Masaba Masaba Exposes the Dark Side of Girlbossing

Pop Culture

Masaba Masaba Exposes the Dark Side of Girlbossing

Illustration: Arati Gujar

On the face of it, Masaba Masaba is a montage about the pink-washed, glamorous boss-bitch aesthetic that wants to give its audience a spunky dose of sass and gloss. It’s easy to get pulled into the luxurious details of the show but it’s wiser perhaps to pay attention to small strides the show makes in destroying that very aesthetic. The second season of Masaba Masaba starring Masaba and Neena Gupta is every bit fun and frivolous as it promised to be. It has a seductive love triangle, a lot of giddy fashion, an endearing mother-daughter relationship, and most importantly, a refreshingly original take on not only women, but specifically, working women.

Behind the splashy allure of being a boss bitch or the king as Gupta herself puts it, there’s also an attempt to pull the mask down on that same phenomenon, by commenting on the taxing cost of girlbossing. The ‘girlboss’, is a term wrapped in candyfloss paper of contemporary feminism, while in reality it is anything but. A girlboss is essentially a modern working woman, who climbs upwards in a male-dominated workspace where she is bogged down repeatedly. She is a career queen, who flaunts her power and assertiveness in bossing at both personal and professional fronts, while being delightfully messy, but in an aesthetic way that is ‘suitable for the gram’.

It has a seductive love triangle, a lot of giddy fashion, an endearing mother-daughter relationship, and most importantly, a refreshingly original take on not only women, but specifically, working women.

Directed by Sonam Nair the series shows that initially Masaba wants to be this boss bitch, who leans in, and does it all, while being a hot mess, but when both her personal and professional fronts collapse and the sense of self seems to fade, she is quick to discover that she doesn’t want to be a girlboss or a king, she simply wants to be herself. The series, without being preachy, tenderly depicts how the girlboss culture is deceptive in its appearance, because while it appears to champion women’s strength, in reality it infantilises women, and their ability to balance all facets of their life. You don’t see a term called, boyboss, do you? That is because, it’s normal for men to hustle and be powerful and authoritative, but for a woman to do so, is still an anomaly. Which is probably why this culture cajoles working twice, maybe even thrice as hard as their peers and look good while stumbling across the way.

The second season, delightfully shows the lives of two working women – one a divorced fashion designer struggling to be relevant in the age of social media fame and name, and the other an ageing actress who grapples with the shelf-life of heroines in films. In doing so, it depicts the hustle, only this time from the women’s perspective, and while it’s mostly a sparkling mess, it also sheds light on how women have to go an extra mile as compared to men. In this case, despite their privilege, both the mother and daughter have to face the brunt of being a woman at the end of the day, in a world where the status quo has always been favourable to men.

The series, without being preachy, tenderly depicts how the girlboss culture is deceptive in its appearance, because while it appears to champion women’s strength, in reality it infantilises women, and their ability to balance all facets of their life.

Kusha Kapila, who stars brilliantly as Nicole, Masaba’s pregnant PR agent, says that the designer has a boss-bitch inside her, and that is the side that they’ll sell to the audience. She tells her to get her claws out, and show the world that she is a king. It makes you wonder, if in portraying so, was Nair commenting on how the boss-bitch phenomenon was nothing but a marketable form of feminism, or does it really carry something of substance underneath the veneer of ‘crushing it’ on a regular basis (despite being a woman).

Masaba Masaba thankfully exposes an aspect of girlbossing, that most pop culture is married to at the moment. With its sardonic tone and treatment, the Netflix Original manages to accomplish this feat without being preachy and delivering chest-thumping lectures. It organically shows the repercussions of this messy and demanding lifestyle, allowing the viewers to interpret the meaning – which may also mean that some actually appreciate the messy yet sexy aesthetic of it all, while some see the subversion hidden within it.

Masaba’s delightfully disarming personality has contributed to the way the show feels authentic, and between the mother and the daughter there is plenty that the series offer for thought.

There are moments in the series when maybe the show indulges chaos for the heck of it but it does hold onto a keen understanding of the line between exhibiting a certain culture, and endorsing it. Masaba’s delightfully disarming personality has contributed to the way the show feels authentic, and between the mother and the daughter there is plenty that the series offer for thought. One of which is the truth behind the girlboss, or just why do women even have to become one to demand your attention?

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