As streaming services like Netflix and Hulu continue to get praise for the addition of categories like Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ, Asian American Stories, and Strong Female Leads, I am once again left wondering, “Where is the positive Jewish representation?” The only Jews I see on television are the ultra-Orthodox ones who are painted as repressive and out of touch with reality, which is about as outdated as Mr. Bojangles tap dancing for the white man.
The two seemingly Jewish shows on Netflix are “Unorthodox” and “Shtisel,” both featuring, you guessed it, fanatical zealots who crush people’s dreams, leaving them to do their best “Little Mermaid” impressions, as their souls long to be “part of your world.” It is the same story over and over again, and frankly I’m just tired of this shit. We live in a society where you can’t use the pronouns “he” or “she” without getting a verbal ass-thrashing, but you can continually produce shows painting the Orthodox Jewish community as heartless, and obtuse. Just to further drive that theme home, Netflix also has the documentary "One of Us," featuring the seemingly pained lives of those who escaped the tentacles of Orthodoxy. Never do we see a film about the millions of Jews around the globe who live happy, meaningful lives. Heaven forbid!
As someone who is proudly Jewish, and friendly with people of all different levels of observance within the religion, I can tell you firsthand how far-off these media portrayals truly are. There are so many times when I had driven on a Saturday (gasp!) to a Chabad temple and was welcomed with open arms, and encouraged to be there even in my skintight dress with cleavage showing. I was never once made to feel bad for being different. The contrary is true. I have always been made to feel included, wanted and appreciated.
How come that sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews never makes it to television? How come we never see the thousands of young adults, from various Jewish backgrounds commune together on “March of the Living” as they journey across Europe discovering the horrors of the Holocaust together? Why do we never see the Conservative or Reform communities that set up food pantries and interfaith youth programming?
If black people feel underrepresented on television, imagine how it must feel to be a Jewish kid! Every show has a Christmas special or Halloween episode. When was the last time you saw a primetime sitcom feature a Passover sedar? All us Jews get are stereotypes of old, crotchety people (think Eddie Murphy’s reprised character in the new film “Coming 2 America” and every episode of “Seinfeld” that took place in Del Boca Vista), and misogynistic, bearded rabbis in long, black coats.
A perfect example of the later image could be found on a recent episode of NBC’s hit show “Nurses.” The episode featured an ultra-Orthodox man and his father openly showing their disdain for both Arabs and women. NBC has since agreed to pull the episode from future airings, but the fact that they wrote it, shot it, and aired it in the first place is beyond disturbing.
I refuse to support a liberal media that fights for selective equality. But let’s be real. Equality is not what they are after; it is supremacy. #Truthbomber