Not since Sex And The City ended has there been a group of women in television so obsessed with the vagina. Across both seasons of Four More Shots Please, women are either talking about waxing it, yelling about it on Marine Drive, giving it pet names, coming up with synonyms for it and even imbuing it with human emotion. No really, at one point, someone even says: Your ‘veevee’ is crying. This one-track fixation extends to when one of the women says she’s late – the other three immediately assume she’s talking about her period and not a meeting she needs to leave for.
Frivolous as it is, the show’s brand of first-world feminism isn’t the issue here, however. It’s about time frank discussions about female pleasure and female anatomy became mainstream. What’s counterproductive is the clumsy way season 1 went about it. How is talking to your vagina out loud and asking if it can shoot out ping pong balls at a bar meant to facilitate some downtime (pun intended) with it? And while the intent behind reclaiming female sexuality is noble, maybe yelling about your genitals publicly isn’t the best way to go about it? What could’ve opened up avenues of discussion about women’s issues became opportunities to dismiss them instead.
Season 2 attempts to counteract the frivolity of its predecessor, but while there’s less cringe, there’s also little finesse. Some issues are tackled with an earnestness that borders on spoonfeeding – a character Googles, then reads aloud the symptoms of bipolar disorder to highlight its seriousness. Damini’s (Sayani Gupta) miscarriage is depicted with somberness, but its aftermath brushed aside. If there’s a moment that really works, it’s one that breaks down the ridiculous misconceptions associated with tampons.
Season 2 eschews these complex conflicts between women and makes men the easy target. The caricatures are in place
Beneath the gloss of season 1, an interesting pattern began to emerge – was the series stealthily making a point about how women are often the worst enemy of women? The evidence seemed to suggest so. When Umang (Bani J) is groped at her place of work and retaliates by hitting her assaulter, her (female) boss is more preoccupied with whether the gym could be sued for violence against a customer. Siddhi’s (Maanvi Gaagroo) body image issues and low self-esteem stem from a lifetime of being bodyshamed and taunted by her own mother. To a pettier degree, Anjana (Kirti Kulhari) pushes her former husband’s new girlfriend’s cake off a table out of pure jealousy. This comes to a head during the final episode of the season – the women turn on each other, adopting the language of patriarchy and accusing each other of (among other things) being too sexually active and not sexually active enough.
Season 2, however, eschews these complex conflicts between women and makes men the villains. The caricatures are in place – the sexist boss who promotes the fledgling male employee over the qualified female one, the cheating husband who complains his pregnant wife’s morning sickness and back pain is getting in the way of their sex life, yet another cheating husband who lies about his marriage being an open one. At one point, a male comedian literally insults Siddhi into choosing a stand-up career of her own.
If not for the chemistry of its four leads, Four More Shots Please and its underdeveloped, easily solvable conflicts wouldn’t work as well. For a series that makes much of its four women finding their own voice (one walks out of a marriage she doesn’t feel valued in, another fights back against a male-dominated industry), it’s yet to find a tonality that really lands.