Four More Shots Please!, or what is being referred to as the Indian version of one of the most celebrated American series Sex and the City, is an Amazon Prime originals’ web series released worldwide on 25th January 2019.
It is written by Rangita Pritish Nandy, Devika Bhagat and Ishita Moitra and directed by Anu Menon.
Within no time the web series has gained immense popularity and is receiving overwhelming responses from all over. While the Quint called it ‘impressive’, ‘nicely filmed and well-edited’, Indian Express compared it to ‘old wine in a sleek and glamorous bottle’.
Others have used adjectives such as ‘empowering’ (Onplay News) and ‘sharp-edged’ (Scroll) to praise the characters, story and the overall concept of portraying four independent, flawed and unapologetic women.
The fact that is most difficult to digest amidst all this is that while Four More Shots Please! is assumed and continues to be popularized as a story breaking away from stereotypes, it in fact does just the opposite on screen.
Over the top, reviews have added their bit to further limit the potential of what to expect from a feminist artwork.
The web series portrays four privileged and unidimensional female protagonists named Anjana, a lawyer and single mother, Damini, an OCD patient and a ‘fearless’ journalist, Umang, a bisexual fitness trainer, and Siddhi, a victim of body shaming and online bullying, played by Kirti Kulhari, Sayani Gupta, Bani Judge, and Maanvi Gagroo, respectively.
All other women, apart from these four, are in some or the other way cause of the protagonists’ individual struggles. They are hated and even shamed by these ‘strong and independent’ female leads. Events such as Anjana shaming Kavya for not being able to drive counter-strikes the show’s motive of celebrating women supporting each other as this funding is selective in nature and not intersectional.
Moreover, throughout the first season, one never gets insights of lives of other female characters and when it comes to celebrating flawed women, the justification rule only applies to the four leads.
As aptly pointed out by Feminism in India website, the series does more to recreate stereotypes than moving away from them, with the chubby girl being the virgin, the bisexual being overtly sexual, the divorced mother being the one who has never explored masturbation, and the ambitious start-up owner being the obsessive-compulsive loner. And as it seems, the grey areas remain totally unexplored.
What is further very disappointing is the fact that the characters themselves often resort to sexism- either it be with their language or behaviour. This hits off from the first episode itself where Damini makes comments such as ‘the board needs to grow a pair of balls if they want to be in the news business’ or ‘little sissies!’ This further goes on to comparison of losing virginity to popping cherries.
Sure penis, vaginas and breasts are overtly sexualised by the society and needs to be talked about more openly, casually and less sexually, but that never really happens here.
To question someone about their penis size out of no context or to equate womanhood to vagina, boob or uterus- creates an umbrella for what every woman desires, which itself is a flawed concept.
To masturbate or not, to have active sex life or not was Anjana’s choice, which is made fun of by her friends. Siddhi’s virginity often gains her a naïve tag, either it be by her mother or her friends.
Indian Express compares Damini’s fantacies of having sex with Milind Soman as something that “many girls across the globe wants”.
No, sex is not all what every woman necessarily enjoys, or the only thing which every woman ‘must’ experience.
To appreciate this 2019 show for its resemblances with the 90s hit Sex and the City, is yet another regressive move. The two series do, however, share similitudes with four female leads developing a strong bond in a privileged elite urban setting, and also their consumerist nature.
We deserve better than this. We are better than this, to say the least.
Reviews are like toppings over a cake to attract or repel the audience. Too many cherries on the top hides the cake’s unpleasant ingredients.
Having said all this, what one will appreciate about this series, is primarily the fact that they decided to come up with a story celebrating female friendship in the era dominated by bro-code.
The exploration of Siddhi’s experience of falling in love with her body, Umang’s struggle of coming out of the closet as Pinky’s and Samara’s brawl for the same still continue, Damini and Siddhi’s combat with online harassment and bullying and Sneha comforting her daughter when everyone leaves her side is undeniably stimulating and totally relatable. We need more stories picking up these issues and stronger scripts promoting intersectionality.
A big shout out for bringing alive these experiences on screen, but if the upcoming seasons are not intersectional, give us no more shots please!