Soap operas come with some sort of magical power that causes your brain to say “This is so stupid. I’m smarter than this. I scored 92% in SSC,” over and over again but still have you absolutely addicted.
I have secretly watched Brothers and Sisters, openly been in love with Parenthood and grudgingly caught up on Packed to the Rafters. People fall in and out of love, constantly keep dealing with life-threating diseases, kill someone by mistake or deal with death in a few months. Plotlines and themes repeat themselves in the shows with younger characters (like 90210 and Gossip Girls). But, we still watch these, while being pretty public about our hatred for Indian soaps. I don’t know anyone who admits to being a fan of Bade Ache Lagte Hain or Balika Vadhu, but we’re all about who kissed who at whose party on that-show-where-mere-17 year olds-dress-like-Tyra-Banks.
I have had a lot of conversations about this with people my age and people like my parents (who are usually connoisseurs of both hindi and English soaps), and the only real difference seems to be; the way people dress on Hindi soaps and the slow-motion sequences. Just last week, Sakshi watched her not-really-but-kinda husband Ram Kapoor walk down the stairs; the lights dimmed, the music got louder and her eyes twinkled. Ten minutes of a 30 minute show. It is the exaggeration of emotions that make them so cloying and annoying.
Divorces, gay marriage, drugs and illegitimate children are dealt with better in say, a Parenthood than they are in the Hindi serials. Not that they’re aren’t multiple divorces and a crop of illegitimate children in these shows as well but they are definitely less dramatic and more real.
But honestly, reality isn’t a strong forte of soaps in English or Hindi. Take One Tree Hill, for example (now showing season 1 to 9 on Star World. I might as well just quit my job now). The two half-brothers have been married, had babies, changed sexual orientation, dated pretty much everyone in their town before turning 25. I think the Rafters are a family that has probably faced every problem to have ever befallen humanity in just a few months. Liking these shows but bad mouthing the Hindi ones is just a case of double standards.
Not to say that if you like Brothers and Sisters, you must like Diya aur Bati, you can have preferences but then dissing “K-serials” is a bit weird. I’m pretty open about watching English soaps and hating myself for it. I guess that makes me feel better.