Birthday Special: 73 Questions With Kashika Saxena

You didn't actually believe that, right?

Just in case you forgot, Continue Watching turned one on July 15, and here’s Kashika, the fun half of the newsletter (she’s the one who writes the fun intros that keep you reading the rest), being interviewed by Shahana (who is just terrible at intros; she wrote one that was so bad, both of them decided that she was never doing it again without even speaking about it). So without further ado, read the entire interview below!

Shahana: So, let’s go back to the start. Last year, when I first asked if you wanted to start a newsletter on TV, what was your immediate reaction? 

Kashika: My immediate reaction was no, which is what I told you. Every time it would come up, I’d say that I don’t have the time for it. I had just gotten a big promotion at work and I was so wrapped up in my job that I really didn’t think I had time for anything else. You, bless you, told me you’d wait for whenever I was ready. I’m honestly grateful you didn’t just give up on it or me. Then, one day, I was having a tough time at work, there were more things I could handle and I was just losing my mind. On an impulse, I texted you and said let’s do it. And you immediately said yes. 

Shahana: Back when we started Continue Watching, we were both in a bit of a weird place emotionally, not knowing how to call ourselves writers when we weren’t really writing, but also not knowing what else to be. Has Continue Watching filled that void? 

Kashika: To a certain extent, yes. I’ve gone from only writing captions on my Insta stories to writing at least 5000 words every month, so that’s definitely progress. I remember in the first issue that we were writing, it took me ages to even start my essay on Parenthood. I just… had forgotten how to write a decent opening sentence. It was very humbling. Everyone who says that you are supposed to keep practising and writing to be a better writer is 100% right. I would still not call myself a writer though until I can write at least five essays for consecutive issues where I don’t turn them into a diary entry for my journal. 

Shahana: Have your TV watching habits changed at all since we started Continue Watching? Do you still watch things based on what you like, or do you consciously make an effort to watch things as soon as they’re out because we might want to write about it?

Kashika: I really want the answer to this question to be yes, but the honest truth is that my habits have not changed one bit. I am a picky viewer and I don’t give every show a fair chance. I know what I like and I rarely deviate from that. At the most, I will try to watch something that’s trending in time for an issue, like I did with I May Destroy You, but I have not expanded my TV horizons because of Continue Watching

Shahana: Tell me about your favourite issues. Which was the most fun to write, which one you’re most proud of?

Kashika: The most fun to write was hands down the romcom issue, because it made me think about why I love romcoms so much and revisit so many old favourites. It was also one of the easiest essays for me to write, which I was very happy about. I also had a lot of fun making the list of our TV boyfriends!

I’m most proud of the one we wrote on men and their potential for violence. I wrote about my cognitive dissonance when it comes to watching abusive men be glorified on Hindi TV and how that has coloured all my relationships. It’s something I’ve worried/wondered about for years and putting it down in words helped clear my head a little bit. You wrote about The Undoing, and how there were little acts of violence being constantly committed by Hugh Grant’s character that hint at something more sinister. I had missed some of those little things while watching the show so your essay was disconcerting to read, but equally important at the same time. 

Shahana: Is there an issue theme you really want to do, but one we just haven’t gotten around to writing?

Kashika: I want to do something around ‘work’. For better or worse, my job is a huge part of my identity and I feel like a lot of who I am as a worker today is influenced by TV shows I watched in my early 20s, like Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal. The idea of being almost married to your job that I struggle with comes from a lot of things, including my personality, but it also has a lot to do with these shows. I remember when I watched the Gilmore Girls revival where Rory is struggling with her career, I texted a friend saying the fact that she is struggling at 30 is giving me so much comfort, like it’s okay, it’s allowed. I want to understand why I need a fictional character to tell me that. 

Shahana: Assume the sky is your limit; what would you write about? Who would you interview, what would you want to ask them, what kind of piece would you write but can’t right now due to lack of time, motivation, or access to information/people?

Kashika: I should probably aim higher but I would love to do a lengthy, exhaustive piece speaking to leading Indian TV actors on the characters they play on screen and how they make peace with their regressive, abusive choices. Every single Hindi TV show is a dumpster fire and it’s a systemic issue with a lot of contributing factors, but I want to understand how, as artists, they come to terms with it.

I would also interview Lauren Graham and probably fuck it up because I will be so starstruck. 

Shahana: Tell me your 5-year plan for CW, and then a 10-year plan for CW

Kashika: My 5-year plan is for us to have at least a few thousand subscribers and become an engaging community for television, where people come for spirited discussions and debates and no one judges anyone else’s TV preferences.

My 10-year plan is for us to have monetised Continue Watching so successfully that this is our one and only job. 

Shahana: Now, let’s talk about TV in general. Tell me the following and why in one sentence:

  1. A show that you think is as close to perfect as possible

  2. A show you think is criminally underrated

  3. A show that should never have been made

  4. A show that was cancelled too soon

Kashika:

  1.  A show that you think is as close to perfect as possible—The first three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I can recite the dialogues from memory. Everything was done well - friendship, work, love triangles, mentorship. Nothing I have ever watched since or before comes close, not even the subsequent seasons of Grey’s.

  2. A show you think is criminally underrated—Good Trouble. The simplest way I can explain it is that it’s a saucier, more self-aware version of The Bold Type but no one I know watches it, including you. 

  3. A show that should never have been made—I don’t know how to answer this because I do not watch everything, but a few years ago I watched the first episode of Downton Abbey and it still pains me that I will never get that one hour of my life back. 

  4. A show that was cancelled too soon—Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist was recently cancelled after two seasons. I am still heartbroken about it. A couple of years ago, Netflix cancelled Santa Clarita Diet after three super fun seasons. I am still salty about that. 

Shahana: Let’s say Netflix got in touch with you and said they’d like you to write a show. What are you making?

Kashika: A romcom. And the heroine is absolutely 100% based on me. 

Shahana: Tell me your favourite BTS moment. Catch is, you have to pick something from a TV show they did, so lives, concerts, music videos etc do not count.
P.s If you want to cheat and put in more than one, I will (happily) allow it.

Finishing strong with BTS! I see what you did there :) 

Since I’ve only watched (some episodes of) Run BTS, here are my top 3 moments from it:

  1. Lachimolala - This was the first random Run BTS clip I watched on reels and that is how I discovered that this show exists. Till date, whenever it shows up somewhere, I watch it and laugh.

  1. The Tomato song - When I watched BTS (incorrectly) sing a nursery rhyme about a tomato over and over for 15 minutes and didn’t get bored, I knew I was in it for life. 

  1. The Hearing Test - Again, I found this in the beginning, when I didn’t know every single thing about BTS. Watching them find each other while being blindfolded, just by hearing the word ARMY being shouted, was heartwarming for some reason. Especially when V goes to Jimin instead of j-hope, and j-hope says, “It’s your soulmate Jimin!” It made me curious about the bond these seven boys shared. 


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