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In Netflix’s ‘Indian Matchmaking,’ Arranged Marriage Is The Anti-Entanglement
Amid this unimaginably chaotic year, there are few things as surreal as experiencing a major life change having hardly stepped foot outside of your home. But while debate about the show continues, fans have expressed an outpouring of appreciation and enthusiasm for Ankita, whose experience as a modern, career-oriented woman looking for an equal partner has resonated with women across the globe.
Ultimately the series ended—spoiler alert!
The controversial Netflix show Indian Matchmaking has reignited debate over traditional arranged marriages in India, but without interrogating.
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Indian Matchmaking: The ‘cringe-worthy’ Netflix show that is a huge hit
On Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking,” marriage consultant Sima Taparia travels the world to meet with hopeful clients and help them find the.
I can give her…95 marks out of It is reflective, sometimes painfully, of a custom with which we are all too familiar: arranged marriages. For desis, either your parents were arranged or you know a couple that was. Some people—yep, even millennials—willingly enter into arranged marriages, as seen on the new reality show. While the show portrays arranged marriages in a positive although at times, vulnerable light, it simultaneously showcases the problems plaguing the ancient tradition—problems that Netflix account holders across America were quick to point out.
The casual, rampant racism on IndianMatchmaking is wild, and I fear fair will fly right over the heads of all the white people watching. The super-popular show has garnered criticism for its messages of colorism , classism, and body-shaming. I mean, take your pick. So why are brown people, like myself, forced to answer for a cultural institution I played no part in creating? The uncomfortable truth is that while these shows perpetuate equally harmful ideas about love and marriage, Indian Matchmaking confirms biases against Indian cultures, making it easier to criticize.
No one looks at Western reality shows as representative of white, American dating culture.
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Then there was the time my dad told me I was disinvited to his future funeral, because my preference was to date whomever I wanted as opposed to accepting an arranged marriage and that was an embarrassment to the family. He conveniently denies this ever happened, for the record. The reality show follows Sima Taparia, a professional matchmaker from Mumbai who travels around the world helping Indian clients find suitable matches for marriage.
Rather, marriage is a transaction between two families.
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Every reality show has at least one villain. As Sima and the show itself frequently remind us, arranged marriage is not quite the form of social control it used to be; everyone here emphasizes that they have the right to choose or refuse the matches presented to them. But as becomes especially clear when Sima works in India, that choice is frequently and rather roughly pressured by an anvil of social expectations and family duty. In the most extreme case, a year-old prospective groom named Akshay Jakhete is practically bullied by his mother, Preeti, into choosing a bride.
Indian Matchmaking smartly reclaims and updates the arranged marriage myth for the 21st century, demystifying the process and revealing how much romance and heartache is baked into the process even when older adults are meddling every step of the way. Though these families use a matchmaker, the matching process is one the entire community and culture is invested in.
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Matchmaker Sima Taparia guides clients in the U. Sima meets three unlucky-in-love clients: a stubborn Houston lawyer, a picky Mumbai bachelor and a misunderstood Morris Plains, N. Friends and family get honest with Pradhyuman. Sima consults a face reader for clarity on her clients. A setback with Vinay temporarily discourages Nadia. Sima offers two more prospects to Aparna. Feeling the pressure, Pradhyuman finally goes on a date.
Nadia has a promising date. Pradhyuman sees a life coach. Sima sends Aparna to an astrologer and seeks a cultural match for guidance counselor Vyasar. A date with a model uplifts Pradhyuman. Vyasar and Rashi instantly bond. As Akshay rejects over 70 matches, Preeti gives him an ultimatum.
The South Asian stories you need to know
What influences our youth to set aside their enterprising, free-wheeling spirit to follow the well-trodden path of arranged marriages? Part of the answer lies in the deep socialisation process, which is woven into the fabric of the close-knit extended Indian family, and its rootedness in the larger network of society. The young too seem to believe in the cultural definition of marriage as a family affair, rather than an individual undertaking.
Harmony and shared values arising from common backgrounds are seen as more important than individual attraction. The common grounds provided by an arranged match — familiar customs, foods, relatives, incomes, etc — also helps in negotiating the dark thicket of matchmaking.
On matrimonial websites, many men and women handle their own profiles and are able to exercise agency in choosing the right match.
To her surprise, the year-old met her future husband and is set to get married in January next year. Mumbai-based Anindita Dey—married for over a year now — also met her husband through her parents. However, Anindita makes it clear that while it was her parents who set up the meeting, the final decision was completely hers.
Louis Superman, which she shared with Sami Khan. Because Indian Matchmaking follows matchmaker Sima Taparia analysing families and boys and girls to find suitable matches. In an age when people believed to be largely pushing away the stereotypes, breaking free from the regressive patriarchal mind-set of society, this show throws light on the ugly truth of Indian matchmaking. In other words, it hits the bullseye when showcasing the circus that Indian marriages, mostly considering how even the most well-to-do families can’t still avoid checking the kundali, complexion or height among other conventional criteria.
But it simultaneously hurts because it is the reality that people face once in their lifetimes and want to forget. Sima Taparia, who has been a matchmaker since , finds nothing backward in her business. In India anyway, 50 percent are love marriages but people mostly want arranged ones, as those marriages last long. No matter how much the show makes one twitch, the truth is that a large population of Indians still opt for an arranged marriage.
Despite Twitter rants on the show, calling it out for promoting colourism, cast and beauty standards, Indian Matchmaking elucidates the reality of Indian household loud and clear on the screen. Shahzeen Shivdasani, a relationship expert and the author of Love, Lust and Lemons, reckons that arranged marriages can be a good way to meet a life partner, but she is also among those highly disappointed with the show.
I was worried about the judgement that would come with it. I had to sit with that for a while and evaluate my reaction. It became very evident that I was trying to protect the problematic nature of traditions in my culture. The way love is defined changes over time, alongside our accessibility to the world; one screen swipe away. This system is global and established politically as well as socially. Traditions in India have perpetuated these ideals to an unhealthy standard, which explains why the biggest selling beauty product in India is a skin lightening cream.
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Now available to stream, the series follows Mumbai-based matchmaker Sima Taparia as she painstakingly works with singles and their families in India and America to find desirable mates for marriage. One client, New Jersey-based event planner Nadia, wonders if her Indian-ness will come into question because of her Guyanese heritage. With the global reach of Netflix, Mundhra saw an opportunity to present a look at dating and relationships through the very specific lens of the South Asian experience that would reach a wide audience.
That we have all sorts of different backgrounds, different ideals and ideologies. I think you can sort of learn a lot just from the examples and the specific journey of the participants.
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The Mumbai-based matchmaker Sima Taparia delivers this meme-friendly one-liner in the seventh episode of the hit Netflix series Indian Matchmaking. But she departs from this well-worn model in her attention to one extra characteristic: caste. This silent shadow hangs over every luxurious living room she leads viewers into. She lumps an entire social system, which assigns people to a fixed place in a hierarchy from birth, together with anodyne physical preferences.
This prejudiced treatment includes, but is hardly limited to, workplace discrimination in the United States. For example, the state of California sued the tech company Cisco in June for allegedly failing to protect a Dalit employee from discrimination by his higher-caste Brahmin managers. When a popular show like Indian Matchmaking neglects this alarming fact of the Indian American experience, it quietly normalizes caste for a global audience.
Contrary to what some viewers might think, the caste system is an active form of discrimination that persists in India and within the Indian American diaspora. One of the primary functions of arranged marriage is maintaining this status quo. That explains why people in dominant castes often carry out brutal violence against their own family members who dare to marry outside their caste, particularly if a partner is Dalit. Last year, in Maharashtra, a father reportedly doused his daughter and her Dalit husband in kerosene and lit them on fire to condemn their intercaste marriage.
These attacks are part of a pattern of families punishing relatives for rejecting marriages arranged on the basis of caste.