Netflix's Matchmaking Hit: Guilty Pleasure or Hate-Watch?

'Indian Matchmaking' has obsessive fans, but critics have some issues
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2020 10:00 AM CDT

The majority of marriages in India are still arranged, and often families recruit outside help to get them set up. That's where Sima Taparia, the self-proclaimed "top matchmaker" of Mumbai, steps in, via a new Netflix series that's left people clamoring for more. Indian Matchmaking has become a viewing obsession for many since the eight-part reality show debuted earlier this month, showing Taparia trying to set up affluent clients in both India and the US. But the show has also become a lightning rod of sorts, dividing its viewership into those who say it's an honest depiction of the arranged-marriage system, and those who hate-watch it for its antiquated attitude toward 21st-century relationships—"a disturbing reminder of patriarchy and misogyny, casteism and colorism," per the BBC. More on the show from around the internet:

  • 'Cringe-binge-watching': NPR lays out in further detail some of the criticisms of the show, including that women are told by the 57-year-old Taparia to "adjust and compromise" in order to find a mate. The motivation for many to find "fair-skinned" partners is also on display, highlighting the "harmful, regressive brutality" of discrimination against darker-skinned Indians.

  • Another head-shake: Sonia Saraiya concurs on the major issues, noting for Vanity Fair that "what I want from Indian Matchmaking is probably impossible: Not just an exploration of arranged marriage, but a true reckoning with its limitations." She also explains what happened to her personally when she opted out of the matchmaking system.
  • An eye-opener for the masses: Shruti Dhapola agrees the show is problematic, but as she writes for the Indian Express, while the show "might be a reality TV cringefest, many of the ideas expressed around 'arranged' marriage are very much alive and real"—including that it's the woman who usually has to compromise.
  • 'Validation': Mallika Rao says the show is "just telling it like it is." In her piece for New York magazine, Rao says she "did not feel anger, but a bemused relief, even validation" while watching it. Rao, an Indian American, dated and married a white man, then divorced him, and she doesn't regret her choice to leave behind all cultural expectations: "When the game itself is dirty, why yell at a mirror pointed at it, reflecting the moves for all to see?"
  • Answers for the uninitiated: Variety replies to 10 questions about Indian matchmaking to help out those who aren't familiar with the process, including why everyone on the show has their own "biodata."

  • A controversial star: One of the women Taparia tries to match, Aparna Shewakramani, has a reputation for being picky. New York magazine rounds up some of the things the 35-year-old "simply cannot stand," including passionately romantic men, the majority of her first dates, the outdoors, and comedy.
  • In defense of Aparna: Some go to bat for Shewakramani, including Alison Herman, who writes at the Ringer that "most of Aparna's over-the-top tendencies are just understandable instincts taken too far." For example, Herman writes, "what's so villainous about hating boring dates?"
  • More from Aparna: New York features an in-depth interview with Shewakramani, in which she talks about why she decided to do the show, her interactions with Taparia, and whether she still keeps in touch with some of her "matches."
  • Sima on the backlash: Taparia realizes she's acquired some haters, but she tells Pinkvilla she loves the memes that have been generated about her and that the criticism "makes me stronger."
(More Netflix stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.