20 changes we want to see on the small screen in 2021

From toning down drama and showcasing more comedies to making better reality shows, here are some of our suggestions.

As we begin the new year, here’s a look at 20 different ways in which the television industry can break from the monotony of tear-jerking and yawn-inducing soap operas and scripted reality shows and give the audience a better dose of entertainment.

1. Never ending dramas: We understand there’s business involved, but no one has the patience to watch one story for years. It’s time producers made a resolution to create limited-episode shows and bring about that much-needed change on television.

2. Progressive shows: While women are racing ahead and breaking barriers in real life, most of our TV shows still have them in their pallus, trying to be the perfect bahu. Let’s hope 2021 is the year television shun stereotypes and embrace the changes around them.

3. Tone down melodrama: Nahin, nahin, nahin – we all know about this iconic TV moment, popularised in the 2000s. Two decades down the line, while the camera doesn’t zoom close to faces anymore, the melodrama is the same, or, in fact, even more. We still have spoilt children trying to arm-twist gullible parents, bahus suffering at the hands of in-laws, or a sautan plotting against her husband’s first wife. Spare us the horror, guys!

4. Unreal reality shows: It’s not just fiction on television that needs to become ‘real’ but also non-fiction. Most reality shows today are scripted and that just spoils the viewing experience. From sob stories of contestants, hosts flirting with judges or doing buffoonery to over-the-top-drama and fake affairs among contestants, the charm of reality shows are long gone, it seems.

5. Sustaining marquee properties: Not many reality shows in India have been around for years. Hence, it’s important to remember their core and sustain these marquee properties. For example, a show like Bigg Boss has seen such drastic changes in the last few years that it’s no longer interesting for viewers. The beauty of such shows lies in its unique format, and altering it, mostly doesn’t go down well. So makers, take a leaf or two out of the original rulebook and get the magic back, please.

6. Force-fitting popular faces: Getting a well-known television actor as a host or a Bollywood star as a judge may seem quite enticing but it is more an act of force-fitting, making the show unbearable to watch. In recent times, we have seen Kareena Kapoor (Dance India Dance), Raveena Tandon, Chetan Bhagat (Nach Baliye) fail with their small screen appearances. And that was only because they looked out of place. Next time, stick to the experts and don’t run after popularity.

5. More Bollywood stars on the small screen: Most television stars want to see themselves on the big screen someday, but why not have it the other way round. We have had Karisma Kapoor, Anil Kapoor and even Amitabh Bachchan do fiction shows, but it’s all in the archives now. Wouldn’t you love to see a good TV show headlined by a big B-town celeb?

8. Creating content for an international audience: Indian television shows are watched across the world, but only by Indians. When a Money Heist or a Narcos could feature among the most-watched shows in our country, then why can’t we make shows for an international audience. We have the talent, brain and resources. It just seems that most of us are too lazy to think big.

9. Biopics: Television is one medium that reaches every nook and corner of the country, and what better way to do it than bringing inspiring stories to the audience. There have been a few historical shows on television, but we haven’t had the story of any modern-day hero or idol being showcased on the small screen. The youth could so easily be lured to television through such shows.

10. Small town stories: While we need real-life stories, we have had enough of small-town dramas on television. A heroic figure in a village fighting all kinds of evils is no doubt inspirational, but too much of anything is not good. Even if one has to create a humble universe, try a different narrative, at least!

11. Comedies: It is the need of the hour (or year). Most GECs earlier had a long list of sitcoms. However, now, there are hardly any shows that offer light moments. Most viewers switch on TV for a break from their mundane lives and what better way than to watch some fun-filled shows.

12. Youth based dramas: Another comeback that we want in 2021 is youth-based shows. After Channel V and MTV stopped making original fiction, youngsters have nothing to watch on the small screen. It is the biggest reason why most of them switch to the digital medium. GECs should start reaching out to Gen-Y with relatable content.

13. Vamps: No one, we repeat, no woman is as evil as shown on television shows. Add to that is the over-the-top makeup and background score, ala the one that played whenever ‘Komolika’ appeared on screen. Before we talk about real and progressive shows, we need to chuck that evil bhabhi/aunty out of the frame.

14. Kitchen drama: Let’s also get done with kitchen politics and drama. The place is sacrosanct for foodies, and show makers have destroyed it for us.

15. Real events: Why don’t we have a TV show around the ’83 World Cup win? Or the ISRO achievements or the Mumbai 26/11 attack? When we can have the same on cinema and web, why not the small screen as well? Given that television has a longer time frame, it can go in-depth and bring to light some moments around these events that viewers may not be aware of.

16. Dating shows: There are several mobile apps to find a date, yet makers keep pushing shows around the same concept. And given that these contestants become overnight social-media stars, participation is also high. But who wants to see fame-hungry youngsters flaunting shapely figures and making desperate moves on each other? Also, given that the world knows that it’s all scripted, can we use the time and resources for better and more meaningful content than this cringe-fest?

17. Book adaptations: A few weeks back, India got one of its best web series in Scam 1992, which was an adaptation of journalist Sucheta Dalal and Debashish Basu’s 1992 book The Scam: Who Won, who Lost, who Got Away. Given that we have so many great pieces of literary fiction and non-fiction, television producers can pick some good stories off the bookshelf.

18. Bank of episodes: This is a change that the entire industry should work towards. Most TV producers and writers complain that the lack of creativity is because of the tight schedule. The makers of a lot of serials would even shoot a night episode in the morning. There should be a rule whereby a show goes on air only after there are several episodes in the bank so that the makers have the time and liberty to work on the script.

19. Breaking the indoor frame: Most television shows revolve around the four walls of the house, and it is high time we broke that mould. Even when shows start on an outdoor location, the camera soon pans back to the lead protagonist’s house. It’s time we started creating more space for outdoor shoots.

20. Travel shows: Talking about travel shows, don’t you think we need them back on television? The current scenario (read: pandemic) has forced the cancellation of vacation plans. Therefore, GECs could keep a small window open for travel shows as they would definitely satiate the wanderlust.

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