Why I Will Never Watch Sima Taparia's ‘Indian Matchmaking’, Not Even As Cringe-Binge

The fact that it is categorised as a reality show says alot about it, also one of the biggest reasons why I chose to stay away from cringe-binging it. Its not about how reality shows are perceived, because got known they can make a lot of money, but because it uses the crux of Indian traditions as a content strategy to mint money off. Indian Matchmaking follows Sima Taparia, a Marriage Consultant living in Mumbai, essentially a matchmaker who helps people film their perfect match for a happily ever after. However, what comes before that is not pretty or healthy for your self-esteem.

SEE ALSO: ‘Indian Matchmaking Season 2’ Drops, Twitter Has Hard Time Watching With A Straight Face

If you are to take a look at Sima’s clients, most of them are NRIs and men and women with richer backgrounds, people who can afford her fees. Definitely not the demographic that’s going to watch the show. Though, it does make it easier for the audience to not take the show seriously. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of shows that had done something similar in the past, but Indian Matchmaking is essentially not for Indians, the homelanders who live in the country and see and understand these traditions and are working hard to get around the deep-rooted misogyny in it. Indian Matchmaking is packaged for the rest of the world, originally shot in English for the people who barely understand the shallowest parts of Indian traditions, and will take this show at its face value leading to more misunderstandings about India.

While it might be an interesting concept for foreigners, to us Desi people, the show is just a reminder of how far we have fallen. It works as a mirror to show how long we have been accepting these unacceptable traditions. Indian Matchmaking is more than cringy or second-hand embarrassment. The family members on the show have said some of the most sexist things ever said on camera by a nonfictional person: “The bride has to change and compromise for the family. Not the boy. Those are the values we were raised with,” said Preeti, mother of the 23-year-old groom, Akshay (Season1).

Even Indians have taken the show lightly, as a comedy or a reality show that sort of represents the truth of our society. One of the episodes began with Sima’s advice for all youngsters, “First comes marriage then comes love. Everything can be adjusted after marriage, you have to adjust a little then life becomes smooth.” This could work for people who don’t necessarily have to worry about comprising, which is a very small niche. It’s not for everyone, including the couples paired in season one. Not all of them have had happily ever after, and that’s the case in reality too.

Sima in promos has confessed that she has worked with people for years to find a perfect match. But even for her, it isn’t about the bachelor and bachelorette. The common theme throughout the series is that weddings are about families, about what looks good, and about comprise. It is something the Indian youngsters are trying hard to let go of. Arrange marriages have worked for years because people (women) didn’t have any other option, and they still do for a lucky few. But Indian society is still trying to accept identity and love before marriage, and let go of the deep-rooted misogyny in it. On the other hand, when shows like these take flight and become famous, it makes you wonder how far are we willing to go and hide our own faults.

SEE ALSO: Karan Johar Is Turning Into A Matchmaker For Celebrities With Koffee With Karan Season 7

Not to mention the show continues to exercise some sort of casteism, colorism, elitism, and sexism. Taparia while meeting her clients would often say they need to be taller or fairer or adjust more — in the case of female clients. The whole idea is based on how good you can look on paper so that the kundalis can match. This also includes how Indian women are educated on being good and sweet and nice to people instead of being empowered and to stand for themselves. The Netflix series has packaged Indian matchmaking traditions as something about being star-crossed lovers and finding love when the concept was once about wealth and servitude for men and security for women.

For the run time of the show, it is easy to think of arranged marriage as a no-bullshit approach to modern relationships. You can call it speed dating to find the right match but the truth is as far from reality as Sima Taparia’s expectation are from a bride. Instead of confronting these traditions, the show continues to treat the discrimination as a joke, and refuses to hold the industry accountable. The show glorifies toxic stereotypes and it’s far from something to be proud of.

Matching making in India has been a business and so is the wedding industry, but now, it has become the world’s biggest reality show with an Emmy nomination. Every Indian’s reaction to Sima Taparia’s Emmy nomination is really how India feels about the show. It’s not about pride, the show sucks on all accounts.

Cover Image: Instagram


John Colin

I am a technology journalist with over two decades of press experience. I have spent much of the last ten years, focusing on open source, tech gadgets, data analytics and intelligence, Internet of things, cloud computing, mobile devices, and data management. I'm a senior editor at Mashable's covering data analytics, venture capital, (SaaS) applications, cloud and enterprise software out of New York.

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