Gender mores on Indian TV: The 'respectable' middle class and NDTV's the big fight
While India's booming entertainment channels are often examined for their lifestyle content, the nation's equally vibrant English-language news networks can also be read as offering lifestyle-oriented content and advice. Talk shows of both the controlled panel debate and the more interactive studio audience discussion variety often veer into social commentary, particularly on issues pertaining to the transitioning social values of the middle classes, including normative gender. In light of this, this article examines a recent love, sex and marriage-themed episode of leading news channel NDTV 24x7's debate-style talk show, The Big Fight. Such discussions are often cast among 'respectable' middle-class Indian households as being 'too forward' to watch with the family. Do the panelists on these shows simply articulate 'respectable' middle-class sentiments, or are they drawn from a wider social pool? What is the role of the host in re-mediating the material under discussion? How do studio audience questions impact on form and content? Most importantly, what role does such programming play in the ongoing transformation of gendered social norms among the middle classes in India today? These questions are considered within the broader framework of the transnational talk show genre and its appropriation in a specific instance in the contemporary Indian context.
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