When all of twitter outraged about Chetan Bhagat’s latest masterpiece “half girlfriend” I didn’t know what the big deal was. Given that concepts such as ladder theory, friendzone, GBF (Gay Best Friend), FGB (Foremost Girl Buddy), Goalkeeper Theory and Petromax are all so well documented and accepted, it doesn’t take much of a leap to get to the concept of “half-girlfriend”, as described in the flipkart summary of the book.
It seemed to me that the people that were outraging were all pseud-types who had hardly been single in their youth and how looked down upon IITs and IITians (for lacking social skills; and guilty as charged on that count). That they were people who subscribed to a certain view of how friendships and romances and relationships should function, and who were incapable of appreciating any alternate mechanisms. I could think of them as the people who got madly outraged when I put out my now classic blog post on petromaxing in business schools nine Deepavalis ago.
But now that the book has already come out (I have no plans to read it since I don’t read fiction. Moreover, considering myself an authority on alternate mechanisms of romantic relationships, and am married to someone who considers herself an authority on conventional mechanisms of romantic relationships, I don’t think I can bear being lectured upon on such topics), and people that I know, or people that know people that I know have started reading it, I realise why the outrage is all about. Consider this sample which I got on one WhatsApp group this morning:
The first reaction is that the quality of writing is horrible, but then that’s how Chetan Bhagat writes, and that’s how the audience he writes for wants him to write. And then the whole crassness of the implementation of the concept in the book hits me – while the concept of half-girlfriend might be a bloody good one, with wide-ranging implications and mechanism designs, it seems like (based on the above limited sample) the concept as instantiated by Bhagat doesn’t hold a candle to its potential!
I’ve now crossed the floor. I’m now in the camp of the people who believe that Chetan Bhagat’s Half Girlfriend is cringeworthy – and I find it cringeworthy not because of the concept (which I think is rather worthy), but because of the way that Bhagat seems to have butchered it and made it appear crass and “LS”. By writing this book, Bhagat has nipped in the bud what might have been a phenomenal alternative relationship concept. And that is unforgivable.
I don’t normally quote sitcoms, and I don’t normally watch sitcoms, but given we are on the topic of alternative relationships mechanisms, I can’t help but put a short video featuring perhaps the greatest purveyor of alternative relationship mechanisms of all time – Jeffery Murdoch from Coupling. I couldn’t find an extract from the episode, so here is the full first episode of the first season of Coupling in all its glory! May you be able to get rid of your unflushables!