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Why Aparna Shewakramani of 'Indian Matchmaking' decided to return for Season 2

But she's no longer working with matchmaker Sima Taparia — and she told us the reason.
Aparna in "Indian Matchmaking" Season 2Courtesy of Netflix / Courtesy of Netflix

It was a Thursday in July, and Aparna Shewakramani didn't know her life was about to change forever.

Shewakramani was part of the cast of Season One of "Indian Matchmaking," a show that follows matchmaker Sima Taparia's efforts to satisfy South Asian singles around the world — and their parents.

Then a lawyer, Shewakramani spent the show's premiere day in Zoom court. "I had not taken the day off of work because I had no idea how the show would be receive," she told TODAY. "But I was dealing with the first wave of social media."

And the waves would keep coming. Shewakramani was a fixture of much online scrutiny. The first wave was scathing, with people deeming her the show's villain. But for her refusal to compromise or put up with bad dates, Shewakramani was also hailed as the show's hero in a second wave of takes.

Her expressive face also spawned many memes, which Shewakramani said she partakes in occasionally.

"I love them. Sometimes my friends and I will just communicate in Aparna memes. There are only like 15 of them, so I would like a new slew (from Season Two) so I can have longer conversations," she said. "Someone recently did after the Roe v. Wade decision overturned and I thought it was so poignant to see my own face reflecting my feelings and humor to weigh about like a really dark day in American history."

"Sometimes my friends and I will just communicate in Aparna memes."

Aparna Shewakramani

Now, Shewakramani is returning to "Indian Matchmaking" — this time, on her terms. As part of the cast of the show's second season, which premiered on August 10, Shewakramani does less dating and more finding herself.

Shewakramani formally parted ties with Taparia, a decision that is largely glossed over in the show.

"Sima and I did have a breakup, and it was about where our values didn't align," she sad. "The tension was that I'm more progressive and I view partnerships as equal between a man and a woman if it's a heterosexual woman. I feel like we didn't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things that surrounded our culture. That's fine. I don't think everyone has to have my views and I don't think everyone needs to have her views. It was just a very sensible break for me." 

Why join the show, then, if she wasn't going to work with Taparia? Ultimately, Shewakramani said she owed it to her inbox, flooded with DMs from people who said they saw her as a "beacon."

"So many women DM me to tell about their own fraught relationships with their parents about matchmaking. For them I was a beacon of some sort. I was very humbled by that. I never envisioned that in sharing my own journey, to get support from women all over the world from all different cultures. That spurred me on to say I want to do this again," she said.

For Season Two, Shewakramani said she pursued a less formal form of matchmaking, through her extended networks. She gets set up in Season Two with the cousin of Netflix’s “Dating Around” star Gurki Basra — but played coy about addressing where they are now.

She also learns more about matchmaking herself. Despite her issues with Taparia, Shewakramani is interested in the profession and calls herself a good matchmaker. In fact, one couple she introduced is getting married soon.

Shewakramani said she learned what not to do from the show. "If you're a matchmaker, and they're your client, be their side. Be on their team. Listen to them, cheer them on, be a positive force for them. I don’t know why that’s not common sense," she said.

She's already putting her matchmaking skills to work. When she doesn't click with someone on a date, she'll often think of who, in her network, might — and sets them up.

Shewakramani in Season One of "Indian Matchmaking."
Shewakramani in Season One of "Indian Matchmaking."

"I did this maybe 15 times and no one ever said no. They were like, 'Thank you, one for being honest with me in spirit of online dating. I would love to meet your friend,'" she said, adding that "none of those coupled worked" but that she's still trying.

The show also explores how her life has changed since Season One. Since the show ended, Shewakramani left her job as a lawyer in Houston, moved to New York and published a book.

“She’s Unlikable" takes one of the criticisms leveled against her after Season One – and turns it into an asset. Still, embracing criticism wasn't easy.

"I'm not gonna lie, the months after Season One were really hard. They brought me to my knees in so many ways, with the cyber bullying and the death threats and the vitriol that I got," she said.

Relying on her friends and family, Shewakramani got through. But the moment also encouraged her to remake her whole life — ask the questions that led to the book, and that led to the transformation we see in Season Two.

"I focused on the creation and the creation was the book, but it was also my new life and the values I wanted to live by and the exploration I wanted to normalize," she said. "Healing came through writing the book. It go me through the processing of something I never thought I could wrap my head around."

At the start of the show, Shewakramani talks about "grieving" the life she thought she would live.

"What I saw was anger that I would never have that stability. And then I also found acceptance that without that stability, I could do great things," she said.

In her 30s, Shewakramani has made peace with swapping out the milestones she thought she'd reach — like a house in the 'burbs and a few babies — for new ones, like a book and a thriving career, and the ability to decide for herself where she goes next.

By appearing on "Indian Matchmaking," she hopes to be an example for life on your own terms.

"I think a lot of people are in my boat. I want to normalize the exploration," she said.