A few Indonesian TV gems

Although I haven’t had a TV set since moving to Singapore, TVs hold a really special place inside my heart. I grew up in front of the TV set, watching cartoons like Mighty Mouse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tom & Jerry, Flintstone and all that crazy stuff.

Sure having the Internet and its videos-on-demand now is convenient since I’m able to watch anything I want. But I still like TV programs because it forces you to watch things that they want you to watch, not what you choose. (Well, you can choose what you want to watch but that’s an illusion of choice.)

So while we were in Indonesia, I watched more TV than I did the entire first quarter of the year. On nights when we weren’t out watching live-action plays, we were cooped up in the room with the stupid box because the public transport stops quite early.

From those few nights (and sometimes day) of TV, I had a glimpse of the wonderful world of Indonesian TV.

Morning TV

Aerobics for the stay-at-home wives

The morning shows and commercials were blatently targeted at insecure housewives.

Toilet cleaners, floor cleaners, massagers to sooth all those fats away and aerobics show.

Yes, each morning, a lady and her posse would lift their legs in unison as the headlady shouts for them to twist their waist harder.

Julia Perez

The one thing I was really really surprised about Indonesian TV is how open (or maybe I should say, sexually liberated) the shows are. Not in the sense that they have bed scenes every half hour but they have women in short skimpy dresses almost every half hour.

Here comes my favorite TV personality–Julia Perez (or Jupe for short). The first tiem I saw her, I asked D to confirm if the lady on TV was a drag queen.

She was overly femme–sexy long hair, busty, perky butt and long legs covered by only a short skirt. She even joked: “Why does no men want me, despite all that I have?”

Later, we found out that she was part of this three-sexy-women group. Her role on the shows were for comedy effect and as a contrast to the other more demure lady personalities.

I think she left a deep impact on me because she embraces her sexuality.

The Bachelor, with mothers-in-law

Besides the scandalous Jupe, another of our favorite (or is it grotesquely fascinating) show was one we titled ” The Bachelor, with mothers-in-law”.

We first watched the show on our third night, at Manohara Hotel. The narrator told us that the reality TV show brings seven old ladies together in a house for more than 100 days. They would chose one of the girls among seven as the bride of the mothers-in-law’s son.

Instead of a 10 girls clamouring for the attention of one men. We have seven girls, seven men and seven moms-in-law. Their FB relationship status must be: It’s complicated.

The girls must not only please the men but the moms. In the end, it’s down to ONE mother-in-law to chose ONE girl for her ONE son.

Why do I keep mentioning the females girls? Because, they are. One girl was 21 years old while the men were past their mid-30s.

The girls were kept in a house called “The Quarantine House”. They had to sing at a dining table in broad daylight waiting for one of the moms to visit. They also have stuff like “Date in the Dark” and masked balls to decide which male they want to fight over.

Most of the show was focused on the rivalry between the girls and profiling the nose of one of the bachelor, Robert’s nose specifically. (See pic below)

Rob's nose was the topic of discussion for a full 5 minutes

D deduced that the moms were there to legitimize the frivolous marriage. And that’s probably true because the old ladies didn’t have as much screentime as Robert’s nose.

The organizer even had a strategy talk with the moms. He suggested that they publicly announce which type of daughter-in-law they want, and “let the girls fight among themselves”.

There wasn’t any cat fights in the three shows that I’ve watched but it was so fascinatingly disgusting that I cannot help watching.

Scandal in a bus

Schmexy music video

Another surprising “show” that we watched was a music video on the bus from Solo to Karangpandan. The women in the music videos were wearing strips of bandages and grinding the air.

It was so shocking that I watched with my jaw slack open the whole way, until they switched to some wildlife program where at least the animals were not in hear.

Other gems in Indonesia TV was sappy romcom where a city boy fell in love with a country girl. It also had a cliched country boy with muscles instead of brains and a city mom with a bouffant that signified the rich tai-tai.

There was also a show where a girl got pregnant with an ex-boyfriend but marries said boyfriend’s best friend. We didn’t get to see the end, so who ever knows the ending, please drop me a mail. Thanks!

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

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