Indian Matchmaking: Netflix’s ‘divisive’ dating show causes storm

By Anika Jain on August 19, While the two lovers have the opportunity to go on actual dates and have some liberties when it comes to deciding their spouse, Sima Aunty is more or less setting up arranged marriages — an ancient tradition in many Asian countries, especially in India. In addition to these superficial preferences, families are very clear about their desire to match their children with a spouse from a high caste — despite the abolishment of the Indian caste system in Rather, it is unapologetically Indian, from the glamorization of fair skin to the marital pressure from families. Notwithstanding the intense colorism and classism, the stakes for these singles is much higher than any other reality TV show. Now, this is not to say that arranged marriages are entirely forced and restrictive. As an Indian American myself, more than half of the married couples I grew up around had arranged marriages, including my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

Why Does “Indian Matchmaking” Make My Culture Seem So Burdensome?

Indian Matchmaking shows picky individuals with a long list of demands that centre around caste, height and skin colour. A new Netflix show about an Indian matchmaker catering to the high demands of potential brides and grooms, and their parents, has stoked an online debate about arranged marriages in the country. The eight-part series, Indian Matchmaking, premiered on Netflix last week and is currently among its top-ranked India shows.

It features Sima Taparia, a real-life matchmaker from Mumbai, who offers her services to families in India and abroad. The show has become the subject of memes, jokes, and criticism, about the pickiness of the potential spouses and their parents, with long lists of demands centring around factors like caste, height or skin colour. Indian Matchmaking isn’t just about the liberal colorist and sexist fabric South Asian cultures are steeped in.

But issues of casteism, colorism and sexism, which have long accompanied the practice of arranged marriage in India and the diaspora, arise.

On Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking,” marriage consultant Sima Taparia travels the world to meet with hopeful clients and help them find the perfect match for an arranged marriage. The format of the show is simple. Hopeful brides- and grooms-to-be meet with Taparia — often with their overbearing parents in tow — for an initial consultation. Criteria are laid out, potential suitors are presented on paper, dates are arranged, and then it’s up to the couple to decide if it’s a match.

In some respects, the producers should be commended. This is a show that turns away from the “big fat Indian wedding” trope and offers something fresh: a look at how some traditional-facing couples meet through the services of a professional matchmaker. The characters’ stories — as well as cringier moments — play out in entertaining ways, at times revealing the absurdities and awkwardness of matchmaking.

I laughed when, for example, Taparia sought the consultation of an astrologist and a face reader. Matchmaker Sima Taparia meets with hopeful clients. Credit: Netflix. At other points, the show presents brutal truths about Indian culture: the emphasis on being “fair”; the enormous pressure to wed; the focus on caste and class; the stigmatization of independent, working women. But the show fails to contextualize or even question these problematic beliefs when they’re brought up by its characters, presenting them instead as the status quo.

With that, Netflix missed an opportunity to challenge a social system fraught with cultural biases, and also educate a global audience on important nuances. In Sima Taparia, the show found a regressive anchor who merely peddles flawed practices.

Where Aparna, Nadia, and the Rest of the ‘Indian Matchmaking’ Cast Members Are Now

And of course I have. I really cannot stress this enough: Agrabah is not a real place! The genre, after all, encapsulates so much of the human condition, from its elegant docuseries to the shows where women throw wine at each other while their husbands mutter anti-gay slurs in the background.

The Netflix dating show updates the arranged marriage narrative—but leaves the custom’s major problems untouched.

Based on criteria they provide, clients are matched with ostensibly compatible dates, but they soon find that the goal of marriage is more difficult to attain that they had hoped — even with a matchmaker who consults biological data profiles, astrologers and face readers. Listen Listening Does the addictively bingeable series provide an accurate look at the process of arranged marriage for Indians and Indian Americans in ? Indians living in India approach marriage and dating differently than Indians living in the U.

And Indians who have emigrated to the U. The point is: there is no unilateral approach. Manisha Dass also notes the diversity. There’s major differences in how people think about dating in the generations before me and definitely location as well.

An honest perspective on Indian marriage culture in ‘Indian Matchmaking’

Two weeks ago Netflix debuted Indian Matchmaking , an eight-episode documentary series that follows Sima Taparia a matchmaker from Mumbai on her quest to find the perfect partner for a mix of South Asian people, both in India and in the U. While entertaining in parts, the show proved to be pretty triggering in a lot of ways. As a first-generation Indian girl who grew up in the U. Anaa: Oh my God.

Premier Personal Matchmaking Firm for Indian Singles in the US, Canada & the UK.

Follow Us. The controversial Netflix show has reignited debate over traditional marriage matches, but without interrogating harmful stereotypes, says Meehika Barua. One evening in late November when I was heading for a meeting in Holborn, my Indian friend, who is 25, texted me to say that she was getting married. Trains went by as I stood at London Bridge station, typing furiously, glaring at my phone.

The arranged marriage had been fixed up by her parents. She had met the guy, liked him, and so, they agreed to get married.

Commentary: What Netflix’s ‘Indian Matchmaking’ doesn’t tell you about arranged marriage

Analysis by S. Mitra Kalita , CNN. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what’s happening in the world as it unfolds. More Videos

Indian Matchmaking unpacks only selectively what an upper-class, upper-caste Indian marriage entails. It’s no coincidence that both the desi.

Reality TV dating shows are hotter than ever. Loved the opportunity to sit down and chat with vulture about life after the launch of indianmatchmaking last week. But unfortunately the couples she arranged for the show mostly flopped. None of the participants found love with the people she set them up with. One of the stars of the show, Rupam, ended up finding love on her own. She is now engaged to someone she met on a dating app. For example, Aparna is still in touch with three of the men she met thanks to the show.

Jay, for his part, still sees a future with Aparna. Even though they got along great, their relationship faded because he lives in Atlanta, and she lives in Houston. Distance may have kept them apart, but in the post-COVID world, distance dating is one of the only kinds. Aparna is open to meeting people through video dates. So thrilled by the amazing response and all the love for indianmatching on netflix Have you seen it?

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Essentially, she practices the age-old art of encouraging these crazy kids to just get together, already. By the show’s finale, has Taparia lived up to the title of matchmaker extraordinaire? Are any of the burgeoning couples on Indian Matchmaking still together? Indian Matchmaking gives no answers about the couples’ futures.

The show’s finale is open-ended—purposefully so.

INDIAN MATCHMAKING is a reality series about a Mumbai-based marriage consultant’s efforts to match compatible clients in hopes that it will.

Indian Matchmaking unpacks only selectively what an upper-class, upper-caste Indian marriage entails. All of it costs, moneh, honeh. Oodles of it. And who pays for it? We see none of it on the Netflix show because it needs to be palatable to a global audience. Anyone in India would be asking the one question: how much? That would be the real, true, authentic voice of a Big Fat Indian Wedding.

Why do we never hear what Sima aunty charges for her services? She, who is a service provider par excellence, flitting from one destination to another, her basket of goodies overflowing with the right biodatas. The ghoonghat or the veil may have gone, but the downcast eyes are still desirable. Even today, in many homes, the bahu serves the men and the children. Then she eats. If the baby cries, she needs to soothe it; if she is doing something else, she needs to drop it when anyone in the house requires her services.

What time she gets up, what time she sleeps, what she eats, how much intimacy is allowed between her and her husband is all decided for her.

Matchmaking In India


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