The TV shows on South Indian channels have been receiving a lot of criticism lately for their sensationalist and melodramatic presentation and washing of dirty laundry in public.
The anchors who host the shows, though, have repeatedly said that they have no qualms about doing what they do because everyone comes to the show, knowing what to expect.
A few days ago, yesteryear actors Sripriya and Ranjini had lashed out against the "kangaroo courts" of regional channels. Ranjini had even posted pictures from "Nijangal" in which Khushbu, the anchor, can be seen holding a man's collar in the middle of a heated discussion.
But the dramatics in these shows are nothing when you compare them to American TV shows, from which the rest of the world takes its inspiration.
The Jerry Springer Show
If you get annoyed by Lakshmy Ramakrishnan going "Ennama ipdi panreengaley ma" on "Solvedhellam Unmai", you might have to be strapped into your chair to watch an episode of Jerry Springer.
The guests reveal "shocking" truths on TV, before a live audience, and more often than not get into a physical squabble too. And since it's American TV, the topics get far racier than they ever would on Indian TV. Adultery is a favourite topic and the guests exchange insults frequently.
Watch this episode in which a man tells his pregnant wife that she was so boring that he slept with the babysitte. Some things have to be seen to be believed.
Springer moderates the show, intervening with his own comments and perspectives. The audience can't get enough of it.
The baap of all trashy TV shows, "Bigg Boss" has its origins in the Netherlands but came to India after the success of the American "Big Brother". The premise of the show is to put together strangers under the same roof and make them decide which of them will be evicted according to the timeline set by the show.
"Bigg Boss" is popular in Hindi and other languages, including Kannada. The Indian versions are shocking for the average Indian viewer but you've seen nothing until you've watched the Western episodes with plenty of swearing, nudity, and yes, sex.
The Moment of Truth
This dramatic show has participants taking a polygraph test before they go on air. The questions asked are often very personal in nature. Typically, it gets into what people feel about their partners, who they've slept with and other scandalous details.
The responses are recorded and the same questions are put to the contestant when they are in the hot seat. An answer that's determined to be a lie by the polygraph machine gets the participant kicked out though they have the option to stop answering the questions and walk out without the prize money.
The show premiered in Hindi as "Sacch ka Saamna" but was stopped after objections were made to the content...before it could find its way to all South Indian regional channels!
The Biggest Loser
People are always looking for ways to shed kilos and it's not surprising that "The Biggest Loser", America's favourite weight loss show found its way to India.
The show is called "Biggest Loser Jeetega" in Hindi. A Tamil version titled "Olli Belly" became popular too.
Obese people are brought to the show and they compete on who can lose the most weight. The American show, however, has come under flak after a study found that its participants quickly regained all the weight that they'd lost when on the show.
There are other trashy American shows too which have become popular in Hindi - like "The Bachelorette" (inspired from "The Bachelor") - but are yet to make their way to South Indian TV channels.
For now, there are numerous spin offs of cooking contests (like "Masterchef), game shows ("Who wants to be a Millionaire?), talent shows ("American Idol", "America's Got Talent"), and the occasional make-over shows that are ever so popular in the West.
While many might find the melodramatic and invasive shows distasteful, their success world-over affirms that audiences everywhere enjoy the guilty pleasure of watching such content on TV. It also explains why producers are pumping money into recreating and adapting these shows for Indian audiences. In showbiz, everything goes as long as it sells and what's shocking by today's standards may very well become "normal" in a few years' time.