DHAHRAN: After the wildly popular “Love is Blind” and “Too Hot to Handle,” the latest Netflix reality show dipping its toe into the dating world is “Indian Matchmaking,” which has sparked mixed reactions since being released on the streaming site.
The show offers global audiences an insight into arranged marriages, a process of matchmaking that is still very popular among Indians and the Indian diaspora around the world. The eight-part series follows Sima Taparia, Mumbai’s top matchmaker, as she shuttles between India and the US to meet clients and their families.
Taparia observes their lifestyle, learns of their preferences (or let’s say their laundry list) and sets out to find a match for them from her extensive database, even going as far as consulting an astrologer and a face reader to ascertain suitable matches.
“Indian Matchmaking” opens with an interesting mix of characters – fussy Aparna, flamboyant Pradhyum and amiable Nadia – who go on first dates and family meetings that have been arranged by Taparia. The unscripted show has its moments of vulnerability and soul-searching, making even its overbearing characters somewhat likeable.
New characters are introduced at the halfway mark, but Taparia’s jaded narrative on the need to “compromise, adjust and be flexible” in an arranged marriage remains the same. Characters and their stories at this point seem rushed through, with a missed opportunity to address difficult conversations. In one instance, Taparia deems it hard to find a match for a single mother and, in another instance, half-heartedly hopes that potential suitors focus on her client’s personality as opposed to her client's looks.
Taparia also brushes away a fellow matchmaker’s advice on asking men and women what they truly want, as opposed to prioritizing parental or societal expectations and pressure.
A disastrous mother-son duo introduced in the latter half of the series may be one reason to continue watching the show. Or, as dating shows go, we become so invested in their love lives that we soldier on.
While The Hollywood Reporter’s verdict on Indian Matchmaking was “insightful, humorous and heartwarming,” it hit a nerve closer to home. Netizens have called out the show for glorifying problematic messages like colorism and casteism.
The creator and executive producer of “Indian Matchmaking,” Smriti Mundhra, believes that such criticism will help shine a light on taboo topics within the culture and “hopefully, we can change something.”
We hope so too.