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Love in the Time of Arranged Marriage: Exploring Love, Double Standards, and Questionable Traditions


During the Covid 19 lockdown period, I had the chance, or should I say, misfortune of watching the internationally renowned series "Indian Matchmaking". In case you aren’t familiar with the show, it revolves around an Indian matchmaker Sima Taparia, who travels across the world to introduce her clients to their potential life partners. She does this through an intensive matchmaking process, that although matches clients based on their compatibility, simultaneously promotes harmful double standards.


Throughout this show, I couldn’t help but notice that the women in the show were asked to “adjust” and “compromise”, even if it meant uprooting their entire lives for men.

Although not explicit, there was an implication that the women in the show were expected to move and abandon their careers for their prospective husbands, which the men in question were never suggested to do.

Moreover, in season 3, the first woman clearly stated she preferred long hair on men, yet Sima was persistent on pairing her with a bald man in the name of compromise and “never getting everything you want in life”. But when a man preferred “fair women”, she praised him and didn’t question his choice.

Don’t even get me started on the colorism and casteism in this show. It’s quite alarming that both these forms of discrimination are proudly reinforced and normalized throughout the show. It’s no secret that the tradition of arranged marriage is rooted in the preference and preeminence of upper caste and upper-class South Asians. This is, unfortunately still prevalent in the name of ensuring “compatibility” between people. Sima doesn’t shy away from stating that caste and class are important factors to consider in marriage. She also emphasizes how an ideal girl is “fair- skinned”. Sima promotes arranged marriages and aims to keep the practice alive because it’s traditional and has been used for generations in South Asia. However, it’s worth questioning the legitimacy of keeping a South Asian tradition alive when it’s based on idealization of features that originate from centuries of white people being upheld as the standard of beauty and status. I also found it quite intriguing that the women who were in their 30’s and single were painted in an unflattering light, reinforcing the take that women who are single past their 20’s are “leftovers” and have a hard time finding love and getting married.

All in all, after watching this show it’s very evident that it normalized colorism, casteism and harmful double standards that disproportionately discriminate against women. In a subcontinent where there is enough systemic oppression of marginalized people and minority groups, it’s disappointing that “Indian Matchmaking” has been given a massive platform on Netflix while it perpetuates stereotypes and reinforces harmful and questionable marriage traditions.



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댓글 16개


Thank you for talking about this. After reading your blog, I am glad I didn't watch this series because it just does not sit right with me. Why do women have to compromise all the time? Why can't men compromise? Usually, men have long checklists of what a woman should have, should not have, and what she should be capable of, and when it comes to women, they are told to compromise, kayoon bhai? Hamesha aurat hi compromise karay kiya? This is just so wrong in every way. I also wanted to ask you a question: do you think that what Sima Taparia is doing in the series is because she knows that people in Indian society, especially men, would…

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Mariam
Mariam
2023년 12월 01일
답글 상대:

I appreciate your thoughtful reflection on the blog, I totally get the frustration about women being forced to compromise all the time. Regarding your question about Sima Taparia in the series, it's indeed an interesting perspective to consider whether she reflects and reinforces existing cultural norms or challenges them. I am of the belief that she, as a matchmaker, operates within the framework of the cultural context she's in. Her actions may be influenced by the prevalent norms and expectations, and she might, consciously or unconsciously, be catering to the desires of the society she serves. Whether she is normalizing these gendered expectations intentionally or inadvertently is a complex matter. It's worth exploring whether the series is portraying her role…


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It's insane to me that these traditions still exist specially in this particular setting. I would fully understand if the case at hand was about women who aren't socially aware about what autonomy and independence feel like but when it comes to the kind of women depicted in the show, it truly is a sad site to watch. This is not to say that women who do not fit into this category should be facing this fate but rather that being aware and nonetheless facing it, is a sadder tragedy. I've actually had a lot of conversations around this at my house and there's always a dilemma between accepting parts of our culture after deeming them as a "sad reality"…

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Mariam
Mariam
2023년 12월 01일
답글 상대:

I strongly agree with your perspective on the perpetuation of traditional norms in the context of Indian matchmaking. It's truly disheartening to witness women, who are socially aware and value autonomy, still navigating within a system that seems to limit their choices and perpetuate stereotypical expectations. It could be the case that they might not have a choice due to family restrictions, or maybe these traditions have been so engrained and normalized in their culture. The dichotomy you highlight, between acknowledging certain aspects of culture as a "sad reality" and the idea of choosing not to buy into it is very telling of a complex internal struggle. It's a dilemma that many individuals, especially women, face when caught between cultural…

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25020004 Fatima Saeed
25020004 Fatima Saeed
2023년 11월 27일

Mariam, I remember watching this show back in 2021, and it's still etched in my memory. Honestly, I can't fathom who thought producing and airing this TV show on Netflix was a good idea. The problems with this show aren't just singular; it seems to embody a myriad of issues. We're in the 21st century, and yet, the portrayal of women as objects for men's approval feels like a step backward. Did women fight for their rights only for this? There's so much more to their worth and value than being showcased for someone else's liking.

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Mariam
Mariam
2023년 12월 01일
답글 상대:

I get your frustration! Hopefully media production houses can reflect on the harm they're doing and combat this by taking appropriate steps and being more cautious about how they represent people.

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Mahnoor Nasir
Mahnoor Nasir
2023년 11월 27일

I absolutely enjoyed reading this. I recall watching a few clips of the show and being perplexed about its presence on a platform like Netflix. Your analysis of the color and caste disrimation is right on the mark. What truly astounds me is that the women involved in this cult are well-educated individuals, and yet they perpetuate such discriminatory behaviour towards other women. While we do acknowledge the problematic nature of this, I believe it is the responsibility of the creators to be mindful of what they are producing, especially considering the problematic aspects of South Asian cultural and traditional practices among their audience and what they are consuming.




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Mariam
Mariam
2023년 12월 01일
답글 상대:

I'm glad you enjoyed my blog. I know many people feel the same about your observation about the perplexing nature of the show's presence on a platform like Netflix. The fact that well-educated individuals, who one might expect to be more progressive, are perpetuating discriminatory behavior is indeed a striking aspect of the series. Your emphasis on the responsibility of creators is crucial. The power of media, especially platforms as influential as Netflix, comes with a responsibility to be mindful of the content being produced. By showcasing certain cultural practices, the creators have an impact on shaping perceptions and reinforcing or challenging stereotypes.


I think your point raises questions about the ethical considerations involved in the production of content that…


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Mahnoor Zafar
Mahnoor Zafar
2023년 11월 27일

This article resonates deeply with me. You've articulated the problematic aspects of the show with such clarity and insight. Your observations about the double standards imposed on women versus men in the context of arranged marriages are particularly striking. It's disheartening to see a modern platform like Netflix showcasing a series that, while aiming to provide a glimpse into traditional matchmaking, ends up perpetuating outdated and discriminatory practices like colourism, casteism, and gender bias.

The point you made about women being asked to "adjust" and "compromise" more than men is a reflection of deeply rooted patriarchal norms that unfortunately still prevail in many societies. It reminds me of how in the first season of the show, Aparna is looked down…

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Mariam
Mariam
2023년 12월 01일
답글 상대:

I totally agree with your thoughts and I think you've pretty much encapsulated what I've been thinking for a long time.II think it's important to place an emphasis on the double standards imposed on women versus men due to deeply ingrained patriarchal norms. I also like how you brought up Aparna and Pradhyuman's example in the first season, because that's a prime example of how the same characteristics are perceived differently based on gender. This double standard not only reinforces traditional gender roles but also diminishes the importance of women's individuality and professional pursuits. Your observation about the show prioritizing women's roles as wives and objects of devotion over their professions is also an important critique of the show whic…

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