And Just Like That is the TV escapism I’m relishing during the omicron wave of the pandemic. It revisits the Sex and the City characters years down the track and while there’s the expected cringeworthy moments, exaggerations and lack of realism at times, it’s relatively easy to digest, doesn’t have me wondering for hours later who the serial killer was at the end of the last episode I watched, and it provides some solid style-spiration (that I’ll never be able to afford, mind you).
Fashion has always been central to the SATC franchise, but a recent episode fell short when it decided to explore another culture’s traditional clothing. Episode six titled Diwali shows Carrie attending a Diwali party with her new friend Seema, played by Sarita Chowdhury. Seema takes Carrie to a ‘sari shop’ and Carrie asks if it would be appropriate to wear a sari to the event celebrating the festival of lights.
“You’re wearing it to a traditional celebration at my family home. That’s not cultural appropriation, that’s cultural appreciation,” Seema tells her.
I agree with Seema. I recently got married in a traditional Hindu ceremony and some of the guests who are white wore saris, lehengas or veshtis to the wedding. In fact, it was my husband who asked his friends if they’d like to wear an Indian outfit and bought the clothing for them.
So after Carrie and Seema’s exchange, I was excited. The last time I saw South Asian fashion in a US drama was on New Girl so I was absolutely ready for this. But unfortunately the execution of this display of cultural appreciation was somewhat disappointing because while Carrie did arrive to the Diwali party in South Asian attire, it was not a sari but a lehenga – yet viewers who aren’t familiar were led to believe this is a sari.
Imran Amed, CEO and founder of The Business of Fashion, explains not only the difference between a sari and lehenga, but how this was a missed opportunity to educate wider society about the beauty and diversity of South Asian fashion.
“As so many of you noted in your replies to my story, it’s actually a lehenga (or ghagra) which is the long, embellished floor length skirt pictured here with a choli, or blouse,” Imran wrote on his Instagram account. “A sari is a single piece of long fabric wrapped around the body and commonly worn throughout India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, also with a blouse.
“For a fashion obsessed woman, it would have been such a great opportunity to educate viewers on the different forms of South Asian traditional dress, the different ways of tying a sari, the different fabrics and textiles. What a missed opportunity!”
Imran’s not alone, with many viewers sharing their disappointment on social media.
And just like that… I hope Hollywood takes note for next time. Whether that be employing more South Asian crew behind the scenes or consulting an expert from the community, do the research, involve us in the process and avoid the lazy route of tokenism. I’m sari not sorry!