Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking presents a skewed view of Indian tradition

Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking offers a skewed view of Indian culture

As common, we began off the week by surveying the Polygon workers to see what individuals have been watching — whether or not they’re on high of the most recent cultural controversy a few virally common Netflix sequence, discovering an animated gem forward of the most recent season, or educating themselves in older style classics. As common, the solutions vary extensively, as some individuals try what’s new and common on streaming companies, and a few return to previous favorites. Here are some ideas on what we’re having fun with watching proper now, and what you may get pleasure from watching as properly.

Indian Matchmaking

A couple sits together on an elaborate gold throne-style loveseat in Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking.

Photo: Netflix

I’ve beforehand famous my distaste for actuality tv on this very web site, however I put apart my private preferences and determined to do my responsibility as an Indian-American by watching Netflix’s actuality present/docuseries Indian Matchmaking. The present options Sima Taparia, a middle-aged Indian girl who payments herself as “Mumbai’s top matchmaker,” and who herself bought married at 19 in an organized marriage. Taparia travels throughout India and the U.S. to fulfill her shoppers, get to know them and what they’re on the lookout for in a life companion, after which current them with potential matches.

Well, to make clear, Taparia presents them with “biodata” — a one-sheet matrimonial resume with every individual’s very important stats (age, occupation, faith, ethnic background, schooling, top … y’know, all of the necessary particulars), their very own preferences in a mate, and naturally, a photograph. Then the shoppers choose one of many individuals in query, which normally leads to a face-to-face assembly performed on the consumer’s residence — with members of the family from each events current — previous to a correct first date.

Indian Matchmaking has been controversial within the Indian group, each amongst individuals in India, and among the many diaspora. Some of essentially the most salient factors have come from critics who really feel that the present reflects the “warts-and-all truth” of the Indian marriage-industrial advanced, or are annoyed by its portrayal of Indian tradition as “burdensome.” There’s loads of stuff to cringe at, just like the individuals who explicitly say they wish to discover somebody “fair-skinned.”

But my spouse and I had been each postpone one thing completely different: the shortage of socioeconomic range on show. For essentially the most half, Taparia’s shoppers on the present are upper-middle-class Indian-Americans or wealthy Indians. It’s unclear whether or not it is a perform of selections by the producers, a perform of the shoppers who agreed to be filmed for the present, or just a perform of the form of payment that “Mumbai’s top matchmaker” fees for her companies. Whatever the explanation, it implies that for the entire shoppers’ distinctive private tales, the present presents one explicit picture of Indian life. And that implies that whereas in a single sense, it’s price celebrating Indian illustration on a TV sequence that seems to have been geared toward a Western (i.e., white) viewers, we simply must see a lot, way more of it — extra South Asian individuals each in entrance of and behind the digital camera, to provide motion pictures and TV exhibits that inform a wider vary of tales from a tremendously numerous tradition. —Samit Sarkar

Indian Matchmaking is out there to stream on Netflix.

Total Recall

Arnold Schwarzenegger grimaces as memories are implanted in his head — or not?!? — in Total Recall.

Photo: TriStar Pictures

For these feeling cooped up at residence and craving for journey and escape, right here’s my recommendation: Get your ass to Mars.

In Paul Verhoeven’s tackle a Philip Ok. Dick brief story, Doug Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is trapped in a secular life, however desires of journeying to the Red Planet. His spouse, his job, and his actuality preserve him earthbound, so Quaid turns to the subsequent neatest thing: a reminiscence implant that can let him imagine he’s been on a spacefaring trip, courtesy of the digital fantasy brokers at Rekall Incorporated. With the clicking of a button, the development employee can get per week of Mars-hopping adventures as a galactic undercover agent burned into his mind, as if all of it actually occurred.

But Quaid doesn’t know he could already possess these reminiscences. He may very well be a undercover agent from Mars, whose reminiscence was wiped by authorities thugs. The confusion begins when Rekall makes an attempt to implant the reminiscence into Quaid’s mind, and “awakens” fragments of an unique mission. Soon, henchmen are on Quaid’s tail, driving him to Mars to determine what actually occurred.

Is Quaid really a Schwarzenegger-esque hero, or is every part previous the memory-implant sequence simply the dream Rekall has offered him? Verhoeven, who additionally directed RoboCop, Showgirls, and Starship Troopers, lets us have it each methods, as our Hitchcockian fish-out-of-water lead navigates the futuristic streets of Earth, the Martian TSA, the planet’s underground communities of mutants, and caverns the place the primary proof of alien life is hidden away. Total Recall’s imaginative and prescient of the long run is a real spectacle, due to an array of stop-motion animation, fashions, mattes, and puppetry, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a gory Verhoeven satire at its core, depicting class warfare even within the new frontier. Though the film may make you assume twice earlier than embarking on a digital staycation, Total Recall is good “escapism” — an enormous motion film with one thing to say. —Matt Patches

Total Recall is streaming on Netflix and purchasable on Amazon and different digital platforms.

Infinity Train

A blonde teenager sits in a colorful fantasy landscape, surrounded by glowing giant purple and pink mushrooms in HBO Max’s Infinity Train.

Image: HBO Max

“Hey,” Petrana and Matt requested me final Thursday. “What are we doing with the season 3 launch of Infinity Train?” “What’s Infinity Train?” I requested. “Oh, it’s this animated series where people get stuck on an infinite train where every car is an entirely different magical world,” they stated. (They converse in excellent unison like that on a regular basis. It’s creepy.) “Well that sounds pretty unmissable,” I stated, however they weren’t paying consideration anymore, so I stated it to myself after which sat down to observe season 1 and half of season 2 in a single sitting. Infinity Train is loads like Steven Universe, in that episodes are 12 minutes lengthy (so every 10-episode season runs two hours), a complete lot occurs in every 12-minute chunk, the emphasis is on private progress and recognizing your personal points, and it’s wildly surreal in an unblinking method.

With Steven Universe wrapped, Infinity Train is a superb methadone, whereas being distinctly its personal factor — an outsized act of untamed creativeness the place the characters, who’re touring ahead by way of the practice, Snowpiercer-style, by no means know whether or not the subsequent automotive goes to be a paradise or a hellhole, a world of pleasant corgis or a lethal puzzle run by a paranoid, mendacity ruler. Because the sequence is so brief and so fast-paced, it skips a number of the scene-setting of most sequence. It’s whittled all the way down to absolutely the bone, principally simply motion and necessary character moments. It may be fairly abrupt and staccato in consequence, nevertheless it’s by no means boring. And I significantly just like the daring flip it takes with season 2, by way of switching up the story to maintain issues recent. Season 3 seems to be like an equally daring story flip, so I’m totally on board. Get it, Matt and Petrana? “On board”? (They nonetheless aren’t listening. Damn.) —Tasha Robinson

Infinity Train seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on HBO Max. Season 3 will launch on Aug. 13.

Last Chance U: Laney

A football player in uniform slumps on the bench with his head in his hands in Last Chance U: Laney

Photo: Netflix

Laney is the fifth and ultimate season of Last Chance U, a documentary sequence in regards to the lives of junior-college soccer gamers. No strain if you happen to haven’t watched the primary 4 seasons: Laney stands by itself, buying and selling the agricultural faculties of the primary 4 seasons for a reboot of types with Laney College in Oakland, California. In its new setting, the present captures one thing larger than sport, larger even than the lives of particular person college students. Laney is a present about Oakland. Through the tales of the faculty’s gamers and workers, Last Chance U turns into a compassionate doc of town’s ills: the fast gentrification, the accompanying poverty, and the pushing of communities of colour additional and farther from the cities they depend on for work, schooling, and alternative.

The filmmakers take an empathic method to their interviews, they usually shoot the Bay Area in a method that captures its pure magnificence with out romanticizing a spot that has broadly failed the movie’s topics. We’re about to be overwhelmed by the NFL’s coronavirus season, and its inevitable controversies. Last Chance U is a refreshing take a look at soccer with out all of the shiny advertising and marketing, an awfully harmful sport that brings individuals collectively, however usually at a steep private value. —Chris Plante

Last Chance U is out there to stream on Netflix.

The Exorcist

A frightening face looms out of the darkness in The Exorcist.

Photo: Warner Bros.

I don’t know if it’s the state of the world, the insufferable summer time warmth, or the truth that I haven’t left town in 5 months, however final week, I awakened and stated to myself, “It’s time to push my boundaries and start watching horror movies.” I began with The Exorcist.

So… loads has modified because the 1970s. (Not certain if you happen to knew this, nevertheless it’s been nearly 50 years, ha ha.) Back then, individuals allegedly fainted over The Exorcist in theaters. If you’re like me and also you’ve been laying aside watching traditional horror motion pictures, give it a strive. The Exorcist particularly is a gradual burn, and though the sensible results maintain up, they didn’t imprint on the again of my eyelids to torture me within the evening.

Oddly, the scenes that stayed with me essentially the most had been these from Father Merrin’s journey to Iraq within the film’s opening. The practically dialogue-free intro is dreamy and disorienting. It’s nearly an inexplicable method to begin a two-hour film, and greater than something, it marks The Exorcist as a product of its time, in the very best methods. It’s a daring option to kick off the film with one thing so experiential, and I actually dug it. —Simone de Rochefort

The Exorcist is streaming on HBO Max or purchasable on Amazon and different digital platforms.


Annie Wilkes shaves a bruised, bandaged, bedridden Paul Sheldon in Misery.

Photo: Columbia Pictures

Misery is one other traditional whose highlights have filtered into the nationwide consciousness. If you realize nothing else about this film, you in all probability know that it’s based mostly on a Stephen King novel, and somebody will get their ankle damaged with a hammer. But permit me to inform you, even having learn the plot abstract for Misery a number of instances, nothing ready me for the brutality of that second!! Ow!

Misery is just a rattling good film. It’s emotionally excruciating, and an exquisite chilly retreat from the new summer time climate. Famous writer Paul Sheldon will get right into a wreck driving down a snowy Colorado highway, and is rescued by his “number one fan,” Annie Wilkes, a former nurse with a shady previous. (Which was later explored in season 2 of Hulu’s Castle Rock.) It’s spectacular how visually fascinating Misery is, contemplating the principle character is generally confined to mattress in a single room. Kathy Bates’ intense, erratic physicality as Wilkes eats up the house, and poor James Caan does loads with tear-filled eyes. What a pleasant, gut-churning method to spend a night. —Simone de Rochefort

Misery is streaming on HBO Max or purchasable on Amazon and different digital platforms.


A group of frightened people stare at their webcams in a group video chat in Host.

Photo: Shudder

I’m an enormous fan of Unfriended, the 2014 horror film a few group of youngsters being haunted by their useless classmate by way of Skype. But in 2020, when practically all of my socializing is completed by way of a pc display screen, the concept of a malignant pressure arriving by way of video chat is extra terrifying than ever. Host, now streaming on Shudder, expertly mines that terror. As in Unfriended, the self-esteem of Host is that viewers are watching the principle character’s laptop display screen. A bunch of mates bored in quarantine resolve to host a digital séance, however they by chance invite an evil spirit into the world.

At a good 57 minutes, director Rob Savage doesn’t overstay his welcome or drag down the narrative with any pointless filler. It’s spectacular and spooky, particularly contemplating that the actors needed to rig up the cameras, lighting, and sensible results all on their very own. Once I used to be carried out screaming at a soar scare, I marveled at how the actor was capable of make her chair fly backward. Conceived, written, filmed, and launched throughout quarantine, Host is a relic of an odd time in our historical past. Consider it a trashy sister movie to She Dies Tomorrow, Amy Seimetz’s nervousness horror movie. —Emily Heller

Host is streaming on Shudder.

A couple sits together on an elaborate gold throne-style loveseat in Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking.

Photo: Netflix

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