Ray (Vihaan Samat) is not unattractive or unintelligent or clumsy. He’s just inexplicably self-conscious and desperate to find love. He has three friends, all of whom offer questionable advice. His bestie Riya’s (Dalai) answer to every problem is to go to a party, nightclub or bar. His work friend Varun (Ankur Rathee), who is every bit as confident around women as Ray is lacking in confidence, suggests unabashed propositioning. Wiz, the voice inside Ray’s head, is impertinent and politically incorrect.
Ray’s parents (Suchitra Pillai and Rahul Bose), focussed on finding the right match for Ray, seem to be unaware of their son’s childhood crutch. Ray mopes around a lot, living with a jumble of thoughts about his sexual inexperience and poor luck in the dating game. The eight-episode season of Eternally Confused and Eager for Love comprises crisp 25-minute episodes that require scant emotional or mental investment. The Netflix show is part catalogue of Ray’s dating disasters, part parody of his home life and largely a snapshot of how millennials interact with their ecosystems.
To the credit of writer-director-creator Rahul Nair, the women in the show are no pushovers. Politically incorrect overtures and deceit are not tolerated. In the digital age, all it requires is one click of a button – “Delete”.
Ray’s father is a baby products manufacturer who advises his son to “be your own diaper”. Bose and Pillai play the bickering married couple with a great deal of ease. As Wiz’s voice, Jim Sarbh is wonderfully playful, conveying the made-in-China, American-accented wizard’s glee with mischief. A device to convey Ray’s inner conflict, the jousting between Ray and Wiz does get tiresome after a while.
Nair sets the show largely in an office, home, bars, cafes and cars. The show draws heavily from American sitcoms and romcoms, substituting the awkward teenaged high school girl with a young man in Mumbai. While Ray is pretty straitlaced, Wiz and Varun bring in wickedness and irreverence.
Ray’s mother provides the emotional anchor as Ray muddles through the politics and rules of dating. The script is occasionally witty, often unfiltered and doesn’t take itself very seriously. The costumes, production design, sets and music complement the mood.
As the confused and yearning protagonist, Samat’s puppy-dog expressions and random honesty are disarming and endearing, even when his character is infuriating. Samat rarely has an opportunity to smile or throw caution to the wind and is delightful when he does. Given the season’s end, it would appear Ray might be back to make more bad dating decisions, counselled by his make-believe companion.