Our education system likes to make us believe that if you can just jump over the next hurdle, life will turn out to be a perfect dream. We have all grown up believing these axioms and for a select few, those promises might have come to fruition but for most, this was another way of killing their confidence via a system that’s not really designed to evaluate one’s intelligence, and encourage herd mentality.

Aspirants, another show by TVF that romanticises the days of extreme anxiety faced by millions of students who appear for one of the most competitive exam in the world — 10 lakh students applied for 1105 spots in 2023, which means roughly 905 students are competing for every seat — is back with its new season.

Here, a bunch of hopefuls, who are ready to sacrifice their blood, sweat and tears so they can become a civil servant, are actually slaving away so they can finally crack the code and be one of the chosen few who get to enjoy all the perks of the esteemed bureaucratic lifestyle. It seems rather strange that we never see them wondering why they want to become a civil servant – is it because this is a cushy job that’s highly respected in society, or is it actually their idea of serving the nation? Did their parents (or society) condition them into believing that anything below an IAS would make them a failure or is it how they have interpreted the idea of success? In any case, the idea as to why lakhs of young boys and girls are training mindlessly towards an almost unachievable goal, needs to be evaluated but Aspirants chooses to look in the other direction.

The second season of the show picks up from where it left the last time. Abhilash Sharma (played by Naveen Kasturia) still has all his eggs in the UPSC basket and is ready to brave through typhoid to appear for his exam. His friends, with whom he shares a contentious relationship, still can’t make up their mind as to if they should stay mad at him for something he did years ago, or if he should be forgiven because he’s now a District Magistrate, which in this show’s universe is nothing less than being the king.

Speaking of being a District Magistrate, Abhilash is exactly the kind of administrator who would fall in the ‘reality’ category in those popular ‘reality vs expectation’ memes. His idea of administration is something that a political science student would present in their classroom. When applied in practice, these ideas lack vision and can have violent outcomes, and while the show tries to question Abhilash’s lack of expertise in these scenes and actually highlight the loopholes of our system, everything is quickly forgotten to get on with the plot. Even though Aspirants, by this point, has repeatedly romanticised the set formula of learning and scoring in exams, the show hesitatingly raises a flag or two by suggesting that Abhilash is an accidental hero who just got lucky in systemized testing.