MTV India's TV Series Showcasing ‪Homosexuality‬ and Same-Sex ‪‎Love‬ ‪

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MTV's relationships show The Big F ran its sixth episode this Sunday. Called "I Kissed a Girl", the episode explores a lesbian relationship. When I read about the episode, which seems to have become a sensation on social media, I was chary of watching it. Representations of gay identity on Indian screen, big or small, are laden with the most despicable stereotypes. The men are nearly always promiscuous sidekicks who have no role except to make the straight protagonist look good.
While that is bad enough, the representation of lesbians is worse. There is too much focus on the physical, in scenes that elaborate on the women's budding homosexuality with no attention paid to the emotional arc of the characters. The danger in such representation is that it does not educate but titillate, aimed as it is at heterosexual men eager to lap up images of women making out. An egregious film that comes to mind is 2004's Girlfriend, which had Isha Koppikar and Amrita Arora play lesbians. The movie was so devoid of any sensitivity in portrayal and so vicious in its branding of alternative sexuality it put me off representation of the homosexual in Indian film forever.

But things have gotten better over time. The Anouk ad from earlier this year showcased a lesbian couple who are due to meet the parents of one. It was a beautifully executed ad that made an emotionally fulfilling statement on such relationships. There have been other well-done LGBT representations on film in the recent past, such as the National Award-winning performance of Sanchari Vijay as a transgender in the Kannada film Naanu Avanalla Avalu.
So it was with optimism-flecked trepidation that I watched The Big F episode. And while the show can certainly do with better production values and finer acting, I think it did okay overall. It was tacky, yes, and it was not as politically correct as I would have liked. But I speak as a gay man so my expectations are different. To a receptive straight audience, it would work because it was not burdened with unnecessary drama and stereotypes.
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