Indian Matchmaking

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Sima Taparia in 'Indian Matchmaking.'
Sima Taparia in 'Indian Matchmaking.'
Photo: Yash Ruparelia/Netflix

SHOW:

Indian Matchmaking

WHERE TO WATCH:

Netflix

OUR RATING

3/5 Stars

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

Elite Indian matchmaker Sima Taparia learns about her clients with painstaking precision - from interests and ambitions to in-depth astrological readings - as she guides them towards their perfect match. From Houston to Chicago to Mumbai, these young singles go on sometimes fun, sometimes awkward first dates - often with their family in tow - to discover whether these good-on-paper matches can turn into a love that lasts a lifetime.

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

I wanted so bad to hate Indian Matchmaking. Maybe it's because the very first episode was titled Slim, Trim and Educated and opened with a scene featuring codependent Akshay and his mom. Maybe it's because I'm a hopeless romantic and I don't want to consider "marriage" – arranged that is – over "love marriage". Or maybe it's the very idea of having an aunty interfere in my love life. But Sima Aunty isn't the random relative, twice removed, at a wedding, asking if you're next. Sima Aunty is the aunty you choose.

The series follows the Mumbai-based matchmaker who tries to set up singles, using her archive of bio-data, which includes profiles of people from all over the world. The show starts with stubborn Houston lawyer, Aparna, arrogant Mumbai jewellery designer and bachelor, Pradhyuman, and genuinely unlucky-in-love event planner, Nadia from New Jersey. Later we meet Vyasar, Ankita and Akshay – and Akshay's mom.

I'll say right off the bat, the series exposes one too many painful truths about the Indian community. "Slim, trim and educated" is one thing – treating your future daughter as property to be given away and requesting that she be "fair" and "flexible", for you, is unsettling and problematic. The clinging to stereotypical gender roles is an issue I've long struggled with growing up, and getting married into a traditional Indian family has only brought forward my refusal to never pour another cup of tea ever again. But I digress.

The show does, however, highlight much of these issues in a way that has you rolling your eyes right back. One of Sima Aunty's clients talks openly about being considered a "chalu" (immoral)  in the community because she's independent and has her own business. These problems are deeply ingrained in the community and I want to believe Netflix's very obvious inclusion of it was commentary, albeit passive-aggressive commentary. But I'm not quite sure if it was or if they completely missed the mark.

That being said, each of Sima Aunty's clients' stories run over several episodes, and the storytelling is done in such a way that you always want to watch the next episode. Whether it's to see if things work out for them or hear about how one client's father went to jail for murder, it almost always ends too soon. And the clients themselves are so interesting, you get invested in their love stories and end up rooting for them.

There's Nadia, who you're rooting for from the get-go and Vyasar who looks like he'd be so much fun to get to know. Pradhyuman doesn't seem like he actually wants to settle down, while Aparna is made to look like the show's diva and villain for her confidence and witty one-liners, when we all know Akshay's mom, Preeti, who had a wedding date set before Akshay found a girl, is the real villain of the show.

I'd just like to say Akshay's criteria – "I want someone just like my mother. I am very close to her, extremely close." – didn't do him any favours in making him look less useless. But his, and his mom's, story was the most entertaining. It had me going online afterwards to check if his "marriage" worked out – and if his mom's blood pressure finally dropped having married her son off at 25.

All in all, the show, for me, was quite entertaining – and it may even change your perspective on arranged marriages (the inserts of older couples who've been married for decades is definitely the best part of the series). Though it may not be for everyone, it's a new approach to the dating show that flips certain marital and dating norms on its head from a different cultural perspective. And I didn't hate it.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:


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