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13 Reasons Why Natasha Noman’s Review of Netflix’s ‘Indian Matchmaking’ is Hinduphobic Trash

13 Reasons Why Natasha Noman’s Review of Netflix’s ‘Indian Matchmaking’ is Hinduphobic Trash

  • The MSNBC columnist is reading into a ridiculous TV show that has nothing to do with “Hindu supremacy.” If anything, it’s a mockery of Hindus. But that’s only if you take it seriously.

For readers who aren’t familiar with Netflix’s love-to-hate reality show, “Indian Matchmaking,” it centers Sima Taparia, an elite Hindu matchmaker (with a made-for-reality-tv personality) and curation of her clients, both in India and in the U.S. Through a combination of interviews, B-roll footage that gives us a glimpse into the (sometimes outlandish) “real” lives of her clients, and snippets of dates, the show delivers the comfort of heavily-produced absurdity and drama that has made reality television a mainstay of media consumption for decades.

Sima Taparia

Season 1 premiered in July 2020, right in the middle of lockdown, when folks were thirsty for a distraction. “Indian Matchmaking” did not disappoint. The show inspired memes, debates, inside jokes, and…it also seemed to send some people over the edge. The outrage — yes outrage, over a silly reality show — was absurd in its righteous indignation. Naturally, I made a guide to help people navigate it. 

Well, readers, Season 2 dropped on August 10 and, apparently, the two-year gap provided some critics ([cough] conspiracy theorists) the time to really stew in their Hinduphobia. MSNBC Opinion Columnist, Natasha Noman, terrified by the show, felt compelled to warn people (Dr. Noman received her Ph.D. in South Asian studies from the University of Oxford). On August 21, she posted an article, “The sinister, violent messaging at the heart of Netflix’s ‘Indian Matchmaking,” on MSNBC, deconstructing how it is dangerous propaganda for the genocidal Hindu nationalist government of India. 

I was immediately inspired by the absurdity of her review — and the fact that it was being circulated as brilliant — to write my own review of her review 

13 reasons why this review of “Indian Matchmaking” is trash:

  1. Dr. Noman claims the show is biased because it doesn’t include Muslims. The fulcrum of the show is Sima and her clients. She is Hindu(ish), her clients are mostly wealthy Hindus because she’s an elite, expensive matchmaker. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Many reality shows gawk at the ridiculous behaviors and lives of the elite.
  2. Dr. Noman claims people think the show is benign and charming. Nobody thinks the show is quaint or charming. That’s not what reality tv is. It’s a spectacle, a caricature, an escape from reality (ironically).
  3. Dr. Noman thinks the show reveals dangerous “social forces” at play because of “Hindu nationalism.” Nope. The “social forces” are just people interested in maintaining their heritage through the institution of marriage.
  4. Dr. Noman’s issue seems to be that they’re Hindu while doing this. I’d be curious to see her reaction if a Hindu wrote a similar critique of a (hypothetical) show about a Muslim matchmaker and clients. Would she take issue with the calling out of caste, color and community?
  5. Dr. Noman takes issue with the regional profile of Sima’s clients. Sima is from Mumbai and she comes from a particular regional background so her clientele will only reflect this. It’s not bias. The author also actively erases the identities of cast members like Nadia and Shekar.
  6. Dr. Noman has no idea what caste anyone is. She’s just making it up, like Isabelle Wilkerson (American journalist and the author of “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents”).
  7. Dr. Noman goes on to complain about “revisionist history”, comparing the critical examination of colonial narratives about Indian history with the rantings of Marjorie Taylor Greene. It’s a stupid analogy.
  8. Dr. Noman cites scholarship on colorism in “South Asia” but makes no mention of its source, which is included in the “revisionist history” she finds so unpalatable.
  9. Her wording implies that upper caste Hindus are to blame (for everything), which is the colonial script.
  10. Dr. Noman extends two myths about colorism; one, that race and caste are synonymous (you cannot know someone’s caste from their color); two, erasure of the rampant colorism due to and upheld by the settler colonizers’ religions.
  11. Dr. Noman conveniently bypasses the caste and color of the Prime Minister, whom she spends a lot of time accusing of a crime of which he’s been acquitted by the Indian Supreme Court. Casteist and colorist much?
  12. Dr. Noman declares that Sima Auntie isn’t innocent but is extending all kinds of bigotry. Um, yeah, no shit. A lot of nonsense flows out of Sima Auntie; Dr. Noman is not opening our eyes to this. Its why Sima Auntie is so popular — we love to hate her and she is highly meme-able.
  13. Dr. Noman doesn’t recognize her personal and heuristic bias, which is the ink of the entire piece. She’s reading into a ridiculous tv show that has nothing to do with “Hindu supremacy.” If anything, it’s a mockery of Hindus. But that’s only if you take it seriously.

The whole thing is a projection and a very silly over-reach. It’s not rocket science, it’s projectile vomit of the persistent colonial Hinduphobic narrative that she consumes on the reg.

See Also

Zero stars for her review. Do not recommend it. Ew.

Indu Viswanathan is the Director of Education at the Hindu University of America. She received her Master’s in Elementary Education and Doctorate in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Indu received a BA in Economics from Cornell University. Indu is the co-founder and co-director of Understanding Hinduphobia, an initiative to increase public consciousness and discourse about Hinduphobia, build allyship, and nurture scholarship.

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