Television in Putin’s Russia

There are two targeted TV audiences in Russia these days: older Russians who are nostalgic for their pre-perestroika youth and younger viewers who are curious about a Communist system that today seems unimaginable. This New York Times piece profiles some of the shows:

The jokes on a new Russian sitcom called “The Eighties,” are punctuated with faded archival footage; Moscow without neon or traffic and Russians lining up around the block to buy sausage. It’s a coming-of-age comedy like “That ’70s Show” or “Happy Days” but focused on the naïveté and insularity of Soviet society in a way that makes viewers feel sophisticated and modern. A nerdy university student tries to impress a pretty girl who just moved back from France. “When I was a kid, I went abroad too,” he boasts. “Mongolia.”

And Russia’s version of The Bachelor:

“Let’s Get Married!” is a dating show like “The Bachelor,” but without the time — or budget — for sunset balloon rides across Moldovan wine country or hot-tub getaways on the Black Sea. Instead, it brings a jolt of Slavic fatalism to romance: the bachelor has his choice of three eligible and comely young women, but first he must listen to the advice and commentary of a panel of older women who cross-examine him and the potential brides. Also, for no better reason than a flair for excess, the bachelor and his prospective brides sometimes wear theme costumes: he as a hussar officer and they as Tolstoyian ballroom belles, he as Aladdin and they as a harem of belly dancers.

Still playing today, my favorite Russian TV show is Что? Где? Когда?, a very exciting and challenging team trivia game.

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