GEETA’S GUIDE TO MOV­ING ON

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Geeta Gidwani (Puja Mo­hin­dra) is in a stage of life that many of us can re­late to: try­ing to find her bear­ings in the heart­break­ing cesspool of a breakup. Her sit­u­a­tion is es­pe­cially dra­matic be­cause her fi­ancé and part­ner of 10 years, Dani (Andy Na­graj), de­liv­ers the bad news just hours be­fore their en­gage­ment party. Geeta’s life im­me­di­ately de­scends into chaos: Who is she with­out the man she moved to Chicago for? Will she ever be able to get out of bed with­out her fam­ily drag­ging her out of it? The web se­ries Geeta’s Guide to Mov­ing On is a por­trait of a woman fac­ing these ob­sta­cles and wob­bling to­ward re­cov­ery.

Those who have had their fill of Eat Pray Love–es­que nar­ra­tives that cen­ter on white women who over­come emo­tional pain by ex­plor­ing—and ex­oti­ciz­ing—other cul­tures will be happy to know that Geeta’s char­ac­ters are peo­ple of color, adding a re­fresh­ing el­e­ment to fa­mil­iar breakup and self-dis­cov­ery plot­lines. Women of color are hardly ever given the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence growth on­screen, and Geeta’s Guide to Mov­ing On closes that gap by ex­clud­ing white­ness from the nar­ra­tive al­to­gether.

Geeta’s story is told through eight-minute episodes that fea­ture her sup­port network: There’s her South Asian fam­ily, who drag her to a di­vorce sup­port group in the ab­sence of a more ap­pro­pri­ate type of free ther­apy; her aun­ties, who pro­vide bit­ing and sur­pris­ingly tech-savvy com­men­tary about Geeta’s life; and her best friend Akua (Danielle Pin­nock), an ath­letic fat Black woman who never hes­i­tates to push Geeta to­ward her true po­ten­tial. In a time when friend­ships be­tween women of color from dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties are rarely por­trayed on­screen, Geeta’s friend­ship with Akua is sweet, some­times full of tough love, but—most im­por­tantly—a nec­es­sary chal­lenge to the to­kenism to which women of color are usu­ally sub­jected.

When Geeta moves in with her par­ents post­breakup, they’re con­cerned and in­tru­sive—as South Asian par­ents of­ten are—and suf­fer along­side her, ac­tively try­ing to help her get over Dani. The med­dle­some but lov­ing pair of­fers an au­then­tic and wel­come de­pic­tion of South Asian par­ents, and their re­la­tion­ship to Geeta shows a par­ent-daugh­ter dy­namic that is, again, a marked con­trast to the in­de­pen­dent-white­girl-find­ing-her-way nar­ra­tive. Rather than walk­ing away from ev­ery­thing to “find her­self,” Geeta finds so­lace and sal­va­tion in her sup­port network. Their re­as­sur­ance—even when Geeta is in deep de­nial—is heart­warm­ing.

Each episode is pref­aced with a les­son on how to move on, each one more re­lat­able than the last. From the in­tro­duc­tory “It sucks and that’s okay” to Geeta’s flail­ing at­tempt, in a later episode, to ap­pear happy and healthy when it be­comes clear Dani isn’t com­ing back to her, the web se­ries ex­plores the agony of be­ing lost in your 20s, por­tray­ing the en­su­ing con­fu­sion and need to feel any­thing but de­spair and em­pha­siz­ing the im­por­tance of gen­tle­ness and hu­man con­nec­tion in hard times. The typ­i­cal on­screen ex­oti­ciza­tion of Brown women means that nar­ra­tives about their lives are gen­er­ally about be­ing oth­ered, rather than be­ing hu­man. Geeta’s Guide to Mov­ing On gives space to a woman of color to sim­ply be, with weak­nesses, strengths, and the abil­ity to ex­press them with­out the stereo­typ­ing of the white gaze.

There are cur­rently three episodes avail­able for stream­ing, so there are myr­iad paths the story can take (I am cu­ri­ous to see what Geeta will do about her pas­sion for danc­ing now that her life has changed), but Geeta’s Guide to Mov­ing On gives us a nec­es­sary twist on a fa­mil­iar story.

Geeta’s Guide to Mov­ing On gives space to a woman of color to sim­ply be.

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