Why do Indian TV serials suck?

Screenshot of Nagini — a horror TV serial on Star TV.

The young, educated audience don’t really consume India’s TV serials. They can easily get access to shows of the caliber of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. Then there is of course sports channels in plenty. They often tend to look down upon the regional language content and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

We could complain all day about Indian TV, but until we show an interest in moving away from US/UK TV, the TV producers are not going to take us seriously. And it is a chicken and egg thing. Until they produce good stuff, we are not going to watch it either.

Personally, I have not watched Indian TV in 20 years and don’t know anyone in my age group or below who watches Indian soaps. We live in a bubble and it is looked down upon if someone watches a desi soap.

The predominant audience are older people who need to be entertained with 8–10 hours of TV. The audience is conservative and that restricts the topics severely. There are only two real topics — family drama and mythology. Good mythology is expensive to produce and thus often a weekend attraction. What is left is family drama.

If producers have to do 8–10 hours of serials for 20 days a month in the same topic, they have to really stretch the things. Whatever little imagination they have is over-utilized and they are clutching at things.

Among the working class, the stereotypical daddy wants the news channel masala and the stereotypical mommy watches the serial masala. There is so much nonstop content going on in both categories, making them insane.

It was not always this way. When the educated audience watched the Indian TV [until the mid 1990s] — the TV content was very good. DD2 especially had plenty of content that was not restricted to new brides trying to kill their mothers-in-law and vice versa.

Economics made it possible for everyone to get access to TV in the 1990s and democracy took care of the rest to make sure to cater to the lowest common denominator.



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Balaji Viswanathan

Balaji Viswanathan

CEO of Invento Robotics. I help build the Mitra robot. Top Writer on Quora. Former Microsoftie and an active traveler.