Ladies Room is a new webseries that masters toilet humor. No, not the kind of toilet humor that your youngest nephew and your oldest uncle enjoy the shit out of. It’s real toilet humor—the kind of weird and specific humor that often surfaces in the intimate, albeit disgusting, confines of a restroom. The webseries opens in a grimy women’s bathroom aboard a train from Mumbai to Goa. All six episodes—which explore the close friendship between two young Indian women—take place in bathrooms. The two friends, Dingo and Khanna, go to the toilet to get high and deal with their shit: unexpected pregnancies, financial woes, workplace drama. Ladies Room was produced by Y Films, a youth division in the Bollywood production company Yash Raj Films, and was featured in a recent Mashable story about women-centric Indian webseries that are popping up around the web.
Speaking with Mashable, head of Y Films and Ladies Room producer Ashish Patil said, “We’d been wanting to do a show set in a single location for a while, and one that featured two interesting and fun female characters—which is a big hole generally in the entertainment landscape in our country.”
Bollywood shares Hollywood’s shortcomings when it comes to representing women on-screen—something that the Indian illustrator Shivani Gorle is trying to shed light on with her Queens OnScreen art project. But just as webseries like Full Movie Here are challenging Hollywood’s sexism, Indian writers and filmmakers are also using the internet to make more inclusive and radical works. Content creators like the people behind Ladies Room are trying to fill the gaps left by Indian television and Bollywood by telling more diverse and nuanced stories about women.
Ladies Room was written by Neha Kaul Mehra and Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, who used their own experiences as Indian women to inform the storylines and tone of the show. “After watching movie after movie depicting male friendship, I began to craft these two characters in my head who reflected the women I have known and have been,” Mehra told Mashable. “It’s always bothered me that Indian cinema, and more recently TV, never took women seriously. We’ve been offered sorry pastiches of what women ought to be, but seldom who they are in the real world.”
Dingo and Khanna’s friendship is also a crucial component of how Ladies Room subverts gendered tropes. “Well the depiction of their friendship certainly fills a large and embarrassing gap in Hindi film and TV,” Mehra said. “The deliberate decision was we wanted to make a show that featured two women friends without falling into the clichés of ‘divine sisterhood’ or making some ceremony out of their kinship.”
Mashable also highlights Alisha, a stylish crime thriller about an Indian woman who teams up with her best friend to solve a high-stakes mystery after she’s wrongly accused of a drug crime. There’s also Confessions: It’s Complicated, a webseries about three young women who come to Mumbai from different regions of India to begin their professional careers at the same large company. Quantico’s Priyanka Chopra—who really should be on the short list to play James Bond—recently co-produced and guest-starred in the 14-part sitcom It’s My City, which was made for the digital video mobile app NextGTv. Don’t make the mistake of waving these works off as a trend. They’re a very targeted response to the real problems within mainstream global media and the shortage of accessible and realistic narratives about women.