Recently it has come to my attention that many of you have not yet watched “Shtisel.” Now, how I do I know you haven’t watched “Shtisel”? Because many of you have told me that the lead actress in Netflix’s hit new miniseries “Unorthodox” is incredible (Shira Haas, and she is!) but don’t know that she’s also a lead in “Shtisel.”
So, with lots of time to catch up on TV these days, here are eight Jewish series you must watch to be literate in the best Jewish TV today:
The show itself is a peek into the world of the ultra-Orthodox community. Like I said, Shira Haas is just an incredible talent and is a most lovable and strong-willed character. Important note: The show is “Unorthodox,” but “Making Unorthodox” is its own 20-minute episode and it’s brilliantly done. I like the show, but the making-of special is what really got me.
The New Yorker is into it. Watch on Netflix.
And if you’re on Netflix, there’s a 2017 documentary, “One of Us,” about young people leaving the Orthodox community. It’s a fascinating watch and clearly having a resurgence because of “Unorthodox.”
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Having won five Emmy Awards and nominated for another four in 2018 and 2019, I’m still amazed to meet people who haven’t watched this gem of a show. I definitely didn’t go to the Catskills as a kid, but “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” makes me feel like I did. People have complained that actress Rachel Brosnahan isn’t actually Jewish, but she’s so funny and witty, I have to disagree!
The New York Times says you should be watching. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.
“The Plot Against America”
Based on Philip Roth’s book of the same name, this show is about a working-class Jewish family in New Jersey watching the political rise of aviator-hero and xenophobic populist Charles Lindbergh as he becomes president and turns the nation toward fascism. Roth, who died in 2018 at 85, hewed close to his roots in writing about the Levin family in 1940s Newark, N.J. (He even called the couple’s younger son Philip.)
Here’s what New York Post has to say about the Jewish roots of the show. Watch on HBO and Amazon Prime Video.
“When Heroes Fly”
A new season is coming this year, so now is your chance to catch up if you missed “When Heroes Fly” last year. Released in Israel in 2018, the show is about the bond between Israeli army vets and an international search for a girl. On the theme of actors crossing over between shows, Michael Aloni (Shtisel in “Shtisel”, is also the very handsome and lovable lead of this show.
Decider says to stream it. Watch on Netflix.
I’ve only mentioned it six times, so go watch it! This show was created in Israel in 2013 and came to Netflix in 2018. Like “Unorthodox,” it gives a realistic-feeling portrayal of ultra-Orthodox characters; in this case, navigating what it means to be an Orthodox artist. The last scene is in the Israel Museum and gives me goosebumps.
The New York Times said: “Netflix’s ‘Shtisel’ Is Binge-Worthy TV on a Strict Form of Judaism.” Watch on Netflix.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
Love him or hate him, “Seinfeld” creator Larry David is a quintessential TV Jew. The older he gets, the quirkier and more ridiculous he gets.
As The A.V. Club says, a “Spite Store” is real, and kinda spectacular. Watch on HBO, with older seasons on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu.
This is the show made famous by Ali G and Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen goes serious in this drama that tells the astonishing true story of Israel’s most prominent spy, Eli Cohen, who infiltrated the Syrian government in the 1960s. The story is crazy. Although it’s not my top pick of the year, it’s worth watching.
The Hollywood Reporter said, “In this Netflix limited series’ true-life spy story, Sacha Baron Cohen delivers his best dramatic work yet.” Watch on Netflix.
“Srugim,” which literally means “knitted” in Hebrew, referring to the knitted kippot worn by modern Orthodox men, is an Israeli television drama that originally aired on Yes TV between 2008 and 2012. I think this is an important Israeli TV contemporary classic, like an Israeli Orthodox version of “Friends.” I watched years ago, and it’s been a great more recent re-watch.
Slate called it the best TV show of 2014 when it first came to Hulu and Amazon. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.
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