This is just the funnest frothiest show. Highly highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it yet. And Karisma is a delight. She was born to be the lead of a dramedy. Below I have posted a brief description and an index of all my reviews, and then my review for the finale episode of the season. If you watched it already, tell me how much you loved it and Karisma! If you haven’t watched it, do that now and then read all my reviews using the index!
“Mentalhood” is a dramedy starring Karisma Kapoor, former major star and major talent, married at the peak of her success, and now returning to acting after some very bumpy years (long messy divorce) and two kids. It’s along the same lines as Big Little Lies or the Bad Moms movie, or Twinkle Khanna’s comic writings. The stresses and strains of the very wealthy mothers of Bombay. Fun cast, fun dialogue, fun little glimpse into that way of life (for example, the school that brings all the characters together is clearly based on the Ambani school where AbRam Khan goes, including constant references to “Aryan Khanna” the movie star whose son goes there).
And, ALTBalaji is only a few dollars a month! Totally worth it.
Mentalhood Episode 1: New girl in School
Mentalhood Episode 2: Cutest Boy in School
Mentalhood Episode 3: Gender is a Construct
Mentalhood Episode 4: Tiger Mom
Mentalhood Episode 5: Mother as Nurse
Mentlahood Episode 6: Women United
Mentalhood Episode 7: Not-Gauri Makes an Appearance
Mentalhood Episode 8: Everything Starts Happening!
Mentalhood Episode 9 and 10: Season Finale! Almost Everything Revealed!
If we don’t get a second season, I will be VERY UPSET. This finale opened doors for new storylines, and kept some mysteries hidden, and it is going to drive me crazy.
The center storyline, the only one that really matters, is Dino’s daughter being molested. The show never goes into detail about what happened to her, which I appreciate. It was a terrible thing that made her very sad and upset, and whoever did it should be found and punished. But she is just a little girl who needs love and friends and the same things little girls always need, she hasn’t been changed into some kind of mutant “victim”.
And the molestation storyline, which felt kind of random last episode, ends up really working for me. It is a very particular trial by fire for mothers. Because this is the moment when you choose your children’s safety and happiness over public shame. All of our parents pass this test, they are ready to do whatever it takes to keep children safe (investigate their own husbands, shame the school, whatever).
The two episodes attack this story from two sides, first shame and then truth. The first episode is all about people dealing with what to tell their kids, what to make public and what to keep private, what is healthy. And the second episode is all about uncovering the truly private truths and sins and secrets, and sharing them which is what makes you strong.
Anyway, plot! Character by character! Dino has more to do than in maybe any other episode. He starts by grabbing the bus driver and attacking him and then insisting he be fired. And then just working through his own parental guilt over his failure to protect his daughter. His friends reassure him and suggest he bring his kids to school for the final day celebrations so they can see their friends and be happy. But at school his daughter says she saw the “bad uncle” again, it wasn’t the bus driver, Dino did the wrong thing in trying to protect her. And he has to slowly gain her trust and convince her that it is okay to tell him the truth. To do that, he finally tells his kids where their “mother” is, taking them to the fertility doctor who helped him and explaining to them that he wanted to be a father and went to a doctor for help, and a “surrogate angel” carried them in her stomach, and then he had babies. They have no mother, because they have a father who is both their father and their mother. And that’s okay. Some time after this conversation, his daughter finally feels safe and points out the photo of the “bad uncle” when Dino shows them to her on his tablet. The season ends with Dino storming in, police behind him, to hit the REAL villain and then have the cops drag him away. Left hanging at the end of the episode is who exactly is the married woman Dino is in love with?????
Karisma has nothing dramatic to do, but I really like where her story goes. First, her mother-in-law is still there, which gives her someone to play off of in the “shame” part of the story as she decides that her parenting is going to be shame-free. She wants her kids to know the real names of body parts, and to be able to ask her questions and talk to her. We don’t really see it happen, just have a voice over of her working through that decision and then being happy when it happens. I’m kind of relieved, I don’t want to see Karisma struggle through those conversations with child actors who aren’t really her kids! And I like where the show ended up on this part, that it WASN’T some big dramatic story, Karisma just decided this was how she was going to parent, and it was easy once she made the decision. This is something any parent can do.
And second, she has a brief fake out which I didn’t believe for a second when Dino’s daughter identifies Sanjay as one of the potential “bad uncles”. Karisma comes home, shocked at this, and then Sanjay sits her down for a serious conversation while she is all torn up, and it turns out surprisingly wonderful. He has just learned she is the “mental Mom” blogger. And he is so proud and happy and amazed at how wonderful she is, and wants her to reveal her identity so everyone can see how wonderful she is. Not only that, he already knew about the blog because he has been struggling as a parent too! He was worried about being the best father he could be and making mistakes and stuff and found the blog and it helped him. So Sanjay is both a super supportive partner, and the kind of good parent who worries about being a better parent. Just the best, all around. The end of the episode slams open an exciting door for them, when in the last minute Sanjay admits he just got fired and encourages Karisma to take on the opportunities she is offered through her blog so she can support them for a while. And they hold hands and she says “I got this”. Awwwww! I want another season to see Sanjay as the primary caregiver and Karisma as an exciting public personality and all kinds of things!
Tillotama has a really interesting storyline. Her marriage stays resolved more or less from last episode. Resolved in that she is going to stand up for herself and her husband is going to accept that he needs to do better. This time, she finds her kids watching porn. That’s a problem of course, but the real problem is that it is her husband’s porn, which he downloaded onto the kids’ laptop. He can watch porn, her kids will have healthy curiosity, okay. But he can’t foolishly download porn onto something the kids have access to, that is very much NOT okay. So she humiliates him while they have friends over, plays the video on the TV and then says “what? I thought it was fine, since you played this WHERE OUR KIDS COULD SEE IT!” It’s a bit over the top, but this is a soap after all, and the point is that Tillotama is doing what her husband asked her to do in the previous episode, tell him when he is wrong so he can be better.
Forget that, the far more interesting Tillotama storyline is when, during a closed door PTA meeting, she bursts out that molestation isn’t something that just happens to other people, it happened to HER. And when she told her mother, her mother said “we are a good family, this doesn’t happen in a good family.” While she is talking, her husband who is there too stands up and goes to her. So, yaaay! I mean, not “yaay”, but “Yaay for a clear interesting resolution of her story that surprisingly ties into the finale conflict”. Tillotama has been so shy about speaking up for herself, saying what was wrong, it felt like she was afraid of her husband, like he was abusing her (which is what Sandhya thought). But then last episode, her husband was really sweet to her, and we learned they had a love marriage and he was the man she chose, and they entered this marriage as loving equals. So, how did it go so wrong? Why didn’t Tillotama right the ship before now? Here’s the answer. She learned the lesson that you need to keep quiet and be nice because you won’t be believed, that you can’t trust those you love to listen to you and be better. Her husband is a good guy, deep down, and had to force her to talk to him about what was bothering her so he would know it was a problem. And he loves her and worries about her, and his reaction in this moment leaves it open that either he knew this all along and knows what she is about to say, or he is learning it just now and his reaction is love and support. Either way, a good guy! Who was becoming a bad guy because Tillotama wasn’t talking to him.
Okay, Sandhya! Big reveal there which, honestly, I don’t think exactly fits what we saw before? Anyway, she has another confrontation with her husband and he says he wants a divorce. She asks if it is about the other man, he says yes, she says “I thought we had a deal!” he says the deal is over, he’s leaving her. There is increasing tension all episode because the day Dino’s daughter was molested, the other man surprised her at school. She doesn’t want it coming out that he was at school because she doesn’t want their relationship to be public. Finally at the end of the episode, the other mother’s confront her as she is blaming all their husbands, and something comes up about why she keeps trying to hide things when everyone at school knows she is having an affair. And REVEAL! She isn’t having the affair HER HUSBAND IS! He is GAY!!!! And she is so unhappy and ashamed, ashamed because she feels like she is weak for staying in this marriage. If she was really a strong person like they all believe, she would have left him. But instead she lives this compromise half life because she wants his name and money.
Again, doesn’t quite work. We saw her interacting with the other man alone without her husband. And we saw her husband send the other man out of their lives while she protested. And we saw the other man meet her in secret and beg her to let him back into their lives. I am sure if I went through episode by episode, the exact dialogue would still fit, but they sure cheated on the editing! We barely saw her husband interact with the man we now know is his lover.
What is really wonderful is that Sandhya’s shame is over living with this situation, not the situation itself. That is, she isn’t blaming herself for her husband being gay, or blaming him for being gay, or even saying “this is no big deal, he supports me and gave me children”. She is blaming herself because a stronger woman would have walked out of this marriage instead of living with it. That is the shame, that she accepted this half a life which obviously no woman deserves simply because she was afraid to take a risk for something better. And, yaaay! We finally get closure on why Sandhya felt so out of control at home and so obsessed with being in control at school. And an interesting little unspoken thing, with her gay husband also being abusive. The problems in their marriage aren’t because he is gay, but because he is someone who puts his own needs above everything else and blames other people when things don’t work out. And then, last minute tease reveal! Sandhya is PREGNANT!!!! How? Who? Why? What will happen next????
Poor Shruti Seth continues to barely have a storyline There’s some small resolution for her, but it feels almost tagged on. The past few episodes have been about her and her ex fighting over parenting. And again, I think the show cheated a bit with redefining their situation. I guess at the start they were newly separated with Shruti having primary custody? And then after their son got sick, she gave him to his father as the primary person? And the past 3-4 episodes have been them really fighting over childcare issues instead of just accepting that one or the other has unilateral control? Anyway, they fight again because Shruti chose to give their son a basic “good touch-bad touch” lesson. Her husband is upset because their son freaked out when his grandfather was helping him change. That sounded a little odd to me (why would a good touch-bad touch lesson be so misinterpreted?) and then by golly the show pays it off! Late in the episode, he calmly tells his dad that a “bad uncle” is touching him. So Shruti was right to have that talk and plant the seed so her son would feel safe telling the truth later. HA! And her ex-husband is smart enough to see that she was right, and to believe their son, so they decide to “consciously uncouple” as equals and are in a better place. I mean really, Shruti’s son is being molested and she STILL barely gets screentime? That’s kind of weird.
And then there is Shilpa! Finally with a storyline! And a super good one. I was sure the molester was going to be Sandhya’s affair man, mostly because his make-up is weird and he looks like he has no lips, with Sandhya’s evil husband as a back up because he is EVIL. I never really thought it could be Sanjay Suri, because then you wouldn’t have a show (Karisma can’t be our every woman Mom if her husband is a pedophile). The show gave us 4 options, Sandhya’s husband, Sandhya’s affair man, Sanjay Suri, and Shilpa’s husband. I figured Shilpa’s husband was just thrown in at random to give Shilpa something to do, Sanjay Suri was an obvious red herring, it was one of Sandhya’s two guys. Sanjay was written off early, and then at the very end of the episode as everything is coming out, Sandhya confesses that her husband is gay and the other man is his lover, not hers. This show is far too smart to do “gay=pedophile”, and anyway it’s 2020, we all know that is ridiculous. Which means….Shilpa’s husband????
It came out of nowhere in a lot of ways, but it also really works! We saw him playing with the little kids a few episodes ago, I thought it was showing that he was actually a good guy, but now it makes more sense. Shilpa hasn’t been around that much for her daughter, but also for her husband, he could easily have been doing things behind her back in a way that Sanjay Suri just couldn’t with his work schedule and Karisma always being there at home. At the same time, he has been in town and present for school stuff in a way Sandhya’s husband wasn’t (because he is a jerk who is always working). And the show is good with clarifying how this affected his parenting of their daughter. He never molested her at all, but he also sometimes wasn’t around for her when he was supposed to be because he was spending more time with the kids he was grooming. Kind of makes Shilpa’s guilt over not being their for her daughter, and her daughter’s acting out, feel different. It’s not that Shilpa wasn’t there, it’s that her “present” parent wasn’t really present because he preferred to spend time with younger children. That’s the end of the episode, Shilpa telling her daughter she won’t be working any more so she can spend more time with her, and the daughter telling her not to do that, she likes having a working Mom. Shilpa was right all along, she was a good Mom even if she worked, her daughter’s issues were from a whole different direction of parental neglect.
And then of course, tease for next season! Shilpa will now be a single parent, her husband is arrested, will this affect her job? Or their income? How will her daughter handle the shame of what her father did? So much juicy stuff for her to do!
All of these reveals go to the final point of the episode, and the show. We started with mother’s struggling and hiding problems from each other and competing. And we end with mother’s coming together. Sandhya’s friends love her and support her in her false marriage. Shilpa’s friends stand by her and tell her she will be fine as a single parent. Karisma finally reveals herself as the “mental mom” blogger and gets a standing ovation at the school. Even Dino gets love, called out as a father AND a mother and fine that way. Tillotama reveals her secret and no one judges her. And Shruti gets almost forgotten, but whatever, she should be used to it by now.
Anyway, for those of you who watched this show with me, we MUST TALK:
- Who is Dino in love with???? Sandhya? Is he the father of her baby? Or Shruti? Will she finally get a storyline? Or is it a man after all (despite the show using “she” in previous episodes)? There was that random guy who Karisma passed when she came to visit Dino’s house and he said as just a friend?
- Who is the father of Sandhya’s baby????? Is this a last ditch attempt to save her marriage baby? Or is she leaving her husband and having a baby by sperm bank on her own? Or is it her husband’s baby but also she is having it on her own? Or, of course, Dino!
- Karisma says that Karan Johar offered her a talk show, WILL KARAN CAMEO AS HIMSELF????
- Will Shilpa get a romance storyline as a working single mother with scandalous past? Because I want that!
- Will Shruti ever get any kind of storyline at all? If we all close our eyes and wish very hard, could Shruti end up being Bi and in a relationship with Shilpa? Or Sandhya? Or all three together?
- Where does Karisma buy her dresses and jumpsuits and can I buy them too or do I have to look like Karisma to pull them off?