The Endless Void Of Pakistani Morning Shows

The Pakistani morning show era began in the late 1980s with Mustansar Hussain Tarar hosting a PTV show, Subuh Bakhair. This was followed by other morning shows when more channels started getting introduced in the country, all with their own themes and content that entertained people as they started their days.

It was all light and wholesome in the old days with everyone in Pakistan witnessing some good hosts to get inspired by. But that was before it all became a race of TRPs between t.v channels. Now when we hear the word Morning Show, there’s an intense level of dislike in some deeper parts of our heads. Because today, almost every other person, who has a decent level of awareness, perceives these morning shows to be nothing except a waste of time.

The shows that should’ve just existed to entertain people or make people learn something new have now become an annoying reminder of how far behind we are when it comes to quality content in our media. But when did it all change? What made these morning shows so saturated, and why is this saturation just getting stronger with every passing year? Let’s discuss the endless void of unnecessary debates that Pakistani morning shows have started glamorizing in today’s world.

The Golden Era of Morning Shows

Mustansar Hussain Tarar, also known as our country’s Chacha Jee, set the groundwork for a wholesome TV show host back in 1988, launching the first-ever morning show in Pakistan. His target audience mainly consisted of children who’d sit back to watch his show every morning before going to school, and he was lively at his interaction with this young audience. Subah Bakhair wasn’t only entertaining but also an informative show, catering to every section of the society from children to adults, women to men, literature to art to history lovers, etc.

Fast-forward to two decades later, Marina Khan also became a host for a morning show Marina Mornings on ARY Digital back in the 2007-08 era. Her aim was to present a positive image of Pakistan while also discussing several social issues and sharing information on different NGO services. Whatever stance she took, the t.v channel as well as the viewers were in support of it. It was a refreshing change from other morning shows where the topics were mainly gharelu totkay.

Nadia Khan

Then there was the Nadia Khan Show on GEO TV, a morning show even I used to watch. Nadia Khan was a lively addition to the genre of morning shows, hosting different celebrities from Pakistan as well as Bollywood. The amazing on-screen personality and positive vibes that she displayed were loved by all the guests and viewers alike and even if the games she introduced seemed senseless, they had an innovative, wholesome, and light touch to them. After a while, she introduced the concept of weddings on the show. It’s not that the trend was bad, albeit irrelevant, on Nadia Khan’s part, at least in the very beginning, but then other TV show hosts started catching up on this trend…

… and things started getting really weird.

The Wedding Bandwagon

The real downfall of these morning shows began when almost every host started jumping on this wedding bandwagon. Celebrities would sit with their spouses in these morning shows to ‘get married’ in a 3-5 day extravaganza where every wedding ritual would be performed by other celebrity guests, to be witnessed by the entire nation. You’d think it would all stop after one or two weddings, but no.

Wedding Bandwagon - Pakistani Morning Shows

Each wedding became shinier than the previous one, introducing new rituals, dance performances, best of Sven Studios in Adelaide‘s photos and what-not. And this wasn’t just happening on one channel, almost every other channel, with different morning shows and hosts, was getting increasingly involved in this fiasco without a second thought.

Celebrate Everything

But weddings aren’t where the celebrations stopped. Morning shows, once involved with the wedding trend, started celebrating every single event that came up. It was all fine when the celebrations were limited to Eid, after all, it’s a major event across the globe for all of us. But with the wedding trend came the reception then baby showers, birthdays, every single minor to major occasion in a celebrity, or even a common person’s life became a source of gaining TRPs for morning shows.

Celebrate Everything

Even all of that, most of us could ignore. PEMRA had placed some bans on what should and shouldn’t be discussed on these shows, so that means they’d stay within their limits, right? Well, we’ll get to this later.

Fashion Week and Our Complexion Obsession

Weddings, celebrations, games, cooking contests, housework tips; how did one get the idea to do all of this during the morning hours is beyond anyone’s understanding. But they did it, people responded in masses, and the trend grew. Then came the mini fashion weeks. At first, it was all about discussing what dresses the hosts and guests were wearing, which fashion designer was featured in which episode became more highlighted gradually.

Then came the boutique and makeup tutorials. And it would’ve been okay if the makeup tutorials just discussed a few tips and tricks and ended it there. But we’re a society obsessed with not just looking good, but looking fair while we do so or purposefully making ourselves darker. Hence, that’s what we witnessed in these shows too.

Our Complexion Obsession - Pakistani Morning Shows

Bringing women of lower-middle-class on the shows, using racist slang to describe them, and being shamelessly oblivious of their perplexed expressions or feelings. This is something every other morning show host became skilled at doing, with a panel of multiple makeup experts sitting around either encouraging this or commenting on it with their own levels of ignorant views.

The Race of How Insensitive Can You Get

Getting to the point of PEMRA limiting these shows from discussing certain topics, including things such as black magic and other immoral practices that go against our society’s values, or the personal lives of celebrities; none of the shows are following these limitation guidelines. And the race isn’t just of ratings, it’s about how insensitive you can get while you’re on the path to earning these ratings.

Bringing people on the show to question movements like feminism and harassment, bringing parents of a child who was abused and murdered and asking them how they found out about it, these are the more obvious ways of the inhuman insensitivity we seem to possess. The problem is that these views have always existed in one way or another with such a subtle tone that either no one clearly pointed it out, or ignored it for long enough that the host began to feel comfortable bringing such huge problems to light in such an insensitive way.

And even if the shows invited controversies through these tactics and were widely protested against, nothing was done about it.

But Why Does It All Work?

When so many drastic changes start occurring, the one question that comes to everyone’s mind is ‘why is this all working?’ Why are most of our morning shows capitalizing on introducing the most unnecessary form of content for the sake of views?

The truth is, we’re human. We have this natural tendency to cling to drama. These shows provide us with just that, and hence we become obsessed to watch more of it. The problem is that the shows are no longer limited to entertainment. They’re literally targeting sensitive issues and topics for the sake of creating drama. Pakistani morning shows are not developing rather increasingly regressing to display an unattractive part of our society’s mentality, and it’s being accepted. The goal isn’t to spread awareness or make the audience learn something new. It’s to gain ratings and have their channel rank on the top among competitors.

Pakistani morning show

One would argue that it works because the viewers want to watch all of this, but this argument can also be done in the opposite way: the channels show it that’s why people watch it; let me tell you, it all goes two ways. The target audience of these morning shows is housewives belonging to moderate backgrounds, hence the humongous amount of female-centric content. But is this insensitive and belittling tone and this unnecessarily glorified theme the only way women’s attention can be appealed to? Shouldn’t there be educative themes to such shows?

There are a tremendous amount of issues in our society that can be easily discussed through these shows. Issues that can teach people and provide awareness, and also provide motivation for people to achieve things in a better way. Instead, the only focus of these shows is to cross every limit of decency possible. And when there is a discussion about issues, it’s done so in such an insensitive way that you regret why these people have been given the spotlight to host on a nationwide platform.

Currently, the world of Pakistani morning shows seems like nothing but an empty void where every logic or sense of decency disappears the way universal particles do in a black hole. And it’s not just limited to morning shows, there are a number of other reality shows that fall under the same theme. The Ramadan transmissions as well as the game shows that can be found on almost every other local broadcasting channel; a lack of originality and a multitude of unnecessary content.

Although there has been a shift in the paradigm and the useless tactics introduced by such shows no longer goes unnoticed by people, it still isn’t enough. Even if everyone knows this content is negative and unnecessary, people are going to keep consuming it the more it’s provided. The argument that, “The bigger the demand, the bigger the supply” isn’t going to make it forever because people have already started saying ‘the bigger the supply, the more inevitable the demand becomes’. The responsibility isn’t only on the viewers to stop watching it, the bigger responsibility lies on the creators to stop producing such a mediocre level of content that only puts a question mark on the workings of Pakistan’s media industry.

The fallen standards these shows promote isn’t limited to our screens. It’s something everyone begins to consume and not just that but also get influenced by and utilize, further deteriorating the practices in our society. Every media house needs to take collective responsibility, and introduce a better, more educative and positive set of content that not only entertains but also makes people learn something. That’s the only way to growth for not just Pakistan’s media but also its citizens who are exposed to these shows on a daily basis.

Maha Abdul Rehman

A content writer and a psychology major, I procrastinate for 6 months or write consecutively. And I occasionally watch (see: obsess about) Football.

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November 22, 2020 12:47 pm

Once again Maha has written about a topic that needs to be discussed more and she’s written it so well as well. Morning shows are indeed becoming great contributors to our moral decline. Looking forward to reading more of her works in the future.

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