On some corners of the internet, it wasn’t possible to go through your social media feeds over the last week and a half without seeing something connected to Indian Matchmaking, a reality show on Netflix that follows an arranged-marriage matchmaker working with Indian American clients.
The series focuses on Sima Taparia, a matchmaker from Mumbai who works with upper-class families in both India and the United States to connect couples that fit into the sort of criteria that are par for the course in Indian arranged marriages: income, skin colour, education levels and much more.
Given Netflix’s ability to move the cultural needle just by dropping a new show and some positive reviews in the American press, the show was always going to cause something of a splash, both in India and in the diaspora.
And sure enough, it has inspired memes, debates about what the show represents and a not insubstantial number of people wondering why so many are watching the show while also telling the world how much they dislike it.
The web has also been flooded with commentary on the show, from threads about personal experiences to breaking down what Indian Matchmaking says about Indian and diaspora society.
Here are just a few of the things you should read on the show, whether or not you’ve been binge-watching it.
- “Taparia makes the stakes of this show infuriatingly clear in the introduction itself – marriage is about families, millions of dollars are at stake, caste is important and ‘adjustment’ is required,” writes Nehmat Kaur. “It’s everything we pretend marriage isn’t about, presented baldly through people we (many Netflix-subscribing urban Indians) can’t help but see ourselves in. The show is stressful because it confronts us with our own loneliness, presents marriage as a solution and accomplishment, but then reveals the process of getting there to be an exercise in self-erasure – sorry, “compromise.”
- “The show’s anti-Blackness, casteism, and focus on North Indian Hindu hegemony emerge with the sharpest clarity through it’s storyline about Nadia, a Guyanese woman,” writes Namrata Verghese. “While Nadia is ostensibly a perfect matrimonial candidate in every aspect (she’s conventionally attractive, educated, ‘jolly’), Sima underscores the difficulty inherent in finding men open to marrying a Guyanese person. This casteist attitude permeates the show, from the frequent onscreen visits to pundits to Sima’s constant emphasis on the importance of ‘good’ upbringing and ‘good’ family – thinly veiled code for upper-caste and upper-class.”
- “By allowing Taparia a global platform to peddle such blind reliance on superstition and packaging it as ‘Indian tradition’ without countering any of it, Indian Matchmaking feeds into the very generalisations that are detrimental to the understanding of India in the first place,” writes Poulomi Das. “Besides, the show’s steadfast refusal to have its own opinion on arranged marriage invariably means that Indian Matchmaking advocates Taparia’s questionable views.”
- Not everyone has found the show uncomfortable to watch, says Shrabonti Bagchi: “Here’s the thing – although most people started off with the intention of hate-watching the show, by Sunday they were watching in earnest. And it wasn’t even the cringe-cringe, ‘so bad it’s good’ kind of consumption – we cared about these complex, confused, real people who had allowed us a peek into their vulnerabilities. With the world crumbling around us, a shot of voyeurism is the perfect antidote to sadness.”