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Notes on The Carrie Diaries

Notes on The Carrie Diaries

The Carrie Diaries. Oh yayer! A look into the past of the woman who spoke to the modern, sexually liberated woman? Hell, the woman who invented the modern, sexually liberated woman? This should be good. I put my feet up and keep a bowl of salad within reach. Alright, alright it’s a bowl of potatoes and butter. Geez. Food police!

A quick introduction to The Bradshaw bunch, not to be confused with the brady bunch. Bradshaw mom just lost a battle with cancer and her sister is a pot-smoking, kohl-eyed teenager with teenage angst. Her dad seems nice.

Oh look. Carrie’s off to school. Of course, there are a bunch of snobby, popular mean girls who wear way too much make up. Stage for coming of age staple. Carrie has three best friends; Mouse, Maggie and Maggie’s boyfriend. (That guy is gay for sure.)

New kid, with blonde hair and sunglasses. His lips are so strange. It feels like I’m watching Beverly Hills 90210.

Side note: Wait, hold up! Is Mouse Knives from Scott Pilgrim vs the World? Props to the cast of Scott Pilgrim making it on TV. Kim is on The Newsroom, Michael Cera is back as George Michael. Yay!

Oh oh. Seems that Carrie’s the only virgin in the gang. Her friend just called it ‘putting a hot dog through a key hole’. Excuse me while I retch.

Flashback to new kid and Carrie making out in the pool last summer. Well, of course.

Ok, her dad comes to school and she passes out because the last time he did, it was to give her news about her mum dying. That’s kind of sad. He’s come to talk to her about an internship in Manhattan. That couldn’t wait till she came from school?

Her sister has ruined her mother’s bag. But Carrie goes all DIY on it and starts splashing nail polish. Madonna plays in the background. Oh, yeah this is the 80s

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Carrie is in Manhattan now! The beginning of everything. That voiceover about the city of dreams and big buildings. Yawn.

She runs into the editor of Interview magazine. Gushing follows. She’s African American and a shop lifter who “collects people”. Ugh. She takes Carrie out partying and drinking and she meets the first gay people ever. Oh, and a sardar guy! They are all dressed idiotically. Cue cheesy voiceover about how Carrie’s lost her virginity (to Manhattan. Nice try) and she feels so much more confident now.

Her sister Dorrit runs away from home and Carrie has an emotional breakdown. Followed by a speech from her dad that is so emotional that it would probably make Danny Tanner proud.

Mouse’s first ever boyfriend has clearly left her. He hasn’t called in two days. I seem to see the stirrings of the Carrie from SATC. You know, always there for her friends and super supportive.

The family together open and pack up their mom’s closet (which is huge by the way. Mrs. Bradshaw was a fashionista obviously. And pretty rich), as part of accepting that she’s actually gone.

What is this I’m watching? This show has crammed every possible teen pop staple into one episode; tragedy, fashion, virginity, trying to find who you are, high school dance, emotional speeches. I mean, that would be okay, if it actually gave us insight into how a popular character evolved and was hence made. This stuff isn’t anywhere near the other kind of prequels we’ve seen. Off the top of my head, prequels from The Wire and those never even got much attention. Yawns galore. Plus the TV screen gave off this glowy flourecent light, everyone wore sweaters and frills and everything was 80s and horrible.

Did I say 80s? God, the show just read my mind. Girls just wanna have fun by Cyndi Lauper in the background. Secretly gay boy is looking at a picture of Rob Lowe. Carrie is going to start journaling. Thrilling stuff. Truly fucking thrilling. I probably need some more butter with my potatoes. Sharanya Out.

All you need is love

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All you need is love

The quest for love sure is one of life’s biggest priorities. Unless you’re on television; then it’s pretty much your entire life and being. Television is full of optimistic, angsty and hopeless romantics that jump from relationship to relationship with funny and creepy results but they power through. Yes, they do.

They are almost all about 30 and their life comprises of endless hours spent at the neighborhood bar discussing their ever-changing love life with their friends.

The most recent ones to join the list is Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project. A doctor by profession, she lives on a standard fare of romantic comedies and believes she will find “The One” as long as she looks hard enough. The critics are pretty torn about this rom-com but three episodes in, I quite like it. It’s a bit typical what with the playboy who has a deeper side, the mean coworker who we secretly hope Mindy will end up with but there is room for good intelligent comedy and I can feel it coming. Also, I absolutely adore Mindy Kaling and will watch anything she’s in. And this show is produced, created, written and stars Kaling.

One of the most popular hopeless romantic of course is, Ted Mosby of How I met your mother that we have been watching since they invented the computers and let people write terribly lengthy scripts on. Mosby bravely (and stupidly) continues on his quest for love while drawing up a long list of what she’ll be like “oh, she has to love my lame jokes”, “oh, she must be a fan of my constant neediness and tears”.

Now, this elusive “one” leaves in its wake a bunch of really nice, pretty and normal people who seem to be dumped because of these character’s delusions.

Finding love and being happy forever? B-o-o-ring. But the constant hunt for one that starts with optimism followed by a disaster date that involves crap like she smiles weirdly, she doesn’t like hummus or she talks about killing her cats all the time and ends with a shrug and ‘eh, the one is still out there’ and more damn optimism.

If I went on as many dates as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, I’m pretty sure I’d probably run out people in Mumbai. Plus, be very broke (anyone notices how this writer never reads and never picks a guy who reads? C’mon, make out with Mr. Big and then discuss Hemingway. That would be hot! Also, I’m quoting Newsroom here, but I know Carrie must’ve made boatloads writing her eight-hundred-word column for a newspaper no one’s ever heard of).

All of these lovelorn characters have jobs that they barely pay any attention to, how can you when you spend half your day running into pretty men at the bakery and the other half obsessing over what she meant when she said “we need to talk”. You’d think after about a billion failed relationships, they’d know better.

My problem isn’t that these are unrealistic, it is television after all, but I’m tired of all of them being clones of each other. The idealistic talk of “all encompassing, unconditional love”, the stupid insights on love….the works. It’s always the same. Surely, the cynics who understand deadlines and dwindling bank balances also find love. Yup, they do. They just don’t spend as much time talking about it and crying on their friend’s shoulders at 3 am on weekday.

No coco on our channel

No coco on our channel

Let’s leave the terrible headline aside for now. Does anyone remember a show called Lakme Fashion House?  It was on Sony, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla judge a bunch of amateur designers? Donatella Versace judged the finale? Katrina Kaif and Yana Gupta who were just models then, walked the ramp? No? Ok, just me then.

Fashion is a rare commodity on Indian television. In terms of reality tv, Lakme Fashion House, a really bad designer hunt on Zoom and the most recent What not to wear India on TLC, fashion and the fashion industry is not part of the entertainment industry here. We have two fashion weeks in this country but no Project Runway, Tim Gunn’s guide to style, Fashion Police, The Rachel Zoe project or other such shows.

Apart from reality television, the fashion industry has stayed unrepresented even in feature television. The only one I can remember that came somewhere in the vicinity of close is Jassi Jaisi koi nahi, the Indian version of Ugly Betty where the lead worked in a fashion magazine. No Jane by Design, Veronica’s closet, Sex and the city or Gossip Girls who have fashion as an important element.

It seems like an entire industry is ignored by Indian Tv. It’s not that we aren’t a fashion conscious country. We count fashion designers as celebrities, everyone knows Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi, Masaba and Ritu Kumar, we talk a lot about what our Bollywood stars wear, everyone has an opinion on Aishwarya Rai at Cannes, we have a line of fashion bloggers aiming to be India’s Go fug yourself and yet it hasn’t permeated the entertainment industry as a whole.

TLC’s What not to wear India is hosted by Soha Ali Khan and Aki Narula who are supposed to be our version of Trinny and Susannah. Even if you haven’t watched their show, you might remember them from their appearances of The Oprah show where they’d ambush poor American women, rip off their mom-jeans and give them a makeover. Trinny and Susannah’s show is vastly better than our own version because a) it’s an hour long show b) it takes into consideration the personality of the women they are trying to make over c) Trinny and Susannah are just fun.

Soha Ali Khan and Aki Narula don’t understand the women they are trying to make over at all. Most of their participants at some point have mentioned some sort of insecurity, with their post-pregnancy bodies or from their obviously hotter sister, etc. But it’s just a fleeting moment, there is no deeper probing into the psyche of the woman who doesn’t feel beautiful enough or doesn’t think she has what it takes to pull of a girly dress. They don’t go into their house and see how they live. It’s like in last week’s episode of Project Runway, where Ven made an ugly and uncomfortable dress for a working woman who has children to take care of and a two hour commute to her office. You can’t be telling a woman to not wear comfy chappals if she takes the Churchgate local every morning. The point of a make over is to change how people think about themselves and what they think people perceive them to be. Half an hour is not long enough to do that. Also, the surprise element, the ta-dah moment when the woman revels her new self to her friends and family isn’t magical enough because I barely know or feel for her.

I am surprisingly passionate about this subject, considering I don’t give a fuck about clothes and will never stop wearing flip flops. But yes, give me good fashion on TV and I’ll just lap it up.

Awkward sex and Aamir Khan: Should you bother?

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Awkward sex and Aamir Khan: Should you bother?

Over the past week, I watched two new shows that have stirred much controversy, Here’s my take on them.

Girls

HBO’s new show Girls is about four girls living in New York City. There is a fat girl with an awful boyfriend, a pretty girl with an overly kind boyfriend, a virgin and a whore. Yup, friend group staples, of course.  Leaving the race and nepotism issues aside (because I don’t care about that), here are 5 reasons you should give HBO’s Girls a chance

1. If you like smart dialogues like “My medium baggage is that I bought four cupcakes and just ate one in your bathroom.” “What I’m having is a physical and inappropriate reaction to my total joy for you and your self discovery.”“I do explore, and right now I’m seeing this guy and sometimes I let him hit me on the side of my body, so…”

2. The characters, sometimes and in some moments, are completely believable.  20-year olds that deal with situations in a very insecure yet defiant fashion. Plus the protagonist is a chubby writer (ding ding ding).

3. If girl-centric shows are your guilty pleasure. (Every week I hate myself for watching New Girl and 2 broke girls, but I watch it anyway. This one’s a much better option.)

4. Lots of awkward sex. Finally, television acknowledges it. Finally.

5. It’s not Sex and the City

Satyameva Jayate

Aamir Khan’s much-awaited, much-debated, show airs on multiple channels in multiple languages. Two episodes down, here are 5 reasons, I watch Satyameva Jayate; you can use your own discretion with this one.

1. The cheesiness of the opening sequence and the overly emotional song at the end, though annoying, don’t take away from some of those stories the people on the show have.

2. We’ve forgotten that television still is a medium to create awareness. We might not care for the format or the set (that brick wall is eyuck) and the show may not change the world, but it might at least spark a thought in the minds of India’s large population.

3. Sure, NGOs and activists have been fighting against female infanticide and child sexual abuse for decades and now, just because a celebrity talks about it, it’s going to make a difference. I agree. But you cannot grudge Aamir Khan for using his ‘celebrity status’. At least he’s trying to do something with it. Bollywood has a major influence on us and sometimes, unfortunate as it is, it takes an Amitabh Bachchan to say “go get polio vaccines” for people to listen.

4. I’m a pseudo-cynic. I hope things will get better, and I hope someone will make it happen and I want to give this show that chance. Sure, many shows before have debated social evils, sure. But for whatever reason (they were English language shows, on channels that didn’t reach the masses, they didn’t have celebrities) they haven’t had an impact the way Satyameva Jayate has had. (I’m talking here, of course, about the Rajashthan government approving a fast track court for female feticide cases). Yes, he gets paid three crores, yes, there are aspects that aren’t focused on (What are the names of these illegal abortion clinics? And what is to be done when the parent is the sexual offender?) but he does get a lot of things right like…

5. The workshop at the end of episode two, where Aamir Khan teaches kids to differentiate good touch from bad, something most parents fail to do…wow.

– Sharanya

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