“Indian Matchmaking” is clearly one of the most popular Netflix series of all time since it is in its third season now. Since the first season, Sima Taparia’s business of arranging marriages has received its share of brickbats for promoting traditionalism and regressive practices at a time when we need to be more progressive. In my opinion, it deserves a little more hate than what has been bestowed upon it already for championing casteism and classism under the garb of upholding “traditional Hindu values.” But after watching the third season of “Indian Matchmaking,” I think that it’ll be good for all of us to divert that energy towards something fruitful instead of wasting it on Sima Aunty and this show. Because this whole endeavor has run out of ideas and is going around in circles without challenging the participants or the host.
It was already established in Season 2 that Sima Taparia is one of the worst matchmakers, at least the version of herself that she presents on-screen. Not a single one of the matches arranged by her ended in marriage. And even though I can hear Sima Aunty screaming into the endless void that it’s all up to destiny, I have to cite Dominique Toretto and say that winning is winning regardless of whether you succeed by a huge or a small margin. Since the second season hinged on a marriage that Sima had nothing to do with, I think those criticisms got to her and the creators. So, in this season, the candidates that she (or the creators) have come up with are shown to stumble upon an acceptable partner. However, the conclusions of those relationships are left open-ended, thereby maintaining the illusion that Sima Aunty is synonymous with competence.
That said, credit where credit is due, “Indian Matchmaking” Season 3 tries to work against certain stigmas and misplaced expectations. For example, Priya is a divorcee, and she sticks around long enough to send the message that being divorced doesn’t mean a person can’t take another shot at marriage. When a recurring candidate called Rushali says that she wants a poet, Sima puts her in her place by saying that if she likes poetry so much, she can read a book instead of looking to marry a poet. At one point, Sima Aunty comes face-to-face with a matchmaker named Adeem, who only specializes in Muslims, which is something that surprises Sima. I don’t know why she reacts that way, though, because she has been doing the same thing mostly for Hindus for three seasons now while putting “Indian” in the title as if that’s the only community that exists in this country. That said, Sima does fight against discrimination on the basis of height, the hair on one’s head, and body type with her favorite phrase: “Nobody is perfect.”
In fact, one of the best ways to enjoy the show is by taking a shot every time Sima Taparia tells someone to compromise. That way, there’ll be some sense of conflict, discomfort, and confusion because you won’t know if you want to puke because of the alcohol or the show. No, the candidates aren’t cringe-worthy enough to urge you to throw up. It’s the show’s whole agenda to promote certain businesses and individuals without making it seem like an obvious advertisement campaign that feels disgusting. Are we really supposed to believe that some of the candidates aren’t here just to increase their social clout? The relationship advisors, the religious gurus, the restaurants, and the spots for dating activities are supposed to be random? Well, maybe it wasn’t so in-your-face earlier. But this time around, everything about the show feels way too staged, with every single face in the frame seeming like they’re there to gain the attention of Netflix’s viewership base and get famous. That can be a good business plan, but that definitely doesn’t make for good TV.
Serialized storytelling relies on conflict and stakes. This Netflix show has neither. Think about it for a second. If Sima Taparia doesn’t succeed in matching her clients, she doesn’t lose anything. If the clients don’t find their match, they do lose the money they’ve paid to be in the show, but they win by being on Netflix. In addition to that, there are so many people searching for their “one true love” that even if a client goes through five or six bad matches, hundreds more are waiting to be selected by Sima Aunty and put in the spotlight. This process probably seemed new and interesting in the first season. But we are in Season 3, and it feels like the makers are under the impression that this style of storytelling doesn’t require fixing. Or maybe they’re completely aware of the flaws. However, they know that people will watch it anyway, and they’ll keep coming to Taparia for her non-existent skills. They’ve done it so many times already that they find the idea of experimenting with the format to be pointless.
At the end of “Indian Matchmaking” Season 3, Sima Taparia mocks a client with a laundry list of characteristics she wants to see in her son’s potential wife. The showrunners feature all the heterosexual couples who have been married to each other for upwards of 10 years. And the only client who manages to walk away with a ring on their finger does so via a dating app. So, in a very weird way, the series states that, even though they know that modern couples can find each other by rejecting the concept of arranged marriages, they’re going to keep shoving heterosexual arranged marriages into our faces, with Sima Taparia as their mascot. To be honest, that’s fine. If that’s the hill that Sima Aunty and her team have chosen to die on, who am I to convince them to do something remotely progressive? But they can spice things up by choosing interesting candidates who pose a challenge to Sima Taparia or by putting her in a situation that she can’t blame on destiny and walk away from. Then the viewing experience won’t be so boring, at least.