How hard is it to entertain?

Tough question, I know. But as a viewer or consumer of entertainment, I have to say, it’s not that hard to entertain me. I don’t demand complicated stories or over-the-top, unbelievable settings. In fact, I want quite the opposite. Something I can relate to. Something I can believe. Something I can smile with or occasionally, feel sad with. Unfortunately, no Hindi TV channel can offer me this.

When I ask for the above, I know I’m in the minority. But this is a sizeable minority, I would like to believe. Pundits would have other opinions supported by floors of papers and polls and research. But hey, no one asked me. Or anyone I know! And all of us want something simple.

Economics that run TV channels demand that they cater to the lowest common denominator. The result is the same type of ‘entertainment’ across channels. If you switched channels between shows, chances are, you won’t realise you’re watching another show until you check for the channel’s logo. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but if TV channels are allowed, so am I!

In the last dozen years or so, I have switched over to mostly English-language entertainment. This is not due to some urban superiority complex that compels me to renounce local/national language channels. No, sir. I definitely enjoy Hindi/Marathi plays, movies and even music. So why not TV?

Ask any number of people between 20 and 40 years of age (these are mostly people born post 1970) and they want light-hearted entertainment. If TV channels want demographics, one could argue that these are 99% urban/semi-urban, exposed to foreign culture and English movies or TV at an early age. Soap operas don’t interest us.

I know that for every English show, there is/has been a Hindi clone. (Who can forget the disastrous clone of Friends that aired some years back?). These obviously haven’t cut it. Some of the things we despise are:

1. Melodrama

2. Songs in TV shows that require dance support

3. Triple-takes (unless meant for comic relief!)

4. Bickering and/or familial problems blown out of proportion

I would like to see varied topics/subjects being dealt with. What does an urban-dweller want after 10 hours in the office? Comedy that is verbal and not physical. Situational is fine, but let it flow. Challenge our intelligence. Don’t make us vegetate. At least earn a smile from us. (Believe me, SAB TV hardly gets a grimace right now).

Speaking of SAB TV, they are the most honest attempt at entertaining. They do tackle varied backgrounds of people, but the subject matter largely remains same. This, of course, gives them the opportunity to create situational comedy, but more or less, this gets repeated.

In case some of the programming whizkids have not yet figured out, here are some of the shows that have done well and caught the fancy of me and others like me:

1. Friends (despite its over telecast, this will be one of the most popular shows of our generation)

2. Lost

3. Prison Break

4. CSI (pick a city!)

5. Dexter

6. Californication

7. Mad Men

8. Weeds

9. American Idol

10. MasterChef Australia (not USA, not India)

The above list is a variety. Comedy, drama, action, reality, suspense, family (Weeds!) and food. That, to me, is a huge subject choice to make something that appeals to us. Something that is not over the top, not hysterical (CID), not repetitive.

To make it easier, we want something that’s either/or funny (wittily and intelligently), inventive (original or inspired!), catchy (addictive) and well-made (high production value, please). It also wouldn’t hurt if it were rooted in reality (I’m sure they exist, but I don’t know too many massively large rich families that spend most of their waking hours feuding).

Anyone up for the challenge?

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