The 33 Funniest Things About Indian Matchmaking
LA-Based Comedian Rajiv Satyal Helped Narrate the Netflix Series
A few weeks ago, I got a message from my friend, Madeline; she and I were in acting class together out here in LA. And she asked if I wanted to do Audio Description for an upcoming Netflix show. I go, “Oh, you mean like voiceover?” She goes, “No… they’re gonna have to go into the Settings on Netflix and check the box for English and then they’ll hear your voice.”
I go, “Oh, that’s funny, because I’m familiar with that. Because to watch my standup on Netflix, they have to… exit out of Netflix and go to YouTube.” I got the job.
And so it came to pass. For four straight days during this covid quarantine, I made the short trek from Burbank to Hollywood to lay down these tracks.
I knew I would binge-watch it upon its release as I immediately found myself getting caught up in the stories. In fact, Glenn the Sound Engineer had to remind me that I wasn’t acting; I was describing.
So, experimenting with the four things you can do with your voice (tone, pitch, speed, & volume), I threw fastballs up the middle (although maybe a cricket analogy would be more apt), never betraying my affinity for Vyasar, the teacher based in Austin, or my aversion to comedy-hating lawyer Aparna in Not-Austin, a.k.a., Houston.
Indian Matchmaking is a new Netflix show featuring cis-gendered, heterosexual participants trying to find love and it’s based the United States and in India. The star is a matchmaker, Sima from Mumbai. The show follows 7 of her clients: 4 men, 3 women. 4 in the States, 3 in India. They are… Jay, an entrepreneur in Atlanta. Aparna, a lawyer in Houston. Vyasar, a teacher in Austin. Nadia, an event planner in New Jersey. In New Delhi, you have Akshay, the Mama’s Boy. Ankita, the independent businesswoman. And in Mumbai, you have Pradhyuman.
By the way, thanks a lot, casting directors, for plucking the hardest Indian names to pronounce that you could find: Vyasar? Pradhyuman? Are you kidding me right now? I had to practice saying “Pradhyuman” late at night but I was afraid to say it three times in a row because it sounded like the Hindi equivalent of Candyman.
Like, I’m just sitting cross-legged on the floor, and I’m like, “Pradhyuman, Pradhyuman, Pradhyuman…” and “Wahhh!” A gigantic Indian man carrying gulab jamun shows up in my room.
But seriously… Pradhyuman, Krishna’s oldest son? Why don’t we throw in some Sankalps and Vaibhavs while we’re at it?
Alright, so here are the funniest things I found about the show. This is the extended version… the director’s cut. I was honored American Kahani carried an abridged version.
As inventive as the names were, maybe consider investing more than 30 seconds into naming the show? Indian Matchmaking? That is a working title if I ever heard one. What — would these same producers call Breaking Bad “Making Drugs.” Or, I mean, maybe they’d call Seinfeld, a show about nothing, just, “ .”
Given how things are going in the United States, a green card here may not be worth more than green tea. I mean, look, we might have a lot of Indian Americans trying to go to INDIA to settle down there. We might even have some CAUCASIAN Americans leaving here to go settle down there. And don’t think, ABCDs, that we have that much of a lead. We don’t. White Americans are gaining on us. They already eat turmeric, do yoga, and drink chai. So this could be more stiff competition that you might imagine. Not that Indians may take us. They’re gonna be like, “Oh, you’re from the US? Oh, sorry. We’re full.”
Sima from Mumbai: I love how she states her name and location, like she’s at a customs interview. Who’s she trying to be — Jenny from the Block? “Don’t be fooled by the fox that I got.” Is that a fox or a dog or a cat? She can’t tell the difference.
OK, no shade: I applaud these 12 participants. It takes some serious guts to put yourself, your struggles, and your entire backstory out there, possibly to be mocked. Out of the 500 people they asked, only twelve acquiesced and said, “Yes.”
Twelve Indians, not the twelve Eskimos. There are 1.3 billion of us and they got a dozen. And I’m specifically not doing the math to break the stereotype.
The criticism of the show is a bit laughable. Arranged marriage is by far the most interesting aspect not only of Indian marriage but also probably of marriage anywhere. The fact that nearly a billion people partake in a ritual that is foreign to most of the rest of the planet is the reason you would make this show. It is the raison d’être of the entire series. So, while they could focus on trans or homosexual relationships, the reality is most of those fall outside the rubric of arranged marriage. That’s not their fault. That is just reality that we mostly focus on cis + hetero ones.
Similar to the criticism lobbed at Mindy Kaling’s show, Never Have I Ever, also on Netflix, I think we need to lower our expectations of what a show is supposed to achieve. It’s entertainment, OK? In the great words of a mediocre group, “Please don’t put your love in the hands of a rock ‘n roll band and throw it all away.” — Oasis
In Episode 7, modern businesswoman Ankita gets mad at the matchmaker because she didn’t tell her in advance that the man with whom she was setting her up, Kshitij, had been married before.
She said she liked him but she was upset with the matchmaker. While I can understand her frustration, it made not a shred of sense not to see him again. It’s not like she ever has to see Sima Auntie again. What is she — subletting a place from them? In the great words of a great philosopher, “A finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. The finger is needed to know where to look for the moon, but if you mistake the finger for the moon itself, you will never know the real moon.” — Thich Nhat Hanh.
Or, in more modern parlance…
I love Vyasar, OK? Even his screw-ups are endearing.
Here are my three favorite Vyasar Moments:
a. “I realize I hadn’t cleaned my bathroom in a while, and there was a lot of hair. I always forget… it’s not that I forget how hairy I am, but I forget what it looks like when it accumulates.” WHO SAYS THAT? Maybe call him…
When Hairy Met Saala
I know, I know. I’m very proud of that one. Almost as proud as when I was texting my friend, Richa Moorjani, who’s on Never Have I Ever.
I go, “You know what? Since you’ve got Richa Moorjani and Poorna Jagannathan on the show, you could do your own spinoff and call it…
b. “I felt like I was looking at the sun sometimes… not in the sense that the sun is hard to look at, but she’s radiant.” Vyasar, dude, I am totally using that next time to pretend like I’m paying a compliment to someone, but I’m low-key throwing shade. Although, I guess you could’ve finished it in a way that reflects our true attitude: “… I mean that, in the sense that if she spends too much time in the sun, she’ll be too dark to get married.” Too real? Too real, right?
c. “By the fourth or fifth call, the doubts were rock-solid.” Who describes doubts as rock-solid? This reminds me of the time my brother was helping my Mom push something under the bed and it wasn’t moving. Finally, he got it to move a little bit and he goes,“It’s budging!” My Mom doubled over in laughter. Who uses “budging” that way? You usually say it to describe something that won’t budge.
IMM has come under fire for portraying stereotypes. As a comedian, I can relate. Idiots tend to blame the joke, when the joke is really a signpost for you to dig to find where the underlying problem is. Don’t attack the work. Attack the problem in the culture that makes the work possible.
And the reality is that “slim, trim, educated” has long carried more weight than fat… (sorry: “healthy”) and dim.
And while Akshay’s mother, Preeti Auntie, is tragically (if not uncommonly) misguided, let’s not act like these things don’t exist in Caucasian culture. They do. I’ve certainly heard of white families’ lament the fact that they have a younger daughter… she’s not married yet… and there’s an older daughter… she is married and they’re waiting to have a kid. This happens. I remember being jarred, listening to Meghan Trainor’s song, “Dear Future Husband.”
“And we’ll never see your family more than mine.” You’re just gonna drop that into the middle of a pop song? So, let’s not act like other cultures don’t also have preferences. Besides, for all the criticism, I don’t hear a viable alternative. How would that work, exactly?
“Here are 12 brave people baring their souls in front of hundreds of millions. They’re revealing their deepest insecurities for others to discuss ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Now, let’s bag on their choices and insult the very core of how Indian society is built.”
I mean, a Westernized dating show would’ve been exactly that: Westernized. Arranged marriage is the hook here. Indian marriage without the arranged aspect is like showing black culture without a soundtrack. “OK, I got an idea. So, black folks have made the best music in history, from jazz to blues to disco to hip-hop… I know what I’m gonna do: SILENT FILM.” Great move, foolio.
They do show progressive parents. Remember Ankita’s father?
“I think she is ahead of her times [sic]. She’s not wrong, but are we ready to accept that sort of a thought process?…. Or what we consider rebellious.” That’s a very forward-thinking statement, especially by a member of the Baby Boomer generation. Good on him. #OKBoomer
That’s pretty progressive, man.
Indian Americans continue to complain about the way we’re portrayed in the media, from Never Have I Ever to Indian Matchmaking. They’re saying that we’re displayed as the model minority. OK, let’s discuss the difference between Model Minority, which is a standard that may or may not exist, and Brown Excellence, which clearly exists. I understand that we’re immigrants of choice, not necessity, but however we got here, we are the wealthiest ethnic group in the richest nation the world has ever known. We probably live better than any subgroup in human history. And our reaction is to bitch about it? I mean, I thought I saw the height of privilege when I heard Angelenos complain that every day here is the same. Yeah, I get really tired of blue skies and all of this sunshine. What are you guys bitching about?
I applaud how the show did its best to avoid the traditional dinner hangout or date, right? I mean, they are making clay pots; they are throwing axes; they’re riding horses; they’re doing goat yoga… which, by the way, a goat and yoga together didn’t really make much sense to me until I saw the couple that went on that date — Jay and Aparna — and I go, “Wow, the goat and the yoga actually seem to go better than this couple.”
But honestly, if you ever need a tip: the best date, if you’re just feeling a little more traditional: Thursday 9 PM drink. Take it from someone who spent a lot of time single. It’s the best possible date, OK? Nine PM on a school night clearly is not dinner. And, you know, after an hour, or Aparna’s billable 55 minutes…
… if you’re miserable, you can call it a night. “Hey, early morning meeting. It’s Friday.” But if you’re having the time of your life, you can pretend like you are back in school and go rage till 2 AM. There’s the tip for you.
Ankita is right: nobody should be telling her to lose weight to get married. 42% of the American population is obese. 48% are married.
Clearly, being slim and trim is no kind of pre-req here. If everybody had to lose all these pounds and develop symmetrically beautiful faces, I think the marriage rate would be like 5%.
Some advice for Pradhyuman: Hey, buddy. A lot of people over the years have asked me if I’m gay. And I tell ya. Dispelling the rumors by serving complicated cocktails and asking Aunties to blow on ‘em? Probably not the best look. You kinda remind me a little bit of Andy Dick teaching a BJ course in Old School.
Every reality show needs a villain. And probably to this day, nobody has topped that more than Omarosa, the woman from Season 1 of The Apprentice, Donald Trump’s reality show and downfall of the American Empire.
Honestly, it’s like Aparna. #Aparnarosa Are there really women like this? YES. HER MOM. Remember the scene when they’re walking dogs? They are sisters.
Aparna’s mother insists her daughters have “nothing less than three degrees.” Hate to break it to you, Auntie, but it’s nothing fewer than three degrees. Maybe someone needs another degree. I guess you could marry Nick Lachey from Cincinnati. I mean, he has 98 Degrees.
Hey, look. The thing is, Aparna is upset that someone she dated didn’t know that Bolivia had salt flats, yet she’s OK with the fact that Sima Auntie can’t tell a cat from a dog. And she just lets this go.
But the real crime of Aparna and Akshay (stay tuned) is that they’re BORING. It’s not that they’re bad people. They are representative of most people out there. They just bring nothing to the table. That’s not bad. It’s just they have very high standards and have done nothing, really, to earn them. This is why people like this are not normally on TV. I mean, Aparna is basically the brown version of an entitled white woman.
A talk show with her would have to be…
Koffee with Karen
What is up with the men that the matchmaker keeps sending to poor Nadia?
One doesn’t drink… one doesn’t eat meat… Hey, Sima Auntie, why don’t you find one with a severely debilitating peanut allergy? Look. Few things in life have to line up, but it’s hard to be with someone whose lifestyle is polar opposite from your own. A spender and a saver go together, because a spender saves a little and a saver spends a little. Or social butterflies and homebodies… Like, I love to go out; my wife reels me in a little bit. My wife, all things being equal, would probably rather stay in; I’m like, “Why don’t we go out?” So, there’s a good balance.
But consuming animals and alcohol is binary: you either do or you don’t. There is the concept, I guess, of not having hard liquor or not eating red meat. But this is India, OK? (Well, New Jersey.) It’s not like, “I’m vegetarian.” “Do you eat fish?” NO. They’re vegetarian. There’s a difference, OK? Somebody who swears something off and swears by it ain’t gonna work. But at least she gets to go on a date with Shekhar Jayaraman…
Cincinnati Represent! Yeah, yo. Dude, I think I had your Dad as an engineering professor. I’m not kidding.
The soundtrack. What is going on with the random hip-hop thrown in? “Go 2 Work” by Bebe O’Hare? Did they sort by lowest licensing fees? I looked her up and she has 3,000 followers on Instagram. Maybe she needs to Go 2 Work a little more often. Couldn’t they get someone cool like Eminem? Though, given our thin-preference and colorism, he’d probably have to emphasize the Slim and not the Shady.
I’m not saying astrology is garbage. I believe we are Children of the Stars; after all, I live in Los Angeles. But what I find extremely vexing is the extremely broad advice that could apply to just about anybody.
Yeah, everybody’s like that. When you read a person, I want to see you take a massive swing. I interviewed to be a pharmaceutical rep at Johnson & Johnson. And in the interview, I remember the interviewer asked me… Andy Lopreato, I’ll never forget his name… he goes, “So, why do you think you’d be good in Sales?” I go, “Well, I’m good at reading people -.” He goes, “Read me.” Yikes. OK. Wow. This is the big leagues. So, I go on some rambling answer, but I conclude with, “And you… played the trumpet in high school.”
Two weeks later, I got a job offer. Not only did Andy play the trumpet in high school, but also he went to State for playing the trumpet in high school. So, Mr. Astrologer, I don’t want your prediction about how a single person is lonely. I want your Trumpet Moment. Till then, I want a study of how often these folks are actually right. I want… I want a graph and charts… I want a graph… of an x-axis of the astrological chart and a y-axis of how often these couples are actually happy and married later on. So gimme some correlation or causation. I need some data.
I liked Varkha the Life Coach. She made a lot of good points. Her most important probably was the fact that a lot of these people just don’t know themselves. And I think that’s true. There’s a comedian named Dom Irrera. He put on something called Command Performance and the description of it is: “People Who Have No Concept of Themselves.” It’s hilarious because it’s true and it’s sad. Unless you do the work, most human beings have no idea how they’re being received by our fellow human beings. I did that work in my 30s. I spent a lot of time doing it. Granted, I live in LA, where the focus on Me is an art form. And there is a fine line between self-improvement and self-absorption.
But it can be done. I even went back, John Cusack-style in High Fidelity, and I interviewed my ex-girlfriends. My point is it’s painful; it takes a lotta work; and if you don’t know where you’ve been, you don’t know where you’re gonna go.
They DO just wanna love each other. My point is they need to do the work. This is why I often find it laughable when people in their 20s want you to call them men and women. I have a hard time with that. I feel like girls don’t become women till they’re 32. And don’t get me started on boys. I think they become men around, like, 52?
My really good friend is a doctor, and just this week, he told me something very interesting. He goes, “The main thing we learn in rotations is, when we walk in the room, within 30 seconds, we determine, ‘Am I looking at a sick person or not?’” And he goes, “We make this evaluation almost independent of whatever the patient is telling us, because even though it’s the patient’s own body, a lot of the time, they don’t know. It’s the expert’s job to know. And that’s where Varkha excels. But she makes the dubious claim…
I’ll gonna put on my Aparna lawyer hat for a minute and show you Exhibit A…
Yeah, clearly not the case.
I’ve never understood why our societies pair up older men and younger women. Women outlive men, so this is just mean. They’re gonna live alone much longer than even if they married someone their own age. Sexually, it doesn’t make any sense, either, because males peak sexually at 18 and females at 30. If we’re trying to propagate the species, maybe we should be telling boys, “Don’t go to college. Stay home and make some babies.”
I love how the video call between Jay and Aparna turns into a job interview. I mean, they may as well ask each other, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Does LinkedIn now have a dating service, or what’s going on here? Although I love the advice that she gives him; it’s very good, right? Because he’s got this kitchen surface business and she goes, “You know what…”
This is as good advice as anything you’re gonna hear on Shark Tank. And for that reason, I’m in. Oh, and by the way, while we’re in the Idea Generating business, uh, Jay, I’ve got an idea for you, too. Since you seem to know a lot about table tops, here’s the name of your business…
You’re welcome. Your invoice is in the mail.
My favorite misspoken phrase of the series has to be, “Let me take your picture photo.” To English speakers, it sounds like the same thing twice. Then again, to Hindi speakers, the equivalent is probably “Bus Stop.”
In this day and age, dare I try to draw any distinction between men and women and keeping in mind cis-gendered, heterosexual relationships, alright? I do think, though, there is something to the fact that women are more mature than men. That’s a true, if not nebulous, statement. One way in which it manifests itself, though, is that generally, if the right man comes around, the woman is ready. For men, there’s this element of timing, and nothing illustrates this better than Rushali Rai.
This bombshell falls right into Pradhyuman’s lap — and he passes. He even finds three different ways of saying the same thing:
“I can tell from her dressing style to her look and everything, how she carries herself, that I can meet her.”
You really put the human in Pradhyuman. You said the same thing three times.
In fairness, the way that men view biodata anyway, Rushali’s picture photo could take up 98% of the page and it would be fine.
It could be like, “She’s committed three murders.” “Enh, nobody’s perfect… When is she free for a horseback ride?”
She is so clearly better-looking than anyone else on the program (except Nadia), I think she thought she was auditioning for India’s Next Top Model, and the producers of IMM just, like, ganked her audition tape and shoehorned her into the program.
I mean, in this way, diversity of beauty was on full display: they ran the gamut from super busted all the way up to Rushali. Sorry, maybe I shouldn’t use that word. I guess I feel like I was looking at the sun sometimes.
Pradhyuman’s setting the scenes with stuff like, “You’re lucky that you’re in one of the best places in Bombay.”
The restaurant is completely empty. Nothin’ but the best for Rushali, huh, Prad? But at least you’re an OG, calling it “Bombay.” Dude, during PM Modi’s reign Keepin’ it real, fam! I like that.
And then when Ms. Rai is talking about how she likes animals, my boy busts back with, “Mammals or, like, more like sea life?” What are you, a zoologist, all of a sudden? Take him to Goat Yoga and see how he fares. In fairness, though, that is my dietary policy: I don’t eat mammals. Seriously, I don’t. I have solidarity with the rest of our class. I mean, the hell with the rest of the phylum.
By far my favorite part of the program was the When Harry Met Sally intro in Episode 5, when the husband tried to introduce his wife, Sunita Kabra…
In eight episodes, there’s only one use of the word “Auspicious”? Seriously? ‘Round the world, Uncles, Aunties, Pundits, Acharyas… they all use the word “Auspicious” to describe any occasion. I was gonna name my next standup special, “An Auspicious Occasion.”
BOY, did Preeti Auntie do a number on Akshay. My gosh, dude, this guy has no personality whatsoever. I know we talk about the patriarchy crushing women. This is a great example of a grown man being dismembered by his overbearing mother and with no input from his ballless father.
I mean, he rejects a woman for a tattoo, but if he had a tattoo, I swear it would be Anthony Perkins from Psycho.
It’s kinda too bad he can’t get with his cousin, Mansha.
They could move to Texas. I think it’s still legal there.
Akshay’s mother narrows it down to three women from Udaipur, Delhi, and Kolkata — like he’s marrying a CITY. And then when they finally do get engaged — he and Radhika — she can’t remember this chica’s name.
Good luck making Akshay’s tiffins, What’s-Your-Face!
OK, I know you’re not supposed to mow the lawn after dark because YOU CAN’T BLOODY SEE THE GRASS.
But why can’t you vacuum after dark? I’ve never heard this before. Is this like an ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust thing? Somebody please tell me why this is. I’m very curious.
The When Harry Met Sally E6 intro was incredible.
They talk about meeting through India Abroad. I guess they put the “broad” in India Abroad. Get it? This thing on?
The best part is that he scams her parents into thinking they’re going to see the 3.5-hour Gandhi epic but instead takes her to see the Dustin Hoffman romp, Tootsie. When the interviewers astutely ask how they used their time, they slyly joke that they got down to business.” I don’t know what they’re into but I bet he turned that other cheek. TURNED THAT OTHER CHEEK. Gandhi? C’mon, that was gold.
Ankita’s use of “douchebags”…
Priceless. I love that word. It never gets old. I’m so glad it’s gone global.
There’s a face reader. In a society accused of being too superficial, here’s an entire profession that involves a guy’s looking at only faces, only looks. How is this even an art, let alone a science? He may as well be a palm reader. He may as well just combine ’em and have a Facepalm Reader. 🤦🏾♂️
Good on the show for showing Rupam’s sister married to an American and they didn’t hyphenate it. They didn’t call him an “African-American.” That is progress.
The series just ends. There’s no resolution. We have to Google to find out what happens with all of the couples. By now, I’m gonna give you a spoiler here, alright? So many of the reviews have already done it. None of the couples makes it.
It’s insane. Radhika’s not making any tiffins for Akshay. Preeti Auntie’s blood pressure is probably 240/120.
I mean, if I’m a man who wants to keep on playing the field, I’m totally seeking out Sima Auntie, right? I’d be like, “See-Ma, I tried.” And I’d call up someone for that Thursday 9 PM drink.
I’m kinda surprised the brand-conscious Sima allows this series to go out. In a way, good on her. It’s very humbling, right? I mean, it shows none of her successes. I’m a standup comic. I perform at a lot of weddings. Because my career is going awesome. My reel shows me onstage and I’m doing great. I wouldn’t be like, “Here’s seven instances of myself bombing. And by the way, in this one, I slept with the bride.”
In all seriousness, I’m glad that not everybody decides marriage is for them. That’s refreshing. Perhaps the usually immovable Indian society is finally… budging.
Rajiv Satyal is a comedian. He resides in Los Angeles. You can check out his solo dating show, No Man’s Land, available… of course… on YouTube.