The clue is very much in the title – Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives is yet more vacuous, frivolous trash-TV on Netflix.
There will probably always be a market for trash TV, and Netflix will probably always exploit it. I mean, why not, at the end of the day? There’s big money to be made by wheeling out the most vacuous and insufferable people imaginable for the viewing pleasures of an audience who’ll happily sit and shout at the television about how awful everyone is. It’s cathartic, in its way, which is the only upside of Netflix India’s new reality show Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives, the clue to the nature of which is very much in the title.
Bollywood wives aren’t really analogous to, say, the real housewives of wherever – India’s film industry is bonkers in terms of its value and cultural prominence, so it’s much more similar to something like Footballer’s Wives, which you’ll recall was a scripted drama. As well as money there’s also a lot of creepiness and weird, borderline criminal behavior in Bollywood culture, a lot of odd traditions and bizarre obsessions. It’s well-suited to reality TV in the same way a multicar pile-up is well-suited to onlookers.
There’s never a time for fly-on-the-wall examinations of the absurdly privileged and self-absorbed, but a global pandemic seems an even worse time than usual. Then again, perhaps the distraction is appreciated. Either way, the fabulous lives of Bollywood wives Maheep Kapoor, Seema Khan, Bhavana Pandey, and others, who all mill about and gossip and do rich people things while displaying obvious awkwardness with being on camera, hardly seem like the best reminder that things in the world will eventually be okay again.
Perhaps they won’t be. Perhaps we’re hurtling towards a ruined future in which the moneyed and privileged will keep us as pets, and we’ll be in these shows ourselves, maybe in cages. That doesn’t seem like a fate all that worse from having to sit through this sort of thing.