Watching this show the very first day was exhilarating. I usually don’t watch reality shows like this but the title made me curious. Four hours after watching the entire season, I have a lot to say but let me start with – Thank you Netflix! You have opened the door for many conversations to come. Time for many young women (AND MEN) to be set free of these cultural biases.
Disclaimer: If you haven’t watched “Indian Matchmaking” on Netflix yet, don’t read this article. If you don’t plan on watching the show, don’t read this article. Read this article only after you have watched all 8 episodes of Indian Matchmaking.
First, let’s talk memes because we all could use a laugh
The ultimate! Twitter beautifully points out the fact that after all the years of compromise, adjustment and flexibility, one finds out that their spouse is only a friend that they co-parent with. What a waste of all the expensive and luxurious wedding events!Could have just found a friend in our own circles and not spend so much money on moov to make ourselves so flexible for the MIL.
The shallow criteria
It seems offensive to elders to criticize the list of wants but now looking at how shallow and horrible each list by the elders… ?. Girls have to be fair, slim, trim and tall, well educated and from a decent family, only to be a glorified maid in the house? or a glorified surrogate? Where is this coming from!!
This is what they teach aerospace engineers? The trajectory of life through physics? Who knew!
Count the number of times, we get all spiritual and point out the obvious to say that it’s from God and sign from the heavens.
Now that we’ve enjoyed the memes, let’s get down to the people from the show and discuss who they are, not as themselves but as characters in our lives. When you read, picture them to be a character in real life but not as those individual persons you see on the show. It has changed my perspective on many things and hope you see that perspective as well.
Those who have sacrificed much in life, specially their emotions and fun times all have a little Aparna in us. In our late 20s and 30s we have established ourselves. We have been able to land a decent job, make some money, get a house (or equivalent) and a vehicle, and a lot of that didn’t require help from the outside. It’s the sleepless nights to ace that exam, get a high GPA and get every academic award there is in college that got us this job. We didn’t get fun night outs. We had to sit and study so why not be stubborn enough to want what we want? That stubbornness has got us where we are today so why compromise and adjust when we were promised a partner just like us? Focused, ambitious, self-made, rich and good looking on the eyes. Though Aparna might be an extreme example, why not want what we deserve? In many ways, we could say that if we are able to work hard and secure this place in our lives, why can’t we expect the same from our future spouse? What is stopping them to be as established as we are?
This guy! He is rich, has everything in life and has a heart. What a rare combination. Most rich kids don’t care about what work they do. As long as daddy’s business keeps filling their bank account, have nice watches, cars, servants, on time meals and the finer things in life, not one day will they search for anything in life. But Pradhyuman. He actually likes what he does. Regardless of doing family business, he found what he likes to do and is passionate about it. He takes care of his things. I mean, the guy has a well done closet, well maintained and still is not just about the finer things in life. He respects moments. He has pictures stuck to the walls, not thinking twice that his lux wall would be tarnished. That shows heart. He is a thinker- not sure how deep but uses his common sense, unlike most rich guys. When he talks to his sister, he asks: life has been good so far, why make a hasty decision now and ruin the second half of it? He really has taken the time to know what he wants and is open to learning from a life coach. Now his cooking skills are obviously a bonus for anyone he is with. I mean, who doesn’t like a show with their dinner. Liquid nitrogen, ultimate showstopper.
In hindsight, people like Pradhyuman have all the right to be “stubborn and arrogant”. How else are you going to protect that heart against the Sima aunties out there when they do all kinds of psychological tricks to say, “Beta, your 30. It’s time to get married. Society is waiting to drink the fine booze at your wedding.” In a society that takes kindness for weakness, avoiding calls and family events can be taken as rude. All Pradhyuman wants is to be heard but there is no one as progressive as him to listen and help him. It is so rare for rich guys to be passionate about what they do but the pressure to get married overrides the need to have a suitable partner that would spark these passions. The killing of these passions is what makes for a bitter old person so is it really rude to protect oneself from the inner fire that burns to create something out of the ordinary?
The perfection of a woman that everyone loves. She is kind, funny, beautiful, strong, independent and lovely. One of the criteria’s for a partner is “A good person”. Great, we all want a good person but she fails to realize that she is the good person she longs for in a guy. How many of us are this way?
This kind of woman is everything a man asks for but she keeps getting hurt because she constantly pushes herself to make others happy. Even strangers. Why does she need to always have a smile on her face? Why is it upto her to carry a conversation? Why does she need to be the one to constantly pick herself back up when she is shut down and rejected? It seems as though women like Nadia are almost perfect, but without the validation of a man (who is more a stranger), she is nothing. This is such a taboo in Indian society that has been exposed in Nadia’s dates.
IDENTITY! How many of us are lost in decision-making when it comes to our love life only because we are not bold enough to say I am enough? I am valuable enough for any person to want me as their partner. To co-shoulder with us we walk through life.
The cuddly teddy bear of a man that would be a gift sent from heaven if he is the character in a husband. For a guy to be able to strongly admit that he would happy to take care of the house chores and actually have a part in raising the kids makes women scream in excitement. But Vyasar’s past and present shows us that we need to ask a very important question. What makes us rich and respectable? In Indian society, specially in arranged marriages, “well-to-do” is widely discussed. How much money, assets, properties, cars do they have. Having all of that shows how successful the family is, but what is well-to-do without a good character? Vyasar has a beautiful heart and he has let his past, shape his identity to show his vulnerable side. He is also grounded enough to say that he wouldn’t talk about his parents with anyone until he knows the girl he would marry would like him beyond his flaws. But here’s what women have to think about. If we come across a man who is not the usual gender stereotype, would we be willing to match with him? Though we agree to conversations that men should be more vulnerable, when a man is vulnerable and grounded but not necessarily “well-to-do and respectable” will we take him on? Which is more important? Wealth or character?
If we are able to boldly answer these questions, then we will also have the courage to find out if we can successfully love and marry. Many lovers today break-up because they don’t have the courage to reveal to their parents the secret relationship they’ve been having. Ultimately, both individuals are hurt and live a life of resentment. If they are brave enough to fall in love, what is stopping them from courageously getting married to that person? Societal expectation? Fear of mummy? Fear of being disowned and kicked out?
“I’m like water. I flow”
She is my girl! I’m rooting for her all the way. She knows what she wants. Her head is in the right place. She has served, worked, hustled and deeply thought about who she is, what she wants and where she wants to go in life. The body shaming she faces is handled with a bad ass attitude and I.LOVE.IT.
We (in our society) have had so many conversations about standing up to body shaming bullies, but Ankita does it and for that she is my modern day hero. What made me appreciate her and adore her even more is when she goes on the date and finds out the guy is a divorcée. The fact that she is not mad about his past but is mad for the right reasons puts her way ahead in life. This is what not compromising and adjusting and being flexible for strangers, but standing up for the right reasons looks like.
Proud of you girl!
Last but not the least, our star candidate Akshay. There are too many Akshay’s in the system and that’s what’s wrong with our culture. The show pretty much points out who we should not be as a someone who is wanting a marriage. Wrapping our 20 or 30 year old self in mom’s umbilical chord, dad’s riches, fantasy, imagination, comfort and laziness is not going to help anyone. Just because we have money doesn’t mean we need not use our brains and just because we get to marry rich doesn’t mean we need to subscribe to living as a glorified baby making servant doll. Knowing that ancestral inheritance will be passed on regardless of the happenings, doesn’t in anyway qualify a person to sit in a chair and play with life like it’s xbox. We are thinking, breathing, living, talented, skilled, creative individuals who all have a part in leaving this world better than we found it. So whether we are entitled or not, we must go through character development and find out what we want for ourselves now, before it’s too late.
I have a lot to say about Akshay and his mom but in summary,
dear aunties: just because you were hurt by the system does not mean you need to pass on the vengeance, dominance and back-biting on to the next generation.
(Read more about this in my book “The Courage to Identify Who You Are“)
Apparently she gets 95 marks out of 100 (Sima’s Auntie’s evaluation) ?
Obviously we don’t know too much about this girl but I have to commend the producers for beautifully showing how this viscous circle continues. They establish this system of finding a spouse in a desi community and in North India but without any narration, lets the audience look into each character trait and decide who they are and what needs to change. It’s truly a beautiful way to respectfully expose the biases, hurtful and toxic traditions in a culture, so that it opens the room for conversation.
Are you in denial of the truths exposed in the show?
Any kind of truth, in its rawest form will makes us uncomfortable. If we allow it to challenge and convict us, then we open room for positive change. If we throw stones, deny or attempt to sweep this under the rug, then it will only return in full force at the most unwelcome times of our lives. So better to embrace change now rather than be left a bitter, ungrateful individual.