Wednesday, August 5, 2020
From the Washington Post:
But “Indian Matchmaking,” the Netflix reality show released last week, makes clear the Indian wedding industrial complex is no fantasy, and not just because none of the show’s couples actually make it to the altar. Instead, it highlights how the marriage market is uniquely besieged by the same divides and prejudices that run through large portions of Indian society.
The show, created by Smriti Mundhra, follows “Mumbai’s top matchmaker,” Sima Taparia. Armed with stacks of “biodata” — carefully vetted profiles that list a person’s qualifications and background — Taparia attempts to pair up not just compatible couples but also compatible families.
Though Taparia is shown repeating chants to ensure “good vibes” and visiting astrologers for horoscope readings, the show doesn’t just present archaic caricatures of arranged marriage. It carefully explains to non-Indian audiences that arranged marriages are actually considered the default for much of India — the most common way
couples get together. “In India … there is marriage and then love marriage,” Taparia says early on. Many of her clients have deeply relatable reasons for turning to her for help: wanting to find someone “serious,” looking for a partner who understands their culture, trying out alternatives to dating apps. There are also clips of successful couples who met through matchmakers and have been happily married for decades.
But the show also depicts people who unthinkingly normalize some of the most pernicious biases that plague South Asian communities. At no point does it make any effort to interrogate or dive deeper into these attitudes.