Indian Matchmaking: Rethinking arranged marriage


Courtesy of Netflix

Season 3 of Indian Matchmaking released on April 23.

Satvika Ramanathan

“A marriage planned and agreed by the families or guardians of the couple concerned rather than by the couple themselves” is how Merriam-Webster defines arranged marriages. Basically, the idea is that young people get help from their families to choose their spouse. 

Even though arranged marriages are deemed controversial, they do not have to be so negative. Arranged marriages are common in many cultures, especially in the East, and while the idea might seem appalling, getting help from your family to find someone doesn’t have to be that bad. 

This idea of arranged marriages is explored in the Netflix show, “Indian Matchmaking.” The first season of the show premiered in 2020, and the most recent season 3 was released at the end of April of this year. The show was a hit among many people, especially Indian Americans. The reality show follows a matchmaker, Sima Taparia, who travels around India and the US (and England, in the latest season) to meet clients, and we follow their dating endeavors and their experiences. 

Because of the natural cultural similarities that exist in arranged marriages, people might be more compatible in them. It’s also never a bad idea to ask for help or someone else’s opinion, especially when making a big decision like marriage. Especially when taking big steps in life, the thoughts and feelings of the people closest to you (family, for many) can be really helpful in seeing how this will impact your life and if it is a good choice to make for you. 

 It’s also important to note that an arranged marriage is not the same as a forced marriage – a forced marriage is when the couple gets no say in who they marry, which is not the case for a standard arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage, the couple gets to choose whether or not they get married, and their families and parents are just helping them find options. 

“Indian Matchmaking” highlights this process in a clear and insightful way. We get to see a direct view of different interactions with a matchmaker as well as the ups and downs that come with that. I really appreciated how the show truly depicted various experiences with arranged marriages and feelings toward them. Some people were there because they were really desperate to get married, some people were there because their parents forced them to, and some people were there because they thought, “Why not?” 

Of course, a TV show can’t and won’t be completely accurate in the way that real life works. Because it is a reality show, anyone who is in the show has volunteered to be there, and because of that, there is less diversity in the cast and their experiences. The show is also made for entertainment, which, of course, sometimes tones down the reality of it. The truth is, arranged marriage does not have to mean that you go to a matchmaker and get married to someone the day you meet them. Arranged marriages can also look very different from person to person, especially now in 2023. Arranged marriages can vary from matchmaking websites (similar to dating apps) to your mom sending your “biodata,” a list of information about you, to all her WhatsApp groups. 

Even though it might not be completely relatable to all people, “Indian Matchmaking” is still a very engaging show. The show does a great job of making you feel something for the people featured – whether positive or negative, you have reactions to everyone. 

I also really enjoyed the cultural aspect of the show. As an Indian-American, representation in mainstream media isn’t something that I see very often (although Netflix has really been upping its game with shows like “Never Have I Ever” and “Bridgerton Season 2,” and movies like “Wedding Season”!), and I love getting to see Indian people represented as main characters. Representation matters, and getting to see yourself in the people you love on TV is so important and special. 

Of course, the show isn’t perfect, but I love the Indian-ness of it all, and I highly recommend watching it to anyone who wants a good laugh!