'Today' Show Marriage Proposal Slammed by Critics

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Some are calling it an “ambush.” Others, a “bait and switch.” But New Yorker Simone Jhingoor, whose boyfriend, Chirag Shah, asked her to marry him in a surprise move on the Today show Thursday morning, is defending his public proposal as “wonderful” and an “incredible, happy moment.”

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Jhingoor was told that her TV appearance with Al Roker would be a chance to talk about working for a city nonprofit, the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation. But it was really a ruse in order for Shah to pop the question. And despite the fact that Jhingoor’s body language looked less than warm and fuzzy after she accepted his proposal, she told the Daily News, “It was actually really wonderful for me, and it wasn’t him undermining me in any way, because he orchestrated and arranged the whole thing for me. It’s definitely not disappointing.”

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Now online critics are angry that Shah upstaged his now-fiancée with a narcissistic proposal speech about his own dreams and desires. Twitter users have asked the "Today" show to invite Jhingoor back “for real this time,” so she can actually talk about WHEDCO, which runs early-education programs and builds green, affordable housing in the Bronx. ("Today," to its credit, did post a follow-up on Friday with some details about the organization.)

A slew of bloggers, meanwhile, are livid.

The Stir called Shah “egocentric” and the whole shebang “the most awkward proposal ever,” while Hypervocal dubbed him a “grandstander,” Mstars News called the scene “cringe-worthy,” and the Frisky bemoaned the fact that Jhingoor’s professional moment in the spotlight “had been derailed by her now-fiance’s kind of selfish desire to be splashy and romantic.” Patheos suggested, “Maybe you shouldn’t marry him,” calling him “clueless” and an “idiot” who reinforces “the patriarchal narrative that what women really want, more than anything, is to get married.”

Bustle said the proposal was “insulting.” Jezebel concurred in a comment addressed to Jhingoor: “You thought it was your moment — you were excited for your moment — and he made it all about him.”

And Slate, in perhaps the most spot-on takedown of all, called the whole thing “tacky,” comparing Shah’s trickery to that of the show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” in which a group of “sociopaths” build up a young woman's dream of becoming a famous comedian, meanly tricking her into believing that she would get the chance to showcase her gift on TV. “If you're a New Yorker named Chirag Shah, apparently [the show is] inspiration for a romantic and oh-so-public marriage proposal,” wrote Amanda Marcotte, who lambasted him for “interrupting” Jhingoor with his diamond ring.

So what’s with the backlash this time? Could it be (oh please let it be!) that the ever-mortifying era of public proposals has finally come to an end? In just the past year or so we’ve been subjected to a cavalcade of these let-me-put-you-on-the-spot moments—not only on Reddit, Twitter and Pinterest, but also in public parks, airports, IKEA stores, offices, movie theaters, bridges, police cars and haunted houses, many involving elaborate flash-mob dancers or other stunts. In one particularly mortifying example of the ambush proposal, a man popped the question to his girlfriend on Good Morning America, then announced that they would be getting married right then and there, in a way that he had devised and planned all by his lonesome, with zero input or approval from his bride.

And still, the women always seem to say yes. So it must really be true love, then, right? Only time, and divorce rates, will tell.

But for now, Jhingoor, for one, is standing by her man. “I don’t think I ever imagined being proposed to like this, but I love it,” she told the New York Daily News. “It just makes me love him more as a person that he was able to pull this together just for me.” Go figure.

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