A Netflix show “Indian Matchmaking” has made South Asian audiences of all age groups turn heads! What is it that is making people drawn to this show? It is the simple reality of our Indian stereotypes!
Indian Matchmaking is a show where an Indian matchmaker Sima Taparia navigates us through the “Industry of Arranged Marriages” in India and in America. The show revolves around Indian singles who are looking forward to finding potential partners but, hold on! Their search is not unconditional as one would imagine the changing landscapes to be. Most of these singles and their parents give out a long list of conditions they look for in a partner. Sima Taparia has pointed out very aptly how these conditions are not a prerequisite for a happy marriage.
At first, every Indian watching this show is not shocked by the content of the show but, the portray of the industry on an international landscape! But, we cannot blame Netflix for this show! For the simple reason that this is a reality show which has encompassed Indian Singles with different backgrounds and cultures within the Indian space. We see Aparna, who is a lawyer from Houston; Pradyuman, a jewellery designer from South Bombay; Vyasar, a College Counselor from Austin, Texas; Rupam, a single mother from Colorado; Nadia, a wedding planner from New Jersey; Akshay, a 25-year-old businessman from South Bombay and a few very different characters do very often see each other. This show is not a work of fiction but rather a reflection of reality. The show also brings out aspects like Astrology, Chanting and Face reading along with matching the horoscopes and how the stars have to be aligned in order to get a match!
As one proceeds from the show, one realizes how Indian parents abroad are still fixated on the same idea that careers beyond medicine, technology, finance or law are still frowned upon! At one point, it was very uncomfortable to watch Aparna’s mother call an author of several books a “Loser!” because he does not fit in with the stereotypical standards of what South Asians’ believe is “Successful”.
The show has also brought to light how involved the families are in the decision-making of matchmaking. Unlike the American notion, where the families are often isolated from the decision-making process Indians continue to be involved in their children’s married life. Not only are the expectations of the singles taken into consideration, but the list is also inclusive of what the family of these singles wants. Family is everything! Similarly, not only is the single being judged on their resume, but their families are also judged. Vyasar’s family involves a criminal father who is in prison and he was raised by a single-mother who puts his profile down even though he is an Ivy-league educated fun-loving lively college counselor. This is a sad part of the culture which judges you for mistakes not committed by you or by someone you had no control over.
Even the position of divorced men and women with children in Indian society is portrayed realistically and not in a utopian manner. Rupam, who is a single mother, is outrightly told that your pool of potential matches is much less. Even Sima Taparia accepts that she does not accept profiles of single-mothers since society looks down upon them.
Throughout, the show the Resume’s of these singles are shown time and again where the physical aspects of the individuals, their career, their height, their location and family’s caste and background is so accurate that it makes it relatable to every Indian household which has seen an arranged marriage.
The uncomfortable part of the show comes from the patriarchal notions reflected by singles like Guru, a lawyer from New York and Akshay and Pradhyuman both from Mumbai. Guru is taken aback when Nadia orders a mimosa which reflects how one perceives women not to drink alcohol. This is still the new age of patriarchy. The most uncomfortable views were shared by the Bombay boys, who both sought out trophy wives. In their definition, the girl should be fair, attractive and should agree with the family. At one point in time, Akshay talks to a potential match and she shares a view that she wishes to work and manage her business to which his response is “ But if you work who will take care of the children?”. It only reflects how far the feminist movements in Indian communities have reached.
This is a new concept which Netflix has explored and brought a new flavor to the traditional Indian content. It’s a reality for the South Asian and Indian communities and just a reflection! It does help us provide a reality-check of how far we have come or how far we have not come!