“As you can see, there is truth on the television, because all over the world the mother-in-law is always provoking a fight,” said Muhammad Farid, a man sitting in a run-down restaurant beside the Pul-i-Khishti Mosque, his attention fixed on an Indian soap opera that had been dubbed into Dari…

“We’ve just bought the rights to ‘24,’ the American show,” [Saad Mohseni] said. “We had some concerns. Most of the bad guys are Muslims, but we did focus groups and it turns out most people didn’t care about that so long as the villains weren’t Afghans.”…

Quiz shows reward the knowledgeable: how many pounds of mushrooms did Afghanistan export last year? A contestant who answers correctly earns a free gallon of cooking oil…

Zaid Mohseni, Saad’s younger brother, said: “When we first put a man and woman on the air together, we had complaints: this isn’t legal, this isn’t Islamic, blah, blah, blah. Then the criticism softened. It was O.K. as long as they don’t talk to each other. Finally, it softened more: O.K., they can talk as long as they don’t laugh.”