Cringe and chill.

Someone on Twitter wanted a piece on cringe-binge shows. And while I am no expert here, I do love a horribly cringey fun show every now and then. It did however bring up questions as to what side of me (us) does it appeal to, what need of mine (ours) does it tick?

Was it the eye candy in Emily in Paris? Not all of it, I practically felt like slapping some sense into a few of the extremely good-looking guys in there, but Chef Gabriel had my heart. The broody, intense finding-his-way-in-life guy. After the many Imtiaz Ali movies who wouldn’t like a confused but good-looking dude, enough to carry an entire show on his shoulder. I say, bring on some more cringe now.

Was it the blatant honesty bordering on rudeness in The Fabulous Lives Of Bollywood Wives. Hell No. My entry to the show was Neelam, I stayed on for Seema. One character who is a favorite from a long time ago; and one character who practically grows up on the show through the chaos and finds her own voice. They made me want to tolerate Bhavna and Maheep. Plus the stunning (when not garish) wardrobe and jewellery was a pleasure to watch. No, not on Karan Johar.

Was it the superficial and extra-fake Seema aunty in Indian matchmaking? I am not even going to answer that. It was Nadia’s story that made me stick through the first episode and move on to the next. But more, it was the sheer audacity some of the candidates had in terms of their expectations and how it only got worse through the journey. And knowing that there are real people like that out there (been there, done that, in terms of meeting people in an arranged marriage set-up) plus the fact that they still do find a match and get their happy ever after. Yes, it played to my sappy heart in some way.

The two big hooks to all of them though:

⁃ Would I have watched any of these if not for the word-of-mouth hype from friends? Big no, because there’s something to be said for familiar and credible cringe.

⁃ Would I have watched any of these if not on Netflix? Big no, because even cringe has some class and needless to say, Netflix brings an A-grade to cringe.

As sub-genres on the platform go, cringe and chill seems to be working so far 🙂

Notes to 2020.

Death to 2020 @ Netflix was sheer sarcastic brilliance. Much like a lot of what I saw on social media this year was.  I laughed more than I should have, at both on-screen and off-screen drama and yes, am grateful that I had the comfort of a couch and some popcorn to up the entertainment quotient while some real shit was happening outside. Needless to say, none of it takes away from the seriousness of the curveball life threw at us this year and many others who weren’t as fortunate.

This was the year I saw activists emerge in full glory on social media. I still for one, can’t understand the logical reasoning behind all that aggressiveness. How is liking 20 tweets or posting 20 things of the same kind starting from a gentle nudge to hardcore accusations going to get people to even remotely listen to your perspective? Besides, what even is the point of just loud armchair activism? What am I missing here?

This was the year I saw trolls emerge with zero pretence whatsoever on social media. Being deliberately nasty at a time when people are just doing their best to get by on a day-to-day basis, you have got to be really twisted in your heart. I have no words for you.

However, this was also the year I saw kindness and quiet strength emerge in the way people coped with the shit-show around. Resilience won the day time and again.

Final words on 2020, because sometimes even we give in to the hype around writing notes to the year that was. No, 2020 was not a year of reset for me. It was the year I rested.

Halfway into the year I lost my job and while it was very disappointing initially, it gave way to a long due break. The first three months were spent in the sweetness of not knowing what I wanted to do next – from one hour to the next, one day to the next, one week to the next. I cooked, I baked, I went for long walks, I clicked photos of anything that caught my eye, I read books, I read blogs, I experimented with making cocktails, I learnt about wine, I shifted preferences to white wine, I read about my industry, I read about interesting people not from my industry, I watched loads of shows and movies, I wrote bits and pieces whenever I felt like. No agenda, no purpose but just pure zen and therapy. After close to 13 years of working our asses off, upskilling and networking could wait for a while.  I was even lucky enough to land a project for the next 3 months, one that pushed my boundaries of thinking, while still giving me the space to continue my other interests.

It was most definitely a year of feeling and expressing deep deep gratitude for all I have, especially family and close ones, and good health. Touch wood.

So, to wrap what has been an unusually fulfilling year personally, my top three’s:

  • Cooking and Baking – Momos (steamed, pan fried, soups), Patra (stuffed colocasia leaves), Focaccia (normal tomato, cherry tomato, heirloom tomato)
  • Books – Remnants of a Separation, Park Bench, Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed
  • Gen entertainment Shows – Salt Fat Acid Heat (Netflix), The Morning Show (Apple TV), Street Food Latin America (Netflix)
  • Movies – Little Women (Netflix), If Beale Street Could Talk (Netflix), Unpaused (Amazon Prime India)
  • Cringe Binge shows – Indian matchmaking (Netflix), The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives (Netflix), Emily in Paris (Netflix)
  • Blogs – A Cup of Jo, LaTonya Yvette, Apartment Therapy
  • Wines – L’etincelle Pays d’Herault (Chenin Blanc, France), Villa Loren (Amarone, Italy), Maria Camilla (primarily Sauvignon Blanc, Italy)
  • Homemade Cocktails – Negroni, Paloma, Sangria
  • Instagram handles – @words.and.other.comforts (shameless plug), @saffrontrail, @newyorkercartoons
  • Twitter handles – Sayantan Ghosh@sayantansunnyg, Pomp@APompliano, Wine Folly @WineFolly

On that note, 2020, we were okay. 2021, may the force be with you but for now, continue to wear a mask please 🙂

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