Strictly Soulmates (Muslims and Jews)

I wrote about the Christian and Hindu episodes so want to give an update on the Muslim and Jewish episodes of this docu-dating show narrated by Scott Mills. Unfortunately, neither warrant any amusing screen-caps; the Jewish one in particular was rather dull. But let’s start with the Muslim episode.

Each episode follows three young religious types looking for partners who share their religious beliefs. In the Muslim episode, we met Zubair, a 25-year old engineering graduate with a beard. Born in Britain, he spent some of his teen years in Pakistan where his parents live and he is planning to return there in a month or so to work. So his search entails finding a Muslim-Pakistani-British girl who wants to live in Pakistan and is willing to move with and marry him in a few weeks. Suffice to say he’s not successful. But he is a rather endearing character – who says he has never spoken to a girl before, let alone date one. He goes to various Muslim singles events but all the girls are put off by his beard. And that interesting avenue about the differences within the religion between liberal and orthodox is not explored enough either in this or the Jewish episode.

We also meet Naila, a young 22 year old girl, whose mother is tasked with arranging a match for her. And Dr Dimpy Malik, a single 32 year old doctor who wants to marry another Muslim doctor because her dad always wanted her to marry a doctor. Sadly, her father died a few years ago and you can see the burden she feels to please her dead parent. But, as her aunt suggests, she can’t keep trying to please her dad, dead or alive, and harp on about one comment he made to her when she was young. Dimpy starts to broaden her horizons. Perhaps not a doctor, but a lawyer or accountant?

Dimpy is very similar to the 22 year old Jewish girl Natalie who has very “high standards” (her words) – Natalie wants a professional, educated Jewish man and also wants someone who is over 5′ 11″. Neither girl finds anyone by the end of the episode. In fact, no one in either episode really does. Apart from 27-year old Richard from Manchester who is dating a girl by the end – but she’s not Jewish. He is very conflicted throughout the episode about this, as he wants to marry a Jewish girl, but opts for happiness. And yet, all his conflict is not communicated to the non-Jewish girl (or at least not on camera) and it would be interesting to hear her thoughts about his religion and religious beliefs.

The Jewish episode also follows a 25-year old Essex Jew called Jason. He goes on J-Date, speed dating and Jewish camp in America. Anyway, Jason doesn’t have much luck with the ladies but goes on a few dates. And the Jewish episode doesn’t have the strong narrative or characters that the other episodes has – it’s just about some twenty-something people who try and date. They want to meet partners from their same religious background but they don’t explore this rationale beyond the explanation that non-Jews wouldn’t understand them. It might have been interesting to include some more variety. Perhaps a Hasidic Jew. And ditto in the Muslim episode. They were all Pakistani Muslims and so it was quite similar to the Hindu episode. Why not include some Somali Muslims, Muslims whose families came from the Middle East or those who had converted in Britain?

Each episode also has talking heads from various other people who aren’t highlighted on the show – some other singles in similar situations and successful couples. It would have been interesting to hear more from those couples. What I have learnt from all the episodes is that young people (under 25s) only seem to communicate via facebook these days. Rather than swapping/giving their numbers to potential mates – they just add them as friends on facebook and message each other that way to then meet up. It’s strange that they’re willing to divulge all their past history and photos etc to a potential date so early on before actually meeting up with them first. It also explains why that generation always have 500+ friends – because half of them are randoms they haven’t even properly met or given a chance to.

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