Indian Matchmaking (Season 2) Review: India is classist. India is casteist. India is a country where the Hindu populace forms the majority community. Over the past few years, thanks to the political and social climate, this community has aggressively started to alienate every single minority group in existence. You just have to pick any news outlet (even if they are in favor of the Central Government) to know how shattered all the pillars of democracy are over here. And, like it or not, a show like Indian Matchmaking (2020-ongoing) is a reflection of this reality. It is non-inclusive and portrays the very upper economic echelon of society, despite calling itself “Indian”. But the reason why it doesn’t manage to boldly claim that “it is what it is” is because everything from the show, the storytelling, and the contestants is aggressively boring.
In case you somehow managed to miss Season 1 of Indian Matchmaking or you have no clue about the concept of arranged marriages, here’s a primer. Since the inception of love itself, love marriages are frowned upon in India while marriages that are arranged by the parents of the prospective bride and groom are hugely celebrated. So much so that there is an entire industry of matchmakers, wedding astrologers, wedding palm readers, wedding face readers (this one’s new, even for me), priests, and organizers involved. Sima Taparia from Mumbai (that’s how she loves to introduce herself is one such highly sought-after matchmaker. As per a report by Esquire, her success rate is questionable. Maybe that’s why she’s here for a second round with Season 1 contestants Nadia, Aparna, Pradhyuman, along with Season 2 newbies Akshay, Viral, Arshneel, and Shital.
If you are looking for some drastic changes in Season 2 of Indian Matchmaking after all the criticisms of reinforcing heteronormativity, classism, casteism, and many other forms of discrimination that were leveled against Season 1, look away. In terms of representation, the best thing this season has to offer is Arshneel, who is Sikh, and Viral, who is an ovo-lacto-semi-vegetarian. As for the rest of the contestants and the pattern of storytelling, it’s evidently more of the same. These folks provide a long list of requirements to Sima. Sima whines about destiny and the stars not aligning and how this generation doesn’t like to compromise. Then she goes to some horoscope reader or face reader and presents the contestants with a few matches. The contestants either reject her clients or they get rejected. And the cycle restarts.
All that said, the biggest problem with this season is that the illusion is up. Maybe the contestants spoke too much about the manipulation that goes around in the editors’ room (which is something that Vinay and Aparna explained in detail) or since we know that Sima’s technique isn’t airtight, the whole concept just doesn’t work. They do try to roll with the punches though in Season 2 by bringing Aparna back and by showing that Sima is more accepting regarding her failure. What difference does that make? Well, next to nothing. Aparna was the “villain” of Season 1. And her whole arc this season is similar. If you didn’t like her before, she’s going to stick out again. Only that, this time, you’ll probably be more accepting of her characteristics instead of seeing her as an antagonist to Sima’s matrimonial exploits.
Talking about Sima, she wasn’t as critical of the men as she was of the women in Season 1; thereby making her reek of internalized misogyny. In Season 2, she is unafraid to put down the men in the show by telling them they aren’t the best of the best, and hence, they can’t expect to get a wife who looks like a celebrity. She’s still against the concept of dating and thinks that love doesn’t happen at first sight. But then again, she expects the contestants to decide very quickly if they’re going to go ahead with the person she has suggested. That said, on two separate occasions, we see the contestants not going with any of the options Sima comes up with and choosing people from their own social circles. And in a regressive show like Indian Matchmaking, this should be considered a positive.
Additionally, Indian Matchmaking Season 2 seems to be way more boring in comparison to Season 1. It’s true that the show is synonymous with cringe and awkward pauses. But it seems to be way more manufactured this time and is not always reflective of the persona of the contestants. Don’t get me wrong, the contestants are bland as hell. They apparently have the weirdest preferences and their topics of conversation always seem to start somewhere random and then quickly devolve into how many kids they want to have or whether they’re going to go out for a second date. There’s one guy who talks about movies and he gets axed. So, after a point, these attempts to hinder the chemistry between two people start to pile up and affect the overall pacing of the show. Which is a roundabout way of saying, the editing is abysmal.
That begs the question: is the target audience of the show even concerned with such technicalities? Because at the end of the day, people are going to hate-watch it or (and this is a new thing) watch it ironically. It’s the audience’s way of saying that they don’t subscribe to the values that are being propagated by Sima Taparia. They are simply enjoying how silly it is. Which is totally fine. But when the cringe is not cringe enough, when the contestants aren’t interesting enough, and despite all the manipulation and editing, the twists don’t pack enough of a gut punch, what is there to take away from it? The show’s concluding message is delivered in the form of a montage of long-running heterosexual marriages where husbands make misogynistic jokes while their wives laugh awkwardly. Is that what we are supposed to take away? I am confused.
Matrimonial shows like Indian Matchmaking do not reflect the reality of heterosexual marriages in India. They are way worse, awkward, vile, messy, and borderline dangerous (both physically and mentally) than you see here. In fact, the higher you go up the economic ladder, the worse it gets. And despite being set quite high up on that proverbial ladder, Indian Matchmaking portrays a very PG-13 version of what actually goes on behind the scenes. So, for the love of anything you consider holy, please don’t start making wedding plans after watching this series. Or worse, recruit Sima Taparia to help you find your soulmate. Because the one part that shows like these leave out very conveniently is what it takes to keep a marriage together in this social and economic climate. Be smarter than the show wants you to be.