Indian matchmaking—a show some people love, and others love to hate—is back. And after generating plenty of controversy and debate among viewers in the series’ first season, which helped to make the show very popular, its creators do not seem to have learned from their mistakes. In its second season, the Netflix series, which is still centered around Sima Taparia, the matchmaker, highlights some of the problems in the industry. It fails to address them.
Season 1 was criticized by many, but viewers enjoyed the glimpse into modern matchmaking and were entertained along with their stories. From Pradhyuman’s liquid nitrogen foxnuts to Akshay’s mother’s blood pressure, fans enjoyed seeing the ridiculous behaviors of Sima’s ultra-rich clients, and also related to the emotional journeys of cast members like Vyasar, Ankita, and Nadia.
But for a show that is supposed to offer a modern look at this process, its first season showed Sima representing some of the most regressive parts of the industry, with veiled references to caste, declarations that people are looking for “slim, trim, tall and fair” girls, and careless remarks like “if females are lawyers in India, people are scared.” Even if Sima’s views reflect the reality for many families going through the matchmaking process, these harmful and flippant comments were problematic because the show allowed them to be presented without question. Season 2 continues to focus on stories about affluent and fair North Indians. The episodes have a different cast but more of the same.
A single docuseries can’t offer a fully comprehensive view of a country or a culture. But despite the constructive criticism season 1 received, season 2 continues many of the first season’s mistakes. It has been renewed for season 3, which will be focused on matchmaking in Britain. There are four different ways to watch the show. Indian matchmakingCan improve season 3.
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Modern matchmaking is possible
Nadia Season 2
Season 2 will continue the story of Sima Taparia. She is a matchmaker who has been criticized for her biases and double standards. Although she describes herself as “Mumbai’s top matchmaker,” she had no success with matching clients from last season and represents a traditional way of matchmaking, continually telling her clients to be patient, compromise, and be prepared to receive only 60 to 70% of what they’re looking for, even though many don’t want to settle down until they find the right partner.
Season 2 introduces five new cast members: Akshay, Viral, Arshneel, Shital, and Vinesh, all of whom have high expectations for their partners but don’t seem to learn much from the matchmaking process. However, we do see Nadia, Aparna and Pradhyman returning to the cast with positive outlooks and personal growth.
In many ways, season 2 offers a more realistic and relatable view of modern dating—from bad first dates to cultural differences to constant excuses that there was “no spark.” For a show about arranged marriage, this season’s storylines took a lot of pressure off the outcome of marriage and more broadly explored what it means to try to find someone who can understand you while learning about yourself in the process.
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The matchmaker was still in the mix, but for a few moments it felt like an old show. Sima Auntie hasn’t changed; she still “only work[s] with high-profile clients”, as she told Condé Nast Traveller India, and still tells them that “you have to adjust” so you will “get results.” Season 2 starts with Sima explaining that “first is marriage, then love” and “everything gets adjusted after marriage,” but the cast is more interested in making sure they feel secure with themselves and confident in their relationships before marriage. Sima is not the reason that many people find their partners, but because they are able to. This makes it difficult to understand why Sima’s show remains so centered on her. It was refreshing to see cast members decide whether or not they wanted to follow Sima’s advice, but her presence on the show and her traditional client roster prevent it from featuring a more diverse cast.
It is easy to relate to the season when popular stars Aparna Shewakramani (and Nadia Jagessar) openly discuss their difficult journey of finding a partner. After rejecting Shekhar and in turn being dumped by Vishal because of that aforementioned lack of a spark, Nadia feels disillusioned by love but says that she “can’t lose hope” and will keep trying. Aparna’s story focuses on her move to New York and the process of finding her footing in a new city. By parting ways with Sima, Aparna tells TIME, “I got to live my matchmaking experience on my own terms.” She meets someone new called Daman, but questions their compatibility and ultimately decides to take time for herself. She shares with TIME that “the happiness had to come from me, and the ultimate love story had to be the one I had with myself…I was always making space for [my future partner] by loving myself.” Their choices show that they would rather be single than be with a partner who wasn’t the right fit. The show is more accurate to modern dating by spending more time on self-love, self-discovery and matchmaking.
Stop perpetuating double standards
Sima Auntie compares Viral’s choosiness to that of men, and it reflects an unbalanced standard
Sima treated her female and male clients in a different way when season 1 came out. For example, she called Aparna “picky” and “stubborn” for saying no to her first match but was endlessly patient with Pradhyuman, who rejected 150 marriage proposals.
The double standards are maintained in season 2. Sima says Akshay, an engineer from Nashik who describes himself as the “world’s most eligible bachelor,” is “charming, handsome. They are supportive. He’s loaded with money.” But when she’s describing Viral, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, she says “Viral is very calculative [because] she gave lots of preferences and criterias.” When Akshay is having trouble finding a match, Sima explains, “There is some defect in the horoscope, and so he refuses every girl who comes to meet him,” but when Shital, a business development manager in New York, is hesitant over whether to meet with a potential match, Sima says that “she always looks for a reason to find [that] someone is not perfect.” She criticizes women for turning down any proposals, but excuses men when they do the same.
It also impacts her management of clients. She gives Viral and Shital one biodata at a time, saying “that’s my way of working” and that “Shital is a picky person, so she gets confused very fast,” but gives Arshneel, a cardiologist from Cleveland, a choice between three women and Vinesh from Miami a choice between two. Although Sima recognizes that “the girls have to compromise and the boys have to compromise,” she can work on applying this to treating her clients equally—or the show could recast her with a matchmaker who does.
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You can choose from many casting options
Akshay from India is the cast member who appears in Season 2.
Rich, high-caste Hindus and Sikh North Indians are featured in the show (Gujaratis and Punjabis and Sindhis), even though India has a greater variety of cultures. A lot of cast members are culturally inclined and seek out partners who come from similar backgrounds and communities. Sima Auntie promotes ethnocentrism even by selecting matches for her clients from similar backgrounds, career paths, hobbies, and religious beliefs.
In episode 6, she claims that Arshneel and Rinkle would make a good match because “both are doctors. The habits, the staying, the eating, the thoughts and all, they match each other.” When Viral is asked about her criteria, she says she wants a Gujarati Hindu partner who is fluent in the language. “I do identify as Hindu. I know it would make my parents happy to just keep it all the same.” Although everyone has preferences, it can be frustrating to see ethnocentrism in action, especially when it comes to cast members like Vinesh who says he “wants a traditional Indian girl” who makes pakoras like his mom.
In season 1, the show featured a global look at matchmaking, with three of Sima’s clients in India and five in America. The second season only features Akshay (a new Indian client), and all the remaining cast members of the show are Indian American. Hopefully, in season 3, we’ll see some more inclusive casting choices that more thoughtfully represent the British Indian community.
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Engage in difficult conversations
Arshneel, a cardiologist from Cleveland, wonders if girls who aren’t Punjabi or Sikh will accept his background
While the show can explain difficult topics and Indian cultural traditions by adding nuance, it has not done so in its two season. Akshay learns from his mother that he can’t get married because he suffers from the Vivah Bandhan curse. To remove these obstacles, he plans a puja. But the cultural significance behind this ritual isn’t fully revealed.
Arshneel is apprehensive that his first match Anjali has never dated an Indian before, but also feels hesitant about Rinkle, since he’s never dated anyone who grew up in India and is worried that there will be “potential cultural differences.” As a Sikh man who wears a turban, he often wonders if girls who aren’t Punjabi or Sikh will accept his background.
Although colorism was a big issue in season 1, with Sima’s new client Richa saying she wants someone who is “not too dark, you know, fair-skinned,” it’s never explicitly addressed in season 2, although the matches Sima picks for her clients are generally fair. This show makes it easy to ignore the issue.
Indian matchmakingWhile it is entertaining, the show misses out on many chances to discuss topics viewers can relate to and learn from. This show is very popular. If we were to dig deeper, it would be a great way for people to start these conversations.
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