Vilified — and Celebrated — ‘Indian Matchmaking’ Star Takes Narrative Into Her Own Hands in New Memoir
IF YOU'VE WATCHED Indian Matchmaking on Netflix, it's clear that Aparna Shewakramani is the unlikeable one, an archetype necessary for good television. And while many took to social media to express their disdain for the Aparna they saw on TV when the show debuted last summer, tens of thousands were sending her private messages of admiration and appreciation for being herself, speaking her thoughts — and never adjusting her standards.
Now, eight months after the show's release, regard for her is much more outspoken, inspiring such comments on her Instagram as, "Aparna, you are the best thing to ever happen to Indian Americans." She even has a plethora of GIFs, showing moving images of her on the show spouting delicious one-liners like, "I don't need that," "You know how I hate comedy," "You do you, boo," and, "No."
Although Aparna is still frustrated by how she was portrayed on the show, she is relieved to have the opportunity to shed some light and right some mistruths in an upcoming book. She's Unlikeable: And Other Lies That Bring Women Down will come out in early 2022 next year, and will be available for pre-sale six months before its release. The book will be 50 percent aboutIndian Matchmaking—from casting, to taping, to how her life changed after its airing — and 50 percent about her life: immigrating from India at age seven with her sister and single mother, growing up in uber-diverse Bellaire, and attending Rice University and Vanderbilt Law.
"My mom always expects us to be who we are, and it's very special, and I didn't know it was special, until I spoke to so many women who didn't have that kind of support," says Shewakramani. "I was lucky enough to grow up going to a diverse public school in a diverse neighborhood with a strong group of diverse friends, mostly women — so my 'norm' was always strong, diverse women."
Aparna says while her portrayal on the show isn't 100 percent accurate — every show needs a villain, and she was easily martyred for the role — she is happy that her TV version has nonetheless inspired and empowered so many, specifically South Asian women, who exist with the constant crushing oppressions of colorism, casteism, heightism, et al. "I always differentiate my portrayal on the show versus my real self," says Aparna, "Because I don't know if [fans] know my real self."
Luckily, everyone will get to know Shewakramani's real self a little more in her book, which will be her first. While she does most of her writing at home, she does like to grab lunch with her friends on long writing days; spot her at some of her favorite spots around town, like Sixty Vines, North Italia, Giacomo's and Pondicheri.