While I am a self-proclaimed Bollywood fanatic, I never warmed up to Indian TV shows. In the days of Doordarshan (my entire school life, because our parents refused to get cable TV), the only things we watched were Duck tales and Tales Spin on Sunday, and a bit of ‘Shanti‘ in the afternoons. It was only in our summer vacations when we were visiting cousins in Hyderabad and Bangalore, did we catch glimpses of ‘The Small Wonder’ and the ‘Wonder years’ and ‘Crystal Maze’.
Then sometime in class 10, when we made a visit to Bangalore, my cousins, I realised had moved on to F.R.I.E.N.D.S. This had to be in 97/98, when the show was maybe at it’s best. I watched a couple of episodes but couldn’t obviously make head or tail of it. Also, I had to go back home to Rangoli and Chitrahaar soon anyway, so there was no point getting too attached to Ross and Rachel.
So my true introduction to American television was in 2000. The television at my aunt’s was pretty much in my control from 9 PM, owing their early dinner habits. And this was also the time when K serials had made a big entry – which meant every Indian channel, Star, Sony, Zee would be playing some version of the same Saas-bahu drama. This is when I met Star World. Now Star World would play reruns of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and Full House (with the very hot Uncle Jessie) every night. And I was hooked. I think in those three years, I only watched these shows, and maybe a little bit of Sienfeld and Everybody Loves Raymond. There was also a deep, dark phase when I actually succumbed to the K-series and watched one particular show, Kutumb, from the beginning to the end. Fortunately, this show lasted only a year and a half, unlike it’s decade long counterparts. Which meant it was back to alt+tab -ing between Star World and the music channels soon after.
Then, I went to K. Now a B-school experience is incomplete without night-outs, many of which are dedicated to binge-watching movies and shows, and some to group assignments. But torrent downloads at the time were strictly prohibited, so we had to depend on the beloved IT committee to get us the ‘stuff’ using Kazaa. This was 2003, when F.R.I.E.N.D.S. was I think starting it’s final, 10th season. And since all of my previous F.R.I.E.N.D.S. watching was heavily in bits, across whatever seasons India got, I had hit a treasure trove of television content to fill my head with.
And fill I did. I am trying hard to remember, but I think this was the only show I watched on campus, over and over again, apart from a truckload of movies. I still remember how we waited for the finale to be aired so that IT Comm would download and share it. And I also remember being all misty eyed when it ended, because an era had come to an end. So much love, that I even watched the first few episodes of the spin off Joey, which by the way, wasn’t a good idea.
When I moved in with flatmates, we all had our TV favorites. One of my flatmates loved one particular K serial so much, she would keep an alarm from 2:00 AM, to watch the rerun because we would invariably come home only after 9. But we also shared common loves. It was in this era when I started watching The OC, One Tree Hill, Desperate Housewives, and finally, my long standing love – Grey’s Anatomy. While the others I am pretty sure I have missed episodes of here and there, Grey’s was too respected to be watched as a mish-mash. And I kept it going on and on, as they kept killing off all the favorites (because they had a tiff with someone else on the sets), or sending them away to Switzerland (because their contract ended), and even devised mass contract terminations via convenient air-crashes – until finally, they killed Derek Shepherd. This is when I ended my relationship with Seattle Grace aka Grey-Sloan memorial for good.
The Dude and I also, by the way, bonded heavily over TV shows. Only, he wouldn’t watch the ones I listed above (he gave ONE episode of Grey’s a shot, ONE), so we had our own set to binge on. In fact, all that I watch is clearly demarcated as ‘With The Dude’ and ‘Without The Dude’. Yes, the latter category has dwindled alarmingly and now stands at Masterchef Australia, This is us and The Mindy Project, but the former has performed exceedingly well. But there was once a Gossip Girl phase, and a Pretty Little liars phase (this when I used to spend HOURS feeding my baby) – none of which The Dude has a clue about.
Together, we started with F.R.I.E.N.D.S reruns. In fact, watching these shows together became a ritual – mostly one for Saturday nights. We get our drinks out, snacks set – and watch till we drop – literally. While we have tried doing movies too, we realized that nothing goes better with drinks than Sitcoms, or thrillers, but mostly Sitcoms. Somewhere around 2008, we started with and then lived through the entire series of How I met your mother – loving it, liking it, being bleh about it and then hating the ending. We also started Modern Family together – which is something we haven’t tired of yet – and we seem to be growing older along with the characters. There was also Big Bang theory, that we gave up on somewhere after the season where Howard marries Bernadette.
We joined the Breaking Bad bandwagon and completed it one go – the Dude being absolutely smitten by it, while I maybe more than liked it – but did not love it. On the television, we always watched Mentalist, Castle and Bones, but as and when we had the time, not in the chronological order. We started Suits, and dropped it after season 3- and have every reason to pick it again – but most importantly because it is available on Amazon Prime. We pursued Homeland with some serious seriousness, and absolutely loved it. Then Brody died and we gave up. But we did revisit it again and plodded on for one more season – the one with the Indian kid in it – only when that ended, the reviews for the next season were so terrible that we decided to leave it. Somewhere in between, we were crazy about Sherlock – still are – only the gaps between the 3 episode seasons are too long.
In the meantime, we had found other funnies – Brooklyn nine-nine, and Fresh off the boat. Both of these keep us highly entertained, but with the advent of Amazon Prime and Netflix, they have taken a backseat to the easily available shows online. Netflix we only kept for the free one month, because despite the amazing, our middle class upbringing still makes it seem expensive. In this one month we watched Stranger Things – the show we got Netflix for. We followed this up with Narcos – another amazing series. And then we closed it with Broadchurch, our slight diversion into British television. Impressed with Stranger things and all things paranormal, we started watching Fringe – first through downloads and then on Prime. It showed great promise with it’s parallel universe angle, but eventually, the thrill died down.
And in came Reese from Person of Interest. This was yet another show we couldn’t get enough of, watching episode after episode, season after season – till we finished it – heartbroken, but satisfied. We decided it was now time for something light, so we kept trying shows on prime – Fleabag, Shameless – till we came across the old, old 30 rock. I must mention here that I have missed yet another gem while I list out our TV experience, and that is Parks and Recreation – we still haven’t finished the show – because there is a sort of safe, secure feeling that we have something to go back to. So yes, from Amy Poehler, we moved on Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, and all the amazing characters 30 Rock had – until last week we finished the 8th season.
Life (our TV life) was in a sort of rut for a while – but we had heard about the new season of Stranger things and I was practically dying to watch it. So that’s what we did – first, registered on Netflix for another month, and then, spent the whole of last weekend watching the 9 episodes – till happiness prevailed. And we are currently on the look out for anything new we should definitely watch. In fact, this whole post was started because I came across this article about Netflix’s best thriller for this year. Ofcourse, I immediately shared it with The Dude and he responded with a – Starts tonight. Yeah, we are quick like that.
And now that you have an extensive data set explaining all that I like, we like, we hate, or find bleh, I would love for you to analyse and provide any suggestions you might have. Anything you think is a must watch, or atleast worth a shot. And please it make it a bit fast, because I think what we have shortlisted will not last us more than a week or two.
Like I said, we are quick like that.