Indian Matchmaking - the Netflix reality show that's got people talking about an age-old custom that has been veiled in mystery and misconceptions. How realistic is the show? Four Indian Americans answered and set the record straight on arranged marriages.
Image: New York Times, Cover image: Netflix
On Indian Matchmaking
Sanya: I would describe the show as polarizing. Some people love it, some hate it, and some just respect that somebody put this kind of content out there. The show did represent the stereotypes accurately to show the problems in the society, the system, and ways of thinking. It may not be representative of the entire country because there are a lot of progressive Indians and things are changing.
Mesh: I feel like it showed something that India was 20 years ago, not anymore as far as the bigger cities are concerned. Things have moved on way, way ahead of what they showed on Indian Matchmaking. Parents have adapted. They know how dating works these days so they compromise on that.
Satya: They were showing the common beliefs that many Indian people have, like marrying within the same religion and caste. But that’s because we have a lot of different cultures in India and sometimes you only ever see them in movies. In reality, you don’t know anything about these people.
Nadine: I thought it was pretty accurate so it was funny to watch. The Indian stereotypes don’t come from nowhere, but not everyone can be put into a box. I thought Akshay’s mom was funny, but also so intense. The show was so addictive and bingeable. This is one of the shows I will remember from this pandemic.
On misconceptions about arranged marriages
Mesh: First, that a lot of people in India need a matchmaker and second, that a lot of things are done by their families. A lot of what they showed was what’s happening in families where the girls and guys can’t figure it out themselves. Things are very progressive now. Every single dating app that works here also works in India.
Sanya: There are misconceptions that arranged marriages are forced and that everyone’s experiences are the same. I’m sure there are cases where it’s forced. But as you saw on the show, everyone had full control over who they could go on a date with, or not.
Satya: A lot of people think arranged marriage is like, you get shown someone and that’s it, you get married. But you’re just being introduced. There are a lot of misconceptions around the process.
Nadine: Arranged marriage is not a mail order bride. The stereotypes aren’t always true and not every Indian is the same.
On pressure to marry
Sanya: I grew up in an open-minded, liberal household where you chart your own path. I always valued companionship and wanted it one day for myself, but I was never given a biodata or pressured by my family.
Satya: My parents tell me, “It’s time. You should get married” over and over. Even my sister and my friends. I get biodata from my parents here and there, but they’ve never worked out. The concept of dating apps and matchmaking is the same. No one is telling you to put a ring on their finger. For a guy like me with a busy lifestyle, if I get introduced, I don’t mind. My family don’t like this answer, but it happens when it happens.
Mesh: My family is very orthodox so they would prefer me to date someone who was born and raised in India that understands the customs and cultures. My mom would flip if I dated a non-vegetarian. But since I live here in the US, she compromises on a lot of things.
Sanya: Conflicts about traditions in my marriage are less between the two of us and more when we compare our set of parents and grandparents. But over the period of time we’ve been together, they’ve been coached to think differently. If they try to walk me down the traditional path, I’m like, this is not happening. It’s 2020, wake up.
Great quotes! So fun to read!