This is a story about a morning show – specifically a particular episode that aired a few weeks ago regarding the much battered & talked about saas-bahu topic that really doesn’t need more air time in our lives.
The makers thought otherwise.
Here are the main takeaways from the episode and why we feel we don’t need saas-bahu dirty laundry to be screened on national television.
Chai, samosa & larki dekhna is not a tradition to be made light of
Saas- bahu pair one had contacted a marriage bureau to source her the daughter-in-law of her dreams, however, in the process, many Sunday chai expeditions took place and the host was quite amused by this intensely loathsome tradition that we continue to follow as a society. Morning shows reach mass households and women (future mother-in-laws) need to know that this practice must be stowed away in the past where it belongs. Making it sound like girl-watching is a party every Sunday does not go down too well for any hopes we harbour of a progressive society.
Mothers In law seek educated bahus who don’t need to work, but must have excellent house management skills
This, coming from a saas who steps out to work herself every day, but wants her daughter in law, who is a trained engineer, to sit home and play housewife. Not only that but the house must be kept absolutely spick & span, not a needle out of place lest her office colleagues and/or relatives were to visit. Not just that, the dil must also serve them, engage in intelligent conversation, and not visit her own mother’s house more than once a month or even less.
These snippets of personal incidents were probably happily digested by the throngs of housewives who tune in for some chatpatta content once husbands leave home for work, and they get it here. What’s better than listening to your neighbour crib about her saas, is to watch it live on national TV. Airing dirty laundry in public is fast becoming a national past time, and unfortunately, the nail in the coffin was when the mother in law, a supposedly educated principal of a school, proceeded to convey her displeasure of her bahu, despite the fact that the poor girl uttered that she’d tried hard to fit in and wasn’t even aware that keeping house was part of the marriage deal – marriage bureau aunty, you need to get your house in order. Sadly, what stood out was the acute absurdity of the situation where the panel of women invited to facilitate the discussion went on to have a discussion at length about how the house must be orderly (though, to their credit, they did try to side with the young bahu at times).
What was alarming in the entire program, was the realization that we have become so immune to treating daughters in law as our property, a human being we can control, direct and dictate that onlookers also fall in line with the same narrative and suggest ways and means on how (despite showing her sympathy), the bahu can ‘fit in’. This is the narrative the program followed largely.
None of the Saas Shared Grievances That The Bahu Was Rude, Or Lacked Courtesy
This, in itself, is a huge validation and no small blessing – learn to respect a relationship, women. Apparently, that was not enough for them, because they took for granted, the courtesy their bahu showed.. Above and beyond, they wanted that the bahu should not take a nap after dropping children at school, prepare dinner, serve guests, mix in with the family, not leave the home too much to meet with family and friends, and in general, manage the home like a seasoned housekeeper – albeit an untrained, and unpaid one too!
One saas went so far as to admit that she’d told her son that she could have got him a better wife – all this, stated right before her bahu, on national TV, sitting right next to her, and before all the guests in the panel. She was negated gently, for fear of upsetting her, we believe, while the poor young bahu had to bear the public shaming.
The host went on to draw parallels from western models where women work outside the home, tend to their children, clean the house, cook dinner, single-handedly, with no help, so why can’t we? My dear Nida Yasir, those women have support from their husbands who often do 50% of the work, are offered child daycare services often at the workplace, and also live in a society that does not entertain unannounced guests. They do not have to cater to a battery of in-laws and their demands, and their dinner does not, generally, consist of 5 dishes ranging from daal, roti, chawal to meat dishes, etc. get the drift? Their lifestyles are as simple as their choices. If anything, this unfair parallel was drawn to add more pressure onto a bahu in a society that does not need added pressure?
What did we miss in translation?
More so, the son or husband was totally visible in his absence. No one thought it necessary to mention that he is an essential part of the cog in the wheel that should keep mother & wife relationships running on a smoother road – don’t you love how they always manage to slip away? But it’s not really their fault as none of the 10 odd ladies present thought it wise to mention them.
Women Trapped In A Time Warp
What was equally mind-boggling was that the women, both panelists & mils were handing out advice based on their own age-old experiences. Although experience carries wisdom, we admit – times have changed. The young girls today might not feel the need to aspire to nirvana-istic levels of physical labor & self-sacrifice – keeping in-laws, husband, children, and kitchen happy in an age where times have flipped! Are you asking a young girl to undergo the same level of oppression and serve unpaid labour to a houseful of in-laws because you have done her the favour of letting her marry your son? Those days are long gone, ladies. The bahus in the morning show, we have to say, despite the overbearing mils, were made of tougher skin, you bet they were. They did not resort to any rude behaviour, histrionics or out-of-place comments. They simply stated in uncertain words – we tried, and we can’t do more than this. In other words, take it, or leave – the sentence delivered with quiet firmness mind you.
Now let’s come to the program and its agenda.
Why would a morning show screen problematic content and do we need saas bahu real life dramas?
Channel views are king and this one episode on YouTube has garnered 114K views so far, which is good for the average views the show has been enjoying; it is on the higher side, in fact.
Next, let’s come to the content itself. Saas-Bahu conflict will definitely generate views, and who doesn’t like views on their program, right? That’s what clocks in the revenue, pays bills, and keeps the program going! But saas-bahu conflicts can be aired with a view to actually giving audiences creative content instead of conflict-ridden situations too. How about showing us some homes where the two live in harmony – Goals to aspire to? Or address the issue of working women, stay-at-home husbands, how conflicts are resolved rather than created, in family settings, relationship experts, daycare facilities, parenting advice – the list is endless. And the 100K or so viewers that tune in can walk away and come back for more and better content next week?
Lastly, although we specify that channels and program makers are responsible for the content, let’s just understand that the host is the face before the audience, the influencer who is looked up to by thousands of young girls, who can help change mindsets by making sure that the content she is putting out there is watch-worthy, intelligent and out of the box.
When an episode is a success, all praise is given to the host for doing a commendable job. In the same way, when an episode is termed problematic, the host will, and must take some of the onus. Therefore, a message to all morning show hosts who struggle to put out thought-provoking content – conduct your research, find new ways of presenting old problems, arrive at solutions geared towards bettering our society, not making it more regressive.
This is your responsibility as an influencer, so please rise up to the challenge, one episode at a time!