Written by Aditi Sangal, CNN

On Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking,” marital relationship specialist Sima Taparia takes a trip the world to consult with confident customers and aid them discover the ideal match for an organized marital relationship.

The format of the program is easy. Hopeful bride-to-bes- and grooms-to- be consult with Taparia– typically with their self-important moms and dads in tow– for a preliminary assessment. Criteria are set out, prospective suiters exist on paper, dates are set up, and then it’s up to the couple to choose if it’s a match.

In some aspects, the manufacturers need to be applauded. This is a program that turns away from the “big fat Indian wedding” trope and provides something fresh: a take a look at how some traditional-facing couples satisfy through the services of an expert matchmaker.

The characters’ stories– along with cringier minutes– play out in amusing methods, sometimes exposing the absurdities and awkwardness of matchmaking. I chuckled when, for instance, Taparia looked for the assessment of an astrologist and a face reader.

Matchmaker Sima Taparia consults with confident customers. Credit: Netflix

At other points, the program presents ruthless truths about Indian culture: the focus on being “fair”; the massive pressure to wed; the concentrate on caste and class; the stigmatization of independent, working ladies.

But the program stops working to contextualize or perhaps question these troublesome beliefs when they’re raised by its characters, providing them rather as the status quo.

With that, Netflix missed out on a chance to challenge a social system stuffed with cultural predispositions, and likewise inform a worldwide audience on crucial subtleties. In Sima Taparia, the program discovered a regressive anchor who simply pitches problematic practices.


Mentioned delicately but often throughout the 8 episodes is the concept that prospects need to be “fair,” or in other words, have lightskin


The topic of skin color and, consequently, social status in Indian culture is exceptionally intricate. While individuals with darker skin tones are subjected to severe discrimination and bias, fairness is revered and connected with charm, wealth and power.

Vyasar Ganesan (left) and Rashi (right) on episode six of "Indian Matchmaking."

Vyasar Ganesan (left) and Rashi (right) on episode 6 of “Indian Matchmaking.” Credit: Netflix

This cultural predisposition is engrained from an early age, with ladies bearing more of the social pressure to have lighterskin If you’re a lady, darker skin can be a deal-breaker for households looking for the ideal other half for their kid. For guys, reasonable skin is viewed as a perk but not as much of a requirement.

Colorism and the desirability of “fairness” is drilled into girls. In my own case, it began when I was in intermediate school in India, when my schoolmates ridiculed me for having darkerskin Older ladies would likewise make unsolicited remarks about my skin, veiled as real issue for me and my future marital relationship potential customers.

In India, the beauty standard is additional perpetuated by pop culture and a thriving cosmetic market.
Fair and Lovely skin fairness cream at a shop in New Delhi.

Fair and Lovely skin fairness cream at a store in New Delhi. Credit: Sajjad Hussain/ AFP through Getty Images

Skin lightening items are greatly marketed. Actors with radiant, pale skins are the stars of Bollywood movies while their dark-skinned equivalents play bad, disenfranchised characters. Some dating apps even consist of skin tone filters.

Unspoken guidelines

“Indian Matchmaking” itself provides a window into the way of lives of an elite class of Indians who can get the service of a top-tier matchmaker, and in some cases, fly them to the opposite of the world. This is not something routine households do, so status is currently developed into the story.

Perhaps this makes it much easier for households to prevent clearly defining reasonable skin as part of their match requirements. Taparia presumes it goes without stating, and continuously explains ladies as a “good person” or match due to the fact that they are “fair and good looking.” Some of the households count on this– it enables them to be political correctness and unclear in their look for somebody “good looking” without clearly stating “fair.”

Pradhyuman Maloo in episode four of "Indian Matchmaking."

Pradhyuman Maloo in episode 4 of “Indian Matchmaking.” Credit: Netflix

Yet, they get precisely the sort of skin they desire to see. It’s the equivalent of composing “caste no bar” in a matrimonial advertisement– an idea that the individual who positioned the advertisement wants to think about prospects no matter social hierarchy– but in truth just going on dates with individuals from the “community,” which ends up being a euphemistic catch-all term for individuals from the very same faith, caste or class.

Take the young Mumbai- based Pradhyuman Maloo, who includes plainly in the program, as an example. His well-to- do moms and dads frantically desire him to settle and discover a partner, but he appears mainly unenthusiastic in the ladies provided to him, up until he’s revealed a picture of Rushali Rai, a gorgeous design fromDelhi His eyes illuminate at the sight of her. Taparia explains her as “fair and good-looking, but also, she’s smart.”

When Maloo very first sees her picture, he is elated. “Ahh, she’s so cute!”

“I’ll tell you that from her dressing style to her look and everything, how she carries herself, that I can meet her,” he stated. “It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fun.”

Pradhyuman Maloo on a date with actor and model Rushali Rai on "Indian Matchmaking."

Pradhyuman Maloo on a date with star and design Rushali Rai on “Indian Matchmaking.” Credit: Netflix

Watching the 2 side-by-side on their date, it’s difficult to neglect the truth that, of all the characters in the program, they have the most comparable skin tones. Their pairing does nothing to challenge the deep-rooted cultural idea that you need to wed somebody with a comparable background.

Changing mindsets

As for ladies who do not fit the “fair, tall and slim” requirements, we do see the program acknowledging a various fate. Businesswoman Ankita Bansal is sent out to a life coach, with whom she talks about the insecurities she had with her body maturing.

“People would come and tell me that you’re never going to find anybody because you have to lose some weight,” stated Bansal, including that she experienced “off the charts” stress and anxiety. “So that played a very big part in how I lost my confidence completely in even trying to approach a man.”

The life coach acknowledges that such expectations can be impractical, and upsetting when it comes to a lady feeling her real worth. “I think it’s so — superficial, maybe, that they’re only defining us by the way we look.”

Nadia Jagessar on episode two of "Indian Matchmaking."

Nadia Jagessar on episode 2 of “Indian Matchmaking.” Credit: Netflix

But mindsets towards “fairness” and charm suitables are altering. Young individuals– who are normally more social-media savvy and much better informed– feel more empowered to go versus the grain, and to put pressure on those who continue to perpetuate charm requirements.

There are numerous continuous projects that call out celebrities who back skin- lightening items, and some Bollywood stars have refused to be associated with these creams.

The project “Dark is Beautiful” has actually waged its decade-long battle versus colorism by developing awareness programs about skin predisposition. Others like “Dark is Divine” and “Unfair and Lovely” have actually likewise considering that signed up with the battle.

The reveal avoids indications of such development, rather offering a platform for out-of-date clichés over cultural dispute and context. Fittingly, in among the last scenes, Richa, a young Indian American female, who Tapaira offers “95 out of 100,” rattles her requirements for the ideal match.

It’s not the very first point in a long list, but when she comes to it, it lands jarringly.

“Not too dark, you know, fair-skinned.”

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