Why are Indians so angry at 'Indian Matchmaking'?
Rage-watching Netflix’s new show
This weekend, my phone went into cardiac arrest, thanks to a raging storm called Indian Matchmaking. “What’s wrong with Netflix?”, “What’s this cringe content?” and “This is so OTT and gross.” The internet and 80% of my friends were losing their minds over Netflix’s latest original.
As I sped through the eight-episode tour of the country’s arranged marriage market, I laughed, cringed and felt the rage – yes, the show is as stinky as your neighbourhood fish market. It reeks of regression, patriarchy and society’s hypocrisy at large.
Mumbai’s top rishta aunty Sima Taparia is busy playing cupid for affluent Indians abroad and back home. Her entourage includes: panditjis, face readers, life coaches and regressive sass –“Aparna is very strong-headed and not flexible. It will be difficult to find a boy for her”, “Girls are so educated nowadays; they don’t want to compromise.”
So why are we rage-watching Indian Matchmaking?
Because it’s hit the bull’s eye on our bullshit. And our foreign-educated, upper middle-class double standards are suddenly hanging out for the world to see.
Unlike Paatal Lok and Sacred Games, whose fictional realities were set in worlds far removed from ours, allowing us to distance ourselves from their inconvenient truths, director Smriti Mundhra’s reality show has us feeling as naked as the Emperor in his new clothes.
We put Netflix with its foreign language shows and path-breaking titles on a pedestal of moral high ground. We believed our annual membership was proof of our wokeness and progressive world view. Shows about saas bahu drama belonged on the tacky channels your nani watches on her old dabba TV.
No wonder Indian Matchmaking feels like a betrayal to this unspoken pact. “Et tu Netflix, then fall all of us”.
“Here in the US, it has become the talk of the town. On one hand, they think the matchmaker aunty was nice and did her best, but on the other hand, they were shocked that almost the entire cast and their families were in search of ‘fair and thin’ spouses,” says Amna Qoordheere.
The ugly truth
Despite our Twitter rants against colourism, casteism and beauty standards, the show sharply points out that when the time comes to choosing a life partner, it’s a family circus and Mum’s the word. Cue statements like “We are Sindhi, so a Sindhi match would be ideal” and “She has to be above 5ft 3inches. Only then they will look good together.”
Your janampatri or kundali is more crucial than your education. You will be told that Jupiter is driving you away from your true love and investing in a sapphire ring will put Saturn back in the driver’s seat.
As Shirin Mathne Chakre says, “It’s quite entertaining to see where we have reached as a society. On one hand, we see a girl is independent, ambitious, and on the other, she goes for horoscope matching.”
So don’t be mad at Netflix for greenlighting such a “cringy, shady show”.
Indian Matchmaking isn’t “normalising patriarchal tropes” — it’s merely disabusing us of the delusion that they only exist in Indian villages, and not in our gated communities and suburban high-rises.
And clearly, we can’t handle the truth.
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