Can a television drama help young people in India challenge harmful gender norms?


This research summary outlines results from a mixed methods evaluation into our transmedia project in India, AdhaFULL. 

Publication date: March 2019

Authors: Melissa Shannon 


AdhaFULL (Half Full), is a national 78-episode whodunit TV drama that sought to spark discussion and break the silence surrounding sensitive issues affecting young people in India. Broadcast in 2016/2017, it was watched by an average of 1 million viewers per episode.

The drama revolves around three young people: Kitty, Tara and Adrak. In the show, the gang works together to set things right in their small town, solving a new case each week. Each episode sees them encounter issues including underage marriage, sex-selective abortion, stereotyping of women and girls, sexual health, financial dependence, higher education for girls, hygiene and sanitation, drug and alcohol abuse, mental health, and gender-based violence.

Through drama, the show aimed to challenge the traditions and attitudes that perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes in India and boost the ability of teenagers to take action to improve their lives.

The results of the AdhaFULL evaluation revealed the pervasiveness of harmful gender norms and social expectations in Indian society. However, the RCT also provided encouraging evidence that watching AdhaFull positively affected boy’s self-efficacy and rejection of gender norms. These findings demonstrate the potential of a teen drama to challenge stereotypes and improve confidence.