Disclaimer: All the opinions about this show, Indian Matchmaking, on Netflix are my own. If you don’t agree with me, I am okay with it, and you should be too! 🙂
“I am both happy and sad at the same time, and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I am as confused as that after watching a show on Netflix.
Indian Matchmaking released on Netflix on July 16th 2020. And we all obliged to binge-watch it. The Indian culture has always been intriguing – for good. I take pride in the rich culture and heritage India has to offer. Of course, it took me ages to look beyond the false narratives I have been fed since childhood. But now, I have developed my own set of rules to follow before believing or discarding anything. But we are not talking about that here.
I have not really spoken a lot about any ‘internet trends’ because I take many shows as a source of entertainment only. But man, this show is something! The more I think about it, the more it disturbs me. I am not against arranged marriages. I am not someone who believes in it. But Indian Matchmaking has made sure that I don’t support it either. Marriage is no obligation nor its an accomplishment. It’s high time we start believing in this school of thought!
Indian Matchmaking: The why, the what and the what the f*ck?
The first time I watched the trailer, I thought it would be another of those entertaining reality show drama like Love is Blind. I enjoyed it even after completely being against the whole concept itself. You can not love someone without looking at them! But that was the whole idea, right? To make people see that love can happen even without seeing someone at first! It did not cause me to form a preconceived notion about anyone.
But this show, Indian Matchmaking, has tested my tolerance level. Though at first, the show seemed like an innocent idea to acquaint the Western world about this whole institution of arranged marriages. But boy, I was wrong, so wrong!
If you think that the Indian matchmakers generally take into consideration your interests when finding a match, hold your horse. They will match everything like caste, lineage and horoscopes but interests.
The reason arranged marriage is predominantly a “Desi” thing is because it is rooted in caste. Its not about finding love, it’s about keeping the bloodline “pure” or some other such nonsense. This institution needs to die, not be given a Netflix special. #IndianMatchmaking— Uday (@UdaySRana) July 17, 2020
This eight-episode long series shows how a matchmaker, Sima Auntie, finds a suitor for her clients. Her clients here are, mostly, the parent of the girl or the boy, who are of the marriageable age and hell will let loose if they don’t get married on time.
Yes, the show then starts to unveil each and every evil of the Indian society that is highly regressive in nature. While everyone is looking for a good, tall and handsome/beautiful match for themselves, it has been highlighted numerous times how marriage is a compromise and how it is going to be challenging to find a match for an independent girl.
I think that every individual is entitled to wish for a reasonably attractive partner for themselves, so I will not call out any character of the show. In fact, I don’t even feel like calling out the matchmaker for being so cringeworthy and regressive in her opinions. Why? Because she belongs to a particular generation whom you cannot transform in a day or two. And all the things she talks about is definitely a part of Indian society. What does it take to be a professional matchmaker? One doesn’t have to be anything more than the nosy neighbourhood aunty, with loads of free time in her hand and the passion to interfere in other people’s business.
When I know its true, then why am I outraging here?
It’s because of all the things, the ideologies that I have been fighting against are standing right in front of me. And it’s being normalized as Indian culture. I am sure there are a lot of people like me who can not stop watching the show yet hate it to the core. Why are we loving the show? Because there is drama. Or is it because it’s relatable? Why are we hating it? Because it has simply burst our very own bubble of modern lifestyle. The sh*t still happens. This show is infuriatingly truthful and we are so scared to admit that!
Compromise: The Golden Rule of Indian Matchmaking
We have been conditioned to think that marriage is a compromise. The matchmaker has also made it very clear in every episode. However, the show has also made it apparent that the compromise comes from one particular gender. And you get no points for guessing who that is! I will talk about it a li’l more in the post later.
I don’t know if asking a girl to leave everything she has built for herself, just to be with her husband is not regressive then what is. These are the things you TALK before you get into something. And people do that even in arranged marriage setups.
Let us Stereotype Indians as if it was not done enough already!
When you belong to a particular culture and region, there are a lot of stereotypes that get associated with you. And for a country of 1.3 billion individuals, you have to have a huge sample size to stereotype India. I have ranted about the stereotyping already.
This show has not just normalized the concept of casteism and economic inequality, it has stereotyped us even more as if it was not happening enough in the west. No, we don’t arrange our marriages like that. Not all of us. Every time someone asks me here if I was married, I am usually prepared for the very next question – if mine was an arranged marriage? And then, they would automatically stereotype me as a rebel. No, you don’t have to be a rebel to marry a person of your choice. Not any more.
Look, by saying that I know I am probably representing a small proportion of the population of India. But I am also representing a large part of the Netflix generation too! But Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking has successfully convinced people that the stereotyping is absolutely accurate.
My tipping point: How Indian Girls are Educated yet not Empowered
This is the feminist in me talking. Yes, there is a particular character in the show who is portrayed as being a difficult girl. And everyone watching the show agrees to it. I found her difficult too. She is an attorney and is extremely selective when it comes to finding a life partner. Let us say she is being extra cautious while choosing a guy. She is a workaholic and humorous people doesn’t interest her. Everyone, even the generation which doesn’t believe in arranged marriages, finds her tiresome because she is not letting her walls down. I gave it a thought, and it’s not at all bad.
We have been conditioned so much to look at every matrimonial alliance as a compromise that we all, along with Sima Auntie, think that she is being too complicated. Why can’t she compromise? If guys are entitled to find themselves a ‘fair’ girl, then why isn’t a reasonably independent girl allowed to find herself a husband who is as workaholic as herself?
The show has some instances which are more dramatic than Karan Johar’s movies. It is still too difficult for me to believe that a part of the uber-rich society still has such young kids who have good education and even then give in to their mom’s highly unrealistic whims and fancies? You will find that in this show. Do you think that is awkward? Read on!
If I meet someone for the first time and he decides not to tell me everything about his past life, it’s more than acceptable. But when I meet someone through a matchmaker, who is trusted by my family, I expect to know the significant events of his life like a divorce. I will, of course, meet him. But I want no surprises like these. This too happens in the show.
Not to my surprise, the matchmaker has no problem with it. I am just trying to figure out her reaction if it was a girl whose past was kept a secret before the first meeting! Just saying, people usually talk on the phone before letting their kids meet. Yes, Indian families are still archaic, as portrayed in the show, but they ain’t technically challenged!
And finally, though every episode of Indian Matchmaking opens with a happily married couple, who are married for decades, talking about why arranged marriages are the best, none of the suitable boys and girls in the show are hitched right now. It even shows one successful match which eventually did not culminate into marriage. Here is the source of this news and, of course, the spoiler!
I have no verdict to pass on for the show. I watched it. But I won’t recommend it to anyone.