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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

9 Jewish TV Shows to Binge During Lockdown

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Ariel Sobelhttps://www.arielsobel.com/
Ariel Sobel is a TED talker, writer and Bluecat Screenplay Competition Winner.

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Although the emergence of the coronavirus has made things seem bleak, there’s an upside to being trapped inside to avoid a raging pandemic: You finally have an excuse to catch up on all your favorite shows.  However, it’s likely that you’ll binge through your favorite series pretty quickly. That’s why we’ve arranged a hit list of surprisingly Jewish series you can stream:

 

1. “Big Mouth”
The coming-of-age animated comedy about puberty and the chaos it brings is full of Jewish content. Not only is its protagonist, Andrew (John Mulaney), from a Larry David-style Jewish family, his main middle school love interest, Missy (Jenny Slate), is a biracial Jew. The show is ripe with Jewish references, with self-declared “Fox News Jewish” characters fighting with “NPR people who were raised Jewish and no longer practice” at the school, plus a Passover episode in Florida and, of course, all the self-loathing we’ve come to love.

Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 3

 

2. “Grace and Frankie”
“Grace and Frankie” delights in the chaos of aging. Its all-star cast includes Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen. The show centers around rivals Fonda and Tomlin, who discover their husbands are gay. Tomlin’s character, Frankie, is the matriarch of a contemporary Jewish family that many secular Jews can see themselves in. It will certainly fill the void of West Coast cultural Jewry that “Transparent” left behind.

Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 6

 

Midge Maisel, played by Rachel Brosnahan, with her father Abe Weissman, played by Tony Shalhoub, in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” Photo by Amazon Studios

3. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
This series is a 1950s tale of a Jewish stand-up comic making her way through a man’s industry. With numerous Emmys and Golden Globes under its belt for acting, writing and just about everything else, Maisel offers a joyful escape from chaotic reality. For the most part, it’s family-friendly.

Where to watch: Amazon
Seasons: 3

 

4. “The Kominsky Method”
Created by multiple Emmy winner Chuck Lorre and starring Oscar winners Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method” follows a once-famous actor and his agent in their twilight years. These two icons are truly in their element playing cranky old Jewish men.

Where watch: Netflix
Seasons: 2

 

“When Heroes Fly” Photo courtesy of Netflix

5. “When Heroes Fly
An action-packed yet soulful thriller, “When Heroes Fly” follows four friends who served together in the Israel Defense Forces. They reunite for a deeply personal mission — to rescue one of their sisters, who they thought had died in a car accident. “What it does best is show how in Israel, mandatory army service is the melting pot that throws diverse groups together, so an Ashkenazi elite or Orthodox Jew can end up taking orders from a scrappy Mizrahi kid in a combat unit, and how these formative experiences bond them like brothers for life,” Adrian Hennigan said in his review of the series for Haaretz. Plus, the series is available in Hebrew and English.

Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 1

 

Al Pacino in “Hunters.” Photo courtesy of Amazon Prime Video

6. “Hunters”
This series focuses on a group of vigilantes in the 1970s, spearheaded by Holocaust survivors who hunt down Nazis who avoided justice. The show has caused controversy, with leaders from both the Auschwitz Memorial and the USC Shoah Foundation criticizing its fictionalizing of the Holocaust. But the show is beautifully shot and fully embraces the nuances of Judaism. In the first episode, the lead character struggles with not being able to sit shivah for his grandmother, who has no immediate family left. Now is the time to tune in and join the debate.

Where to watch: Amazon
Seasons: 1

 

“The Spy” Photo courtesy of Netflix

7. “The Spy”
Sacha Baron Cohen plays Israel’s most consequential spy, Eli Cohen, who infiltrated the Syrian government in the 1960s and saved thousands of Jews. The show is gripping and gut-wrenching and features meaningful Mizrahi representation. The spy struggles with racism within the Jewish community while being its saving grace. It also grapples with how much one Jew is willing to sacrifice for the greater cause of the Jewish people.

Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 1

 

Shira Haas; Photo courtesy of Netflix

8. “Unorthodox”
If you liked the Netflix documentary “One of Us,” you’ll love “Unorthodox.” The miniseries is based on Deborah Feldman’s bestselling 2012 memoir, “Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots,” and was just released. The show is loosely based on Feldman’s life-changing choice to abandon her arranged marriage in Brooklyn and seek autonomy in Berlin. The writers were so adamant about how they sought to accurately represent ultra-Orthodox life rather than scandalize it and were so committed to that accuracy that much of the series is in Yiddish. Plus, Shira Haas, who portrays the protagonist, Esty, is already a fan favorite, having portrayed Ruchami Weiss on the hit series “Shtisel.”

Where to watch: Netflix
Seasons: 1

 

Larry David in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Photo by John P. Johnson

9. “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Not only is the meta-romp about Larry David’s impolite escapades around Los Angeles the most quintessentially Jewish series out there, it also has new episodes. The show, which follows David (as himself) as he goes through his daily life, is now streaming new episodes every week. It also features high-profile guest stars including Jon Hamm, Abbi Jacobson, Vince Vaughn and Isla Fisher. And an anti-Semitic dog.

Where to watch: HBO
Seasons: 10


Ariel Sobel is the Journal’s social media editor.

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