Rewind to at least a decade before: The last Pakistani TV serials I sat through and just could not get enough of were Tanhaiyan, Dhoop Kinaray and Ankahi.  Names I am sure many are still familiar with. I remember getting attached to the characters, laughing at the funny and goofy moments, and even getting a little teary eyed.

Some of the characters were truly memorable and remain unmatched to this day. Who can forget the always nervous and spectacled Qabacha, the hilarious Sana Murad, the child philosopher Jibran. Timmy. Buqrat. Marina Khan’s breakthrough performance as Sanya. These serials celebrated all sorts of people especially strong independent women. A league of their own and brilliantly thought out and written.

I watched them at least a decade after they aired for the first time and still loved them all. I am fairly certain if the generation of today was to watch them, they too would connect and be entertained.  Timeless is how I see them. Aangan Tera, though was a little heavy for my then young ears, is yet another unmatched entertainer that no one can forget.

Fast forward to today – I had the chance to watch or rather glance through a few Pakistani TV serials recently. I don’t mean to put them down in any way; Pakistan is leaps and bounds ahead when it comes to acting skills by many of its counterparts.

However, every time a show was on, I could not tell if it was a different one from the one I saw yesterday or just an hour back. The same actors (extremely good looking might I add) are being recycled everywhere, which is alright. A good actor will always be in demand but they look the same as well as act the same character in all the serials.  And what of the story?

Every single show is centered around marriage. Literally. It’s like the Drama World and Pakistan have nothing else to do. Everything in life is routed towards that one aim, ambition and goal – to get married.  Okay, never mind, the aim of most Pakistanis is marriage as well and the shows only reflect that, but still.

“Bada hogaya hai, shaadi karado.”

“Bigarr gaya hai, shaadi karado.”

“Doctor ban gayi hai, shaadi karado.”

“20 saal ki hogayi? Shaadi karado.”

“Peeta hai? Shaadi karado.”

Step two is kids. A week after you get married, you are bombarded with “Are you pregnant yet? Still not pregnant? What are you waiting for?” After giving in to other’s demands and having a baby in record 9 months and 2 days; a month later you are bombarded with “Doosra bhi kerlo. Gap nahi rakho. Are you pregnant yet?”

So yes, if the society is such, it will reflect somewhat on the TV shows. Then again, the serials could go against the usual norm and actually do something different? Let’s challenge the masses shall we?

And how come it is always marriage to the khala’s son that the other phuppo wants for her daughter. The mother is never ok with it, but the father nearly always is but has no say.  The educated rich good looking independent boy; the eligible bachelor, a total catch, is engaged to rich khala’s  daughter (someone he doesn’t know) but then he sees another poor girl and falls for her instead; who also happens to be a cousin.

There are other people you can marry, you know! It doesn’t HAVE to be a cousin each time. Or maybe with so much trouble and drama, the TV serials are actually telling the audience – don’t marry in the family!

Nah, I didn’t think so either.

Then we come to the mothers in law; the bad ones are extremely evil, always rich and look good. They control their husbands who only speak up once in the end, right before they die or say they are walking out (they don’t though.) The simple mothers in law are poor and wear a dupatta on their head. And oh, the sons are usually mummy’s boys with the inability to think on their own. If mummy said so, then it must be true.

And what do we say about the female characters. Why are they always so fragile? In an episode, a girl completely broke down because her husband asked her to cook. I understand, she didn’t know how to cook, etc but really? This was the end of the world for her. In another, a husband could not take his wife to the doctors. And obviously, that meant the apocalypse had arrived prematurely.

The unwed woman is always bitter, so much so, she has made it a point to make life hell for everyone around her. The day she gets married, suddenly her words start dripping honey.

The successful woman will still marry a lying cheating scumbag “COUSIN” because ‘loag kya kahenge.’ Her own family and her in-laws will live off her money but constantly tell her how to live her life and she will listen like an itty bitty mouse. The minute she gets the chance to be happy with a person she loves, they (the powers that be) will turn that character into just another scum bag RIGHT at the end so she stays with her first scum bag husband who magically will become a saint over night.

Then we get to the women who love their men; their men who abuse them and don’t treat them well.  But somehow magically, their good looks usually means they can be loved no matter WHAT they do.

Here’s another one – man gets (yes gets) two wives, issues issues issues. D’uh!  Then suddenly it’s like the Fairy Godmother popped by, waved her wand and it became “they lived happily ever after.” Just like a switch. Really? One husband – two wives? Happily ever after?

I will still keep browsing in hopes to find a TV serial, where the women are strong willed (throughout the series) and aspire to became at the very least, something more than their preferably rich cousin’s wife.