Did you catch the final episode of the recently concluded season of Bigg Boss? Never mind if you didn’t because over 7.3 million viewers still did.
Any season of Indian television’s most controversial show Bigg Boss can claim the title of being the most talked-about voyeuristic reality show. However, ardent fans of the show would agree that the 13th season of the show takes the cake like none other.
Even the recently concluded finale, in which Siddharth Shukla was crowned winner, caused a lot of noise especially because avid viewers were aware that Siddharth’s behaviour in the Bigg Boss house was far from exemplary — even by the standards of a show such as Bigg Boss,which by default, thrives on fights and spats in the house. In fact, many even agree that Siddharth was probably one of the most aggressive, abusive and mercurial contestants.
The draw of voyeurism
Ironically, even though no one likes to see neighbours or friends bickering, Bigg Boss has managed to keep people from different demographics hooked to this show for 3-4 months almost every year since it first aired in 2006.
Despite naysayers of the show criticizing it because of the disturbing behaviour it displays on national television, none can contest the viewership it garners, which only skyrockets, always! Even this season, viewership rose despite there being hardly any episode in which contestants didn’t engage in disruptive behaviour. As per data released by BARC India, the show got the highest viewership, with close to 7.3 million impressions — those figures, by the way, are just from the second week of the show alone, from 11 January to 17January. As controversies and spats in the house grew through the rest of the weeks, the numbers only shot up further.
Chandana Das, a 59-year-old homemaker, began watching the show with her son and daughter-in-law. When asked about why she likes the show, she says, “We have seen these faces on TV, in series and other shows. Bigg Boss gives us a rare chance to get to know the people behind these faces, on a daily basis bringing out the real nature of humans, which is very interesting to watch.”
What Chandana sees as an all-access pass to clear her intrigue on ‘celebrity life’, Shahamat Hussain, a professional in the city, sees as an escape of sorts. “Honestly, you get a taste of different personalities you may never encounter in life for such sweet-and-sour experiences. Also, it’s a kind of sad joy and an escape from an ordinary life we lead. We go to our offices, drive around or go to purchase groceries. But these celebs need only exist and be camera ready,” says Shahamat of his guilty pleasure.
While those are largely the most common reasons about enjoying reality television, the show’s haters are justified in questioning those who derive their entertainment from such a show. However, we wonder if there is perhaps something more to wanting to watch the show apart from the attraction of seeing badly behaved celebrities.
Rohit Kumar, an engineer by profession, has a different, yet interesting take on the show. “If we look at Bigg Boss as a microcosm of the interpersonal relationships observed in real life, we can make sense of what people gossip about,” he says.
On the other hand, L. Rucilli Devi, a young professional who is an avid fan of the show, questions the severe criticism that certain sections subject the show to. “I started watching Bigg Boss because my mom used to watch it. Of course, I understand the behaviour in the show can be problematic, but the actuality is that people do behave like this in real life, too. There are films and TV shows that are far more violent and disturbing, so I do not really get the criticism. But most importantly, the show is damn entertaining and quite addictive once you start watching probably because of the voyeuristic nature of it, even if I know that half the things are scripted,” she says signing off....