So, my significant other and I binged Indian Matchmaking Season 2 this past weekend.
Why the hell I did it, I don’t know, but I am going to try and save you the torture if I can…
As a South Asian male, I think I bring a very different perspective to this show than I would have if I was any other ethnicity or gender. I also think having lived in the western world for so long, my perspectives have evolved to be a lot different from cultural norms. All this paired with my own experiences, and I honestly was considering calling a therapist by the time I got through 8 episodes…
Honestly, there is a lot about this show that I’d like to rip to shreds, but I think Sanyukta Thakare wrote a very poignant piece in Mashable India that covers many of the major points that I won’t necessarily write about here. These include sexism (and other ism’s), toxic cultural values that work against young couples, and most importantly the whole glam fare of weddings in India. I also agree with Thakare that this show is not meant for the average desi viewer, but for a western, English-speaking audience.
I’m going to look at this film from my western-influenced perspective and provide my honest feedback. Well…feedback without getting ****** about it.
Compromise on what?!
I have come to hate this word so much, for more reasons than I can count. Compromise is good if you are stuck in the middle of the Atlantic ocean on a boat with limited supplies and you need to “compromise” on how much you eat so you don’t starve to death before help arrives.
Compromising who you are when you are a committing to a “till-death-do-us-part” vow is plain stupid. If someone is marrying you for who you are, then you are doing yourself and your partner a disservice by compromising and changing to fit an artificially created gap.
If you speak to people of desi culture in the western world, generational trauma and dysfunctional families are all concepts that they will explain to you (their words or their therapists). I feel this show focuses so much on specific cultural values without actually showing the every-day Indian and how they are evolving and navigating it. I would say that South Asian cultures back home are drastically changing, and are not reflected in this show more holistically.
I will give credit where credit is due. The show does feature the toxic nature of culture, including societal gossip and interfering extended families. These are all valid, and honestly explain a lot of why certain cast members behave and react the way they do. However, for some to brush things off as “there is a pooja for that” is insulting not only to Indian culture, but the fabric of Indian society, especially from a western context where individuals don’t necessarily have an opportunity to embrace and live out their culture as they would back in India.
I would have really appreciated if this show addressed, directly, the changing landscape of how desi people want to meet without always comparing it to the past. The fact that this show very candidly and with humour discusses how some women had only a “5 minute interview” to decide if she wanted to marry someone was mind shattering, not only because of the context of what was said but because it was all okay, even for today.
Bad Representation of Western South Asians
I have not seen a more cringe-worthy selection of cast members in a show in my life. Thakare and many other writers have discussed how this show features rich NRI’s that honestly cannot be representative of the general Indian population, even in the west.
And its true!
When I look at the people in this show, I see privileged, well-off Indians who are taking the idea of marriage as a joke. Even the matchmaking process feels like an agenda item for some of them. When I listen to some of the things that are being said on the show, especially about what they prioritize in a partner, I have to give pause and fathom what was just spoken out loud in front of others.
Like how can someone be extroverted and introverted at the same time? Like seriously?
How can you say that looks don’t matter, and then turn around and be like yeah they matter?
How can you lie about a situation, and contradict them in other conversations – which are seen by the whole world by the way!
You complain that people think you are not good enough, but then make out with someone else WHILE you are seeing someone else?
I feel the cast for this show was selected based on superficial reasons and their quirks, and not necessarily the value they bring to the storyline and the “purpose” (if there is one) of this show. Everyone in this world is different, and having a show that is representative is good. But how can most of them make you cringe?!
I felt there were genuine candidates like Arshneel Singh who had authentic interactions and didn’t display narcissistic or sexist views. He was the kind of individual who genuinely didn’t know where to start or what to do, and relied on a matchmaker (whatever their convoluted values maybe) to start the process. Heck, even his parents were open-minded and ensured that whatever his choice is, it will be his only. On the opposite side, Rinkle too had the sincerity and politeness that made the conversations between her and Arshneel adorable.
Yes, Arshneel is a rich NRI, but he’s a doctor who honestly has earned his position and doesn’t use it in any negative way. He isn’t flaunting how he is self made or how other prospects get intimidated by his car…
I feel westerners who will watch this show are going to get a very wrong impression of Indian culture, and the Indian marriage process as a whole. This is very much the same as watching Real Housewives and then trying to make parallels….for most of us, you can’t!
I’m very happy for those who find their significant other – and there are some (very few) really wonderful personal journeys in this show like that of Ashima and Pradhyuman – but I am not okay with confusing and stupid narratives that just makes for good TV.
If there is one thing I took away from this show is understanding how other people think, especially in desi culture and especially in the western world.
I am happily settled, but even for friendships, this show has given me some key red flags to look for in people that honestly never crossed my mind. If you are in that position of looking for a significant other, then you can put yourself through this torture to truly understand how some people think.
I don’t know why we need more unrealistic, niche reality shows but I guess where there is money to be made, people gotta do what they gotta do.
Matchmakers – whether people or apps – can play an important role in finding your significant other. Its a helpful resource that lets you kickstart that process. However this show, for me, made people to be a bunch of commodities with criteria sheets. Even in real life, matchmaking doesn’t feel this inorganic. All I will say is that I hope everyone finds their own true love as authentically and sincerely as possible, because life is too short for all this BS.
I appreciate my relationship a lot more after watching this show so, I guess, thank you?
If you must, Indian Matchmaking Season 1 and 2 is available to stream on Netflix.
Cover: Sima Aunty in ‘Indian Matchmaking’. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022