Good Girl Bad Girl aims to offend and succeeds – but not in the way it intends to.
The “girl” of the title is actually a sexually adventurous and unapologetically irreverent woman who also happens to be a habitual liar. Maya, a direct descendant of the heroines of the television shows Girls and Fleabag, deploys her brain and body at will to get ahead.
Maya (Samridhi Dewan) has been reaping the benefits of fibbing right from her childhood. Her flexible approach to veracity accompanies her through her eventful adolescence and saves her from being fired from the lawyer’s firm where she hopes to become a partner.
A lump in her breast leads to the possibility that Maya might have cancer. Before her examining doctor Punit (Soham Majumdar) can confirm the results, Maya declares that she is infected and is therefore worthy of preferential treatment.
The falsehood prevents Maya’s boss Zaina (Gul Panag) from sacking her and checkmates Maya’s colleague Sahil (Vaibhav Raj Gupta), who hates her guts. An on-off relationship with the manbun-sporting Prithvi (Zain Khan) becomes more on than off.
A parallel career as a social media influencer beckons. Maya’s parents (Rajendra Sethi and Sheeba Chadha), from whom she has been estranged, appear to be coming around too.
The series is based on a concept by Vikas Bahl, who is on the comeback trail after allegations of sexual harassment. Bahl and Chaitally Parmar also serve as showrunners. Abhishek Sengupta directs nine episodes written by Tahira Nath and Nikhil Arora that are seething with sympathy-for-the-devil sentiment.
The frequently coarse dialogue matches the tawdry situations in which Maya finds herself ever so often. The bar is often as low as the levels to which Maya stoops to grab what she believes she deserves.
Maya’s use of her femininity as a weapon stymies any claims the show might make to being feminist. Her inappropriate touchy-feely relationship with her doctor, her seductive ways when she’s in a jam, and her dubious advice to a colleague in a tricky situation suggest that women who fake it most certainly make it.
Good Girl Bad Girl reaches its nadir early with slow-motion shots of women jogging. For good measure, there’s a bra-sniffing neighbour and a woman who has given her mammaries matching names. By the time Maya has met actual breast cancer survivors, the show’s claims of being sensitive towards this emotionally damaging and potentially life-threatening ailment ring as hollow as one of Maya’s fibs.
Samridhi Dewan’s relentless and eventually tiresome wickedness is counterbalanced by Soham Majumdar’s welcome restraint. As Maya’s parents, Rajendra Sethi and Sheeba Chadha are models of relatable warmth.
The series ends on a cliffhanger. But it’s clear that it can only go down from there.