I will not deny the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed the first part of the popular Netflix series, “The Big Day,” guiltily binge-watching all six episodes over the weekend and then watching it all over again! While essentially showcasing beautiful stories, moments and couples via weddings, the series has managed to soothe the collective soul of the Indian wedding industry as a whole by revealing to us and for those around the world – a new culture, a new way of celebrating togetherness and a rather exuberant way of making marriages look unusual, unique.
The second season of “The Big Day” is here and is already creating hype due to the show’s new theme. Once again, as done with the last season, it highlights millennials and their constant search for love, each of the couples, finding love in their own way. Interpreting traditions to suit their ambitions, goals and personal lives – that’s the premise and it’s here to stay. Unlike the first season, this time the plot revolves around interracial couples who come together despite the social and cultural challenges that arise in their journey and who went ‘extra’ – with over-the-top destination weddings and all the hullabaloo that comes with them. The big fat Indian wedding idea resonated well with the audience, which was evident from the positive response the show has received.
The second installment of the show has three episodes, similar to the first season. The show features the journey of two couples in each episode and follows their plans to prepare for the ‘big day’ or their wedding. Showcasing the modern take on Indian weddings, it shows how people are particular about the nitty-gritty involved in making a wedding successful, so much so that they are willing to spend a fortune to make their day special. Fans of the show love the shocking aspect this show brings on the table, precisely about how the wealthy families go about their rites, rituals, and traditions as they follow the ceremonies.
The first episode looks at Irina, the Russian bride who wears Sabyaschi with aplomb, and her entrepreneur Punjabi-Rajasthani hubby Dhruv. This couple who gets married Rajasthani style is perhaps the most underrated and most unexplored of the lot. Dhruv keeps it effortless and Irina is all about discovering Indian culture and finding out that it is bigger than just the wedding.
The next couple are lawyers, Nisha and Scott who come together from two different sides of a coin – he’s a staunch Catholic and she’s a “not really practicing” Hindu. It makes for some interesting anecdotes. Apart from the fact that Scott literally zip lines into the wedding venue, this is a beautiful story of two unique individuals who find a common purpose and love.
I found the selection of couples strategic and driven with a single purpose – to look resplendent, get some excellent quotes and make them the hero of their own story. The show manages to succeed in creating heartwarming stories despite the fact that there are a lot of common emotions showcased – a father who feels sadness letting go of his daughter, a couple who find love at law school, a cross-cultural wedding where the importance of haldi is explained.
The premise of wedding after wedding can get a tad boring if you watch all the six episodes in one go – so it’s pretty clever of “The Big Day” to give us a little break before launching into season 2 of the great big Indian wedding, all over again.
The big question though, is what makes the last three episodes better than the first? The answer is simple, the parents. While the first part focused pretty much on the couple, this part is an ode to the moms, the dads, the sisters, the brothers and brothers-in-laws and the underlying emotional entanglements that define the couple’s stance on marriage. These relationships literally define the course of the wedding and we see a mom planning every detail of her son’s wedding, from the table spacing to the distance between the chairs. We see a father who cannot fathom separation from his daughter, we see the gratitude that millennials have and the respect they give to their traditions and in turn, their parents. It’s all about making the big Indian wedding work with the big Indian family in tow.
“The Big Day” isn’t intended to be representative of the majority of Indian weddings, which is just as well – it’s about opulence and extravagance above all, which should please those who like grand gestures with their romance, but perhaps not anyone else.
Fans of the show from the Indian/Indian diasporic viewers took to social media to express their thoughts on the new season and its episodes. Taking to his Twitter handle, Amit Verma hilariously wrote, “not sure if you watched it (my wife made me watch it). I think I need my portfolio to 100x to even dream of one of those weddings for my kids.”
Quoting from a bride in “The Big Day,” Aishwayra S, calling out the elitist attitude says, “I don’t think in the last two years I’ve really attended a wedding that’s not a destination wedding. It’s not even interesting enough when someone’s getting married in Bombay. I don’t even want to attend their weddings.”
Another netizen Tokki posted, “#thebigday – Basically telling me I’m poor!” While in the same vein social media user Kapil Sharma tweeted, “Killing my time watching #TheBigDay on #Netflix & amazed to see how every TDH in the series is (actually) no less than Ambani. Happy for all the couples featured despite the crude display of wealth #TimePass.”
From the privileged to the more privileged — “The Big Day Season 2” brings more extravagant, fairytale Indian weddings while continuing to recognize the loving difference between cultures. It’s evident that the opportunity to embrace traditions and a different “way of life” is the cornerstone of this series. “The Big Day – Season 2” brings forward a range of different, sweet and loving interracial couples that are put on a platform to sell their relationship.
“The Big Day” wants for nothing in aesthetic: The color-laden scenery, artistic camera angles, and sentimental score are dazzling – the amalgamation of indie music and classic Bollywood show tunes strewn throughout the show catches the ear and is clearly well-curated. The order of the day is showing off, really, with a go-big-or-go-home feeling to the production that shoves aside the couples to better focus on the grand gestures that ostensibly symbolize their love. But without seeing or feeling that love, it’s hard to buy in; I’m not exactly keen to see gratuitous displays of wealth at the best of times, and “The Big Day” offers nothing but that in its purest form. There’s an interesting-ish idea here, but the series has little interest in doing much with it.
The other issue with “The Big Day season 2” is that despite the glam and glitter, it’s not particularly special — Netflix’s second commission of the series reveals a mundane, routine and repetitive experience. Unfortunately, reality series thrive on conceptual entertainment — humans fall for it — we need to be energized — we need to feel that when Netflix’s “Next Episode” button comes up, we can confidently let it play automatically without worrying about the time. This reality series has all the elements of magical weddings, but it lacks magic.
Anu Ghosh immigrated to the U.S. from India in 1999. Back in India she was a journalist for the Times of India in Pune for 8years and a graduate from the Symbiosis Institute of Journalism and Communication. In the U.S., she obtained her Masters andPhD. in Communications from The Ohio State University. Go Buckeyes! She has been involved in education for the last 15years, as a professor at Oglethorpe University and then Georgia State University. She currently teaches Special Education at OakGrove Elementary. She is also a mom to two precocious girls ages 11 and 6.