All the bad reviews of ‘Indian Matchmaking’ when put together will be more entertaining content than the show itself. Yes, I am talking about the new reality series on Netflix, which can only go from worse to worst. I do not think I will ever recover from this assault of a show. To quote Chandler here with a tweak, “It’s like someone wrote Indian singleton’s worst nightmare and charged us our mental peace to watch it”.
The title of the show is self-explanatory. However, if you look at this series as a middle class millennial from India, it looks like just another excuse for the rich and affluent families to shell out money to find a potential partner for their kids who doesn’t even know what they want. Heck, they do not even know if they want to get married. And, if you look at it as an Indian singleton approaching 30, it looks like that annoyingly nosey aunty you meet at a family gathering who snoops around in your personal life and have now created biodatas out of it and charges a whooping amount to share them around.
I wish I could say that everything about this show is mendacious, but I am afraid I cannot. As a modern woman, I feel most of the things said or shown here highlights everything that we are trying to fight: negative body images, superficial beauty standards, requirement of submissive and family oriented daughters-in-law, shallow societal thinking, questionable astrology and face reading practices, the list goes on. This show is the summation of all the things that is wrong with our arranged marriage system and would serve as a great testimony if we ever decide to abolish it.
It is difficult to imagine that a widely followed OTT platform such as Netflix is streaming such content. And that too alongside, progressive feminist series like Orange is The New Black, Jane the Virgin, Call the Midwife, Cable girls, Chewing Gum to name a few. At this time and age, when we hope for aspirational content to break barriers and set new precedents, it is revolting to see series and movies that throws the good feminist fight under the bus. Even ‘Sex and the City’ which was first aired in 1998, more than two decades ago, better portrayed the journey and struggle of finding love and companionship.
What is more alarming is our society’s representation of modern independent women. Aparna’s storyline was hyped in a way that she came across as someone who is too much into her work and travelling, and hardly has a time to commit to a relationship. Sima aunty even went on to say that Aparna is ‘picky’ and has too much expectations from her life partner. To which Aparna gave a fitting reply that every other person is given to us without our choice- father, mother, siblings. Husband is the only person that you need to choose for yourself, and that makes it a tough job. The Indian Face reader even went on to say that, “Aparna is someone who would want a submissive husband. Somebody who wouldn’t mind even if she were to slap him”. But of course, a husband is supposed to provide for his wife, and if the woman is herself successful, she would only want someone to boss around. Rupam, the single mother with a child, is shown as if she is expecting too much from her life partner and will have to compromise in her demands. Sima did not even shy away from telling her that her options would be less owing to her history. How dare a single mother with a child dream!
Our society does not know how to deal with its strong headed woman who has both an opinion and high expectations from life. A highly educated and successful career woman is often denigrated as ‘not family oriented’, ‘rigid and stubborn’, or ‘too set in her ways’. After making a name for themselves, the society pressurises them to get married, abide by the set rules of her new family, have children, make breakfasts and pack tiffin for the husband for the rest of her life, learn to comprise, and to go with the flow. Like in the series, when Ankita says she worked so hard to start her company in Delhi, and the other matchmaker Gita asks her, “But, what if your husband gets a job in Timbuktu, will you not go with him?”. Another example is Akshay’s fiancé Radikha. When she says she wants to be a working woman and not idly sit around the house, Akshay thinks out loud ‘but, I want someone to do all the work in the house that mom does’. Yes, that same Akshay who couldn’t even come up with his own list of criteria for a potential partner and had to borrow his mother’s list.
In this abysmal series, the only forerunner of progressive thinking was Ankita. From beginning till the end, she stood by what she believed in, refused to mellow down to fit into society’s needs and demands, and decided to instead focus on her career. Because sometimes, doing pottery is more fulfilling than compromising in an imbalanced marriage.