the OTT platforms and the vast and refreshing options of Indian TV series there.
3.  If all of these seem not enough, you can educate your family on why these shows are against everything feminism stands for and create your own normal shows that portray equality with no underlying misogyny.

Well, these were only some of the shows and the proverbial tip of the iceberg that misogynistic Indian TV series is. What do you think of these shows? How many of these have you watched? Have we missed any? Let us know!


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