Geeta’s Guide to Moving On is a contemporary comedy web-series launched through the Chicago-based platform Open Television. Today’s release of the complete 12-episode season debut series from writer, actress, producer and director Puja Mohindra (who currently appears on Chicago Med as recurring character Dr. Lily Singh), is already proving to be a promising addition to this media maker’s creative and ambitious career.
“Geeta’s imperfect characterization is what makes her so relatable.”
Geeta’s Guide catapults the titular character Geeta Gidwani (Mohindra) into misadventure from the first episode. When her concerned and overprotective parents (Ray Raju and Neetu Lalmalani) take their adult daughter to a divorcees support group after her fiance Dani (Andy Nagraj) shockingly calls off the engagement, she’s embraced by new friends and even supported by her gossipy but well-meaning aunties (Padmini Divekar, Mangala Gadkari, and Asha Hira).
Geeta is distraught but still in love with Dani, even after he criticizes her passion project (a hip-hop and classical Indian fusion dance troupe) as an aimless endeavor. Post break-up and throughout the series, we follow Geeta on her journey in online dating, managing her jealousy towards her boss’s (Adithi Chandrashekhar) evidently perfect engagement with a Desi model, ignoring the affections of co-worker Nic (Jed Feder), and trying to better herself with the help of best friend Akua, all while living at home with her parents and bratty (but sweet and supportive) teenage brother Rohan (Darshan Bhatt).
“Geeta’s gossiping aunties are a perfect blend of comedic commentary and satire of traditional cultural tropes.”
Similar to Mindy Kaling’s Doctor Lahiri on The Mindy Project, Geeta is bubbly, sharp, goofy and ultimately deeply flawed. Her decisions at times are downright infuriating (like pining over her ex-fiance, even after he hand delivers 500 wedding cancellation postcards to her at her office). Geeta’s imperfect characterization is what makes her so relatable. She’s a refreshingly awkward leading woman navigating a formulaic situation comedy, rather than a monolithic “good girl” (a la Jane The Virgin) or “bad girl” (a la Jessica Jones).
We root for her when she takes charge of her life and groan with dismay when she wallows in her misfortunes. Meanwhile, Geeta’s gossiping aunties are a perfect blend of comedic commentary and satire of traditional cultural tropes. They serve the dual roles of moving the narrative forward each episode and providing viewers with fourth-wall breaking lady friends with which to unravel the confuzzling decisions Geeta makes in her personal life.
The aunties from Geeta’s Guide to Moving On appear on Chicago’s WGN Morning News (Source: Facebook).
As refreshingly genuine as these characters may be, the pilot series is not without its errors. Switching out the actress portraying Geeta’s best friend Akua (from Danielle Pinnock in the first three episodes to Kristy Johnson in the remaining episodes) makes for awkward viewing, and comes off as a misstep in an otherwise tightly produced project.
Open Television, Geeta’s online distributor, is described as “a platform for intersectional pilots and series supporting Chicago artists in producing and exhibiting indie series.” OTV is setting a precedent amongst independently-produced midwest media by green-lighting racially diverse and gender-inclusive web-series, creating a home for and helping bring to life award-winning shows like Brown Girls and Brujos. Geeta’s Guide to Moving On is no exception to this progressive and entertaining lineup.
Anjali Misra is a Chicago-based nonprofit professional and freelance writer of media reviews, cultural criticism and short fiction work. She earned her MA in gender and women’s studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she spent nine years as a student and community organizer, focusing on inter-ethnic solidarity, interracial coalition building, and gender justice. She is an avid sci-fi media fan, and Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan is her patronus.
Watch the first season: