Mandel Maven's Nest Lilith Watch:
Critical Guide to Jewish Women on TV, in the Flicks and Popular Music

Jewish Women on TV

Jewish Women in (and Missing from) the Flicks

Jewish Women in Popular Music

-From the exhibit Jewface: "Yiddish" Dialect Songs Of Tin Pan Alley, at YIVO, Words and music by Edgar Leslie and Irving Berlin (1909). Collection of Jody Rosen. “This song tells the story (from the perspective of her boyfriend Mose) of a Jewish girl named Sadie Cohen who becomes an actress and performs the risque role of Salome in [Richard Strauss’s] opera.”


To find specific reviews by Nora Lee Mandel search by TV show title as listed by season since 1999 via your search engine

Unlike everybody else, I am very careful in my analyses of films and TV shows to identify Jewish characters through actual evidence in dialogue, actions or supporting visuals (like the ubiquitous menorah-on-the-shelf prop). I look at how the character is explicitly identified, but have had to expand to implications, particularly by a Jewish-type-sounding name, though I find that no one else makes these distinctions. (Like Elissa Strauss, in The Forward, 5/14/2015, calls “Brassy Jewish Woman 2.0: Pamela From Louie C.K.”, though there has been no references that the character played by co-writer/producer/star (and Jew) Pamela Adlon is Jewish.) Even though I’ve stretched into what I call “putative Jews”, there needs to be more indication than who plays the part.
I’ve started taking into account how the audience reacts to them based on external assumptions, particularly if Jewish actresses portray them, either as identified by general knowledge or perception of physical characteristics, particularly curly hair as Samantha Shokin described (Tablet Magazine 1/30/2014). In The Writers’ Room (on Sundance Channel, Spring 2014), Julianna Margulies, sporting her hair pulled back straight in a pony tail, explained why she wears a full wig as “Alicia Florick” on The Good Wife: “I wanted her to look WASPy, but I'm a Jew with curly hair and I was a new mom. . . The network now wants me to call other actresses and tell them this is a good thing not a bad thing.”
The British find us exotic, so the interviews are more explicit as in The Guardian, 8/26/2014, “Jenny Slate’s career almost ended when she swore on Saturday Night Live. Now she’s in the year’s most talked-about film. Hadley Freeman meets the star of Obvious Child. . .I do feel that I look traditionally Jewish, and it’s something I’m proud of and it’s something I’m a little bit insecure about, because I think maybe people don’t see me as myself. You know, that’s not the main girl, that’s the friend. But you know, I’ve realised that’s my issue. I’m glad that I look like myself and I didn’t get a nose job to fit in, and now I’m starring in this movie and people seem to like it. So fuck it.” So I’m following her career and the characters she portrays.

I also note personality or other stereotypes of the actor/actress’s Jewishness, however defined by ethnicity or observance or some kind of Jewish identity so that their characters implicitly become Jewish because they have been cast. (Such as “tough Jews”, as David Mamet calls them, at least for male portrayals, particularly when non-Jewish actors play Jews, though I intend to read and comment on his essays "The Jew for Export" and related ones on the impact of Hollywood’s anti-Semitism.) I am repulsed by using octoroon/Hitlerian family tree definitions of "being Jewish" for any actor/actress, but certainly there are people who Americans think “look Jewish”, though that usually means some general European ethnic-ness, that could just as easily be Mediterranean or Eastern European, which gets even more complicated by the portrayal of Israelis.
The true diversity of how Jews really look is rarely reflected, like my redhead, freckled siblings, where my brother can “pass” in Celtic bands. I am therefore just as intrigued if actors/actresses who are perceived/identified as Jewish get to play non-Jewish roles.

Mayim Bialik posted on her social media, on 8/26/2015: “To the man who admonished me for discussing religion bc its ‘supposed to be a private matter’: it is private until Fox news asks you about it because you're on a TV show. And also, I'm Jewish. It's not just my religion. It's my ethnicity and peoplehood. It's public whether I like it or not!” Building on her popularity as the non-Jewish “Amy Farrah Fowler” in the still top-rated sit com, and long-term renewed, The Big Bang Theory, Bialik is now so active and visible as a Jewish feminist Zionist (and parent and scientist), that rather than cite her individual comments and posts, follow her Grok Nation website/platform.

Mila Kunis, whose Jewish family left Ukraine with her because anti-Semitism limited their opportunities, posted a defiant statement in A+, 11/2/2016, against the sexism in how Hollywood treats her: “’You’ll Never Work In This Town Again’…If this is happening to me, it is happening more aggressively to women everywhere."
In March 2022, Kunis initiated a hugely successful, and ongoing, fundraising campaign for aid to Ukrainian refugees.

Debra Messing, who is only sometimes cast as Jewish on TV and isn’t usually visibly Jewish identified what with her trademark auburn locks, “accepted an award on 5/7/2017 from GLAAD for her LGBTQ activism with: “Ivanka, girlfriend, what are you doing? Come on, it’s me Deb, lets talk for a second, one Jewish mother to another…Imagine how you’ll feel sitting at Passover seder if you can tell your children that you fought for justice and freedom. It will make you feel richer than owning all the skyscrapers and golf courses in the world…You can’t just write #womenwhowork and think you’re advancing feminism,” Messing said. “You need to be a women who does good work: #saywhatyoumeanandmeanwhatyousay.”

The frequent TV stereotype of the sexy kick-ass Israeli army veteran/Mossad agent took on an ironic reality with the movie casting of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Talia Lakritz noted in Jewish Week, 7/14/2015: “her service in the Israeli Defense Forces helped her land the role of sharp-shooting Gisele Yashar in the Fast and Furious franchise.” – which I admit I’ve never seen. But when the trailer got released a year later featuring the former Miss Israel, Twitter was busy with anti-Zionist attacks on her. (updated 4/5/2017)

Why look at how Jewish women are portrayed on TV and in the movies? Others are documenting general or different specific images of women and the impact that has and the messages conveyed about women. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, does terrific research on the quantity, quality, and types of women in film and television.
Apply her analysis to how Jewish women are portrayed: Geena Davis summarized her findings about female roles in G-rated movies and children's TV programming in The Wall Street Journal, 4/11/2011, "Life Imitates Art" interview with Rebecca Blumenstein: "They found that the more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she believes she has in life. And the more hours a boy watches, the more sexist his views become. . .Of the female characters that existed, the majority are highly stereotyped and/or hypersexualized. . . .Negative images can powerfully affect boys and girls, but positive images have the same kind of impact. We know that if girls can see characters doing unstereotyped kinds of occupations and activities, they're much more likely as an adult to pursue unusual and outside-the-box occupations."
The significance of this approach for other minorities: GLAAD through the 2016/2017 season does a detailed Network Responsibility Index/Where We Are on TV Report for “the quantity, quality, and diversity of images of LGBT people on television” and created Vito Russo Test for LGBTQ characters comparable to the feminist Bechdel-Wallace Test, that apply strictly to movies. NOW did a feminist analysis of prime time TV, that took into account racial but not ethnic minority women on TV. The first Gender Bias Without Borders was “an investigation of female characters in popular films across 11 countries”. (updated 5/25/2017)

Amidst all the brouhaha over a 3/24/2015 headline in Deadline that was originally called “Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings – About Time or Too Much of Good Thing?”, by Nellie Andreeva all jumped on the People of Color issue and not the lack of real ethnic diversity on TV.
Dee Lockett in Vulture, 3/25/2015, pointing out The 13 Most Ignorant Quotes From That Awful Deadline Article” cites the dictionary definition then adds “Andreeva takes us back to the 19th century, when racists still referred to nonwhites as "ethnics" — and got away with it. . .And using the term to suggest anything otherwise — in this case, that it denotes only people of color — is a dangerous, slippery slope.” Soraya Nadia McDonald, the next day in The Washington Post, put in more TV industry context: “Andreeva’s repeated use of the word ethnic, which appeared in her story 21 times. . .was aping standard casting director language and writing for a trade publication , which maybe suggested why she finitially found it innocuous and unobjecitonable. It’s one of those things that gets taken for granted but ended up exposing a larger hegemonic rigidity with regard to how race is interprerted in Hollywood: a standard where whiteness is this assumed default unless a character is specified as ethnic a blanket term that served to cover an entire range of disparate identities, races, and ethnicities. Right there embedded in the industry’s customary vernacular, is this confirmation that actors of color and roles for them have basically been an afterthought.” What was lost in the racial storm that led to a formal apology was “ethnic diversity” that didn’t necessarily refer to People of Color.
Another term for these ongoing stereotypes as racist is Jewface, which cites “The Jewish Mother”, “Jewish Princess”, and “Nice Jewish Girl”. (updated 6/2/2016)

Why LilithWatch? Much of my thinking about the contemporary, post-"Molly Goldberg" image of Jewish women in popular culture was inspired by the archetypal "Lilith" on the long-running sitcoms Cheers/Frasier (played by Jewish actress Bebe Neuwirth). I used to do popular culture reviews examining how Jewish women are faring in television, rock 'n' roll etc. for LILITH Magazine, the national independent Jewish feminist quarterly.
Since the Lilith Fair women's concert tours 1997-1999 (and returning in 2010), the name “Lilith” has gotten associated even more with feminism, viz. the "Wichita Linebacker" episode of Veronica Mars, written by John Enbom and Phil Klemmer, which identified "Lilith House" as the locus for the stereotyped, protesting "militant feminists" at the fictional Hearst College.
Starting in the 3rd season of Supernatural, their Lilith was seen like a Super Demon whose death then was the Final Seal that brought on Armageddon at the end of the fourth season.)
In True Blood, in the 5th season, Lilith is worshipped (in Aramaic) as the First Human Vampyr, with her own Bible. Series creator Alan Ball, in an “Inside the Episode” interview after “In the Beginning”, describes that he conceived of her as “a Mesopotamian goddess” when she appears in a naked, then bloody vision to vampires (including Salome, yeah, that Salome) who drank what they believed was her blood. In the season finale by Ball, “Save Yourself”, a rebel vampire declares: She’s a mad god. She’s about nothing but destruction.-- just as her self-declared “Chosen One” drinks all her blood and reincarnates into a similar scary naked vision. The 6th season, in 2013, clarified this Lilith demonology. In “The Sun”, written by Angela Robinson, she appears in beautiful human form to him on “some spiritual plane” (as the writer explained in her “Inside the Episode” interview), albeit with three naked “blood sirens”, to correct misimpressions: God made me. Some worship me as a god, but there is no God but God., as she urges her Prophet to help vampires avoid a genocidal round-up he foresees in a sun-drowning crematorium. In “Fuck the Pain Away”, also by Robinson, sets Lilith’s first contact with human/fairies to 3500 B.C. At the naked Lilith’s first sight of “Warlow”: What are you. . God spoke to me of a creature like you. . You are destined to save vampire-kind. And she rapes and vamps him in the desert. Blended with her prophet today “she” declares: I made you into our savior!, though he is able to rid himself of her after a final image of her and her two minions blood-drenched bodies. At least her appearances here are getting more women to revive herstory.
Once Upon A Time (on ABC) in the 4th season, in 2015, gave a Disney-fied, fairy-tale spin to the Lilith legend – though all the many recappers I read were oblivious to the background or resonances. The episode “Best Laid Plans”, written by Jane Espenson and Kalinda Vazquez, revealed a flashback to the adoption in Minnesota of evil Queen Maleficient’s dragon baby in human form – she was named “Lilith – Lily”. Her eponymous episode, written by Andrew Chambliss and Dana Horgan, traced how her life just kept going bad with bad choices since she was taken away from her mother (and due to the manipulation of her life by “The Evil One” – Rumpelstiltskin, played by Robert Carlyle), as revealed to her by The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (played by Timothy Webber): The deck has been stacked against you. I owe you the truth. She’s the teenage nemesis (as “Lily Page” played by Nicole Munoz) of “the Savior” (“Emma Swan” played by Abby Ross as a teen, Jennifer Morrison as an adult, daughter of Prince Charming and Snow White, who had stolen her as the dragon egg): Emma, there are powers beyond our understanding, and your parents messed with them. So the only friend I ever had wasn't even my friend by choice. . . But every time I try [making better choices], it just blows up in my face. It's like I'm cursed or something. It's true. It's like my whole life is darkness. “Malificient” (played by Kristin Bauer van Straten, such a charismatic vampire on True Blood in tangling with the other Lilith) is furious at the parents: You've been so worried that the Dark One might turn Emma into a monster, you forgot that's exactly what you did to my Lilith. So, if I won't forgive you, why would she? So guilt-ridden “Emma” tracks clues to find “Lily”, despite others’ warnings: She was a weird one. Kept to herself. 'Course, she had one of those personalities that you wanted to stay far away from. A real loser. In “Mother”, written by Jane Espenson, “Lily” (played by Agnes Bruckner) bitterly (and ironically) compares her banishment and maternal separation: Sent me through the portal in my eggshell, like baby Moses in his basket., and angrily transforms into a dragon to exact her revenge: You screwed me over before we were even born. I had no more say in what happened than you did. But your parents did. . . Your parents are monsters, Emma. They banished me and threw you in a wardrobe. And now here you are, ready to die for them, because you're so perfect. The savior. Well, they deserve to be punished. And there's only one way to stop me, and you know it. . . Thanks to you, I'm hardwired for bad decisions. So come on just put me out of my misery. You know the truth. We both know my life isn't worth saving. And if you let me go, I will destroy everything. It's what I do. So come on be the hero and end this right here before it even starts. “Emma” explains You are not as responsible for your own misery as you would believe. The deck has been stacked against you, Lilith, and it's not your fault. Everything you do will be harder. And I owe it to you to let you know why. I owe you the truth. . .Let's start with the necklace. It isn't exactly a stone, but it did belong to your mother. Would you like to hear about her? “Lily”: Why didn't you just kill me when you had the chance? I would have. . . Isn't that the whole point of savior and anti-savior? “Emma”s better nature prevails and Mother Maleficient gets her daughter back in human form: It's too late, isn't it? You're too grown up for everything. You don't need me. And I know that I'm not what you were hoping for. “Lily”, in the episode’s theme, is forgiving: I thought that you'd be this scary dragon bitch, and we'd go get our revenge. You know, blasting all those who did us wrong. But you're just this real person. And you're so frickin' open, it kills me. Mom: Why does that kill you? I don't understand. Please, tell me. “Lily”: Because you want a relationship, a future. And anyone who's ever wanted that with me, it's just, it's never worked out. I've always let them down. I destroy everything that I touch. That darkness they put in me, it's serious business. Mom: I don't mind a little darkness. Look -- why don't you stay for a week, and I can teach you about being a scary dragon bitch? “Lily”: Okay. One week. -- i.e. to the season finale – which just set up next season for her search for her unknown dragon father, with a piece of the egg she was hatched from as her only clue. How Lilith is presented here is given additional irony in the penultimate episode “Operation Mongoose, Part 1” when “The Author” (played by Patrick Fischler) reveals that in his pre-magic life as “Isaac Heller” he was Jewish, by cracking a joke about getting a pen for his bar mizvah. (updated 5/11/2015)

I’m particularly interested in the presentation of romantic relationships, as popular culture so rarely portrays Jews with Jews, let alone in a positive light.

Jewish Women on TV
I got tired of people always citing "Mrs. Seinfeld" to me as proof there are still Jewish women on TV, whether one considers a nagging elderly mother as a positive image or not. So I started covering leading characters who are Jewish women in Friends, Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Killer, Once and Again, Will & Grace (which I found too silly a show to keep monitoring even as she did end up back with her supposedly Jewish doctor husband), etc. My comments on The Nanny have been quoted in the catalog for the Jewish Museum exhibit Entertaining America: Jews, Movies, and Broadcasting, edited by J. Hoberman and Jeffrey Shandler, published by Princeton University Press, in Shandler's essay "At Home on the Small Screen: Television's New York Jews", and then in Joyce Antler's excellent academic study You Never Call! You Never Write!: A History of the Jewish Mother (Oxford University Press, 2007). No, I didn't write up Dharma and Greg where "Dharma Finkelstein" is Jewish only for the novelty of the name, like Whoopi Goldberg; Entertainment Weekly claimed that Jenna Elfman was specifically hired for the role because she didn't look Jewish.
Then with so few lead Jewish women characters, even the usual Dead Jewish Mothers, I turned to monitoring supporting roles, though I hadn't earlier covered the likes of the best friend on Mad About You, or the bat mitzvah of “Muffy” (played by Jami Gertz), where Devo performed, on Square Pegs (David Browne in The New York Times review of the DVD of the series on 7/13/2008 calls her “the proto-yuppie”). But then with so few of even those, I looked for recurring Jewish women characters. With so few of even those, I'm now looking at guest turns. While I don't watch many sitcoms, I do watch Law and Orders to catch the Jewish Mother Murdering Matriarchs, fitting in with how executive producer Dick “Wolf maintains this consistency is by making most of the victims wealthy white people, which he believes viewers are more interested in watching. He limits the number of shows containing minority victims, including blacks and Muslims, to four or five episodes a season out of 22 to 24.” (per “Law and Disorder” by Rebecca Dana, The Wall Street Journal, 7/12/2008.) (I'm watching Law and Order: U.K., on BBC America, to see if the ethnic pattern from the adaptation of the U.S. scripts has been translated across The Pond.) (updated 10/5/2014)
With so few of those, I’m watching shows with Jewish male characters to see if they comment about their Jewish mothers or even date Jewish women, though my nephew Eliav told me I’m behind on the Jewish women references on The League. Plus I watch shows set in NYC to see if they ever have Jewish women characters, or shows in work settings like hospitals or law offices where in the real world it is common for Jews to be working. Like in NBC's Kings that though it was based on the Biblical book the closest it came to a Jewish woman was an odd "Sabbath Queen" as Death in a nightmare episode. So now, I'm also now looking at made-for-TV-movies, time permitting. With so few definitely Jewish women on TV, I’m even commenting on putative Jewish women, who I define as those with clearly Jewish-sounding names with implied Jewish-ness unless specifically denied, particularly if the audience is viewing them as Jewish, and also even characters pretending to be Jewish. (updated 10/5/2014)
I do detailed transcriptions, when I have time, of full dialogue and scene descriptions because I’m annoyed by the snarky or too casual inaccuracy in fan/entertainment publication recaps, particularly in reference to Yiddish expressions or religious rituals, that get widely disseminated as definitive, let alone are blithely prone to assumptions and acceptance of stereotyping. So I figure there should be one place on the Web that presents the facts and context about Jewish women characters, by TV season to monitor changes over time, which I mostly define by the Emmy Awards criteria, so now starts around June 1. (updated 3/28/2014)
I have not kept up 100% with sitcoms, most kids' shows, such as on Nick or Disney, “unscripted” reality shows (like ones that switched a Jewish mother to a gentile family) or the Jewish mothers on The Real Housewives of New York City/The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Extreme Guide to Parenting, NYC Prep, Skin Wars,Russian Dolls, Shahs of Sunset, The Bachelorette, My Antonio’s Jewish mother, "procedurals" (those fiction investigation series without continuing story or character arcs), or Family Guy, satirical guests on The Simpsons, or Kyle Broslofski's Jewish mother satired on South Park, let alone Judge Judy. But even worse, I can no longer keep up with all the shows, even just the noteworthy ones, available on all platforms! So mea culpa on what’s missing. (But I do hope to eventually catch up with Netflix, Yahoo, etc.)
Here’s actor (and now writer) Jesse Eisenberg’s new spin, posted by his Israeli friend Tal Kra-Oz on 1/28/2016, about the image of Jewish mothers who are unlike his own: “What makes the overbearing mother funny is that it’s not the mother thinking that her son is the best in the world, but the juxtaposition between the mother expecting the son to be the best in the world and permanently disappointed that he’s not: arrogance on behalf of your son and total disappointment in him.” Et tu daughters? (updated 1/28/2016)

Now that I focus more on Jewish Women in (and Missing from) the Flicks (including at film festivals), I refer you to Kveller and Hey Alma for more coverage of Jews on TV on more platforms than I can. But they go by calendar year, while I use the Television Critics Association (TCA) definition of a TV season: shows airing the majority of their season between June 1 and May 31. (updated 1/4/2023)

2024/2025 Season
Jewish women characters were on:

2023/2024 Season
Jewish women characters were on: Astrid; Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
The Chosen
Curb Your Enthusiasm - Susie Greene etc.
Little Bird
World on Fire – 2nd season

2022/2023 Season
Jewish women on non-fiction TV: Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge;
Jewish women characters were on:
All Creatures Great and Small – 3rd Season
Cobra 2: Cyberwar
The Equalizer – 3rd Season
The Goldbergs – the 10th season
Hallmark’s Hanukkah on Rye
Israeli TV series in U.S.
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Miriam “Midge” Maisel etc. in the 5th season
The Patient
A Small Light
Vienna Blood – 3rd season

2021/2022 Season
Jewish women on non-fiction TV: Gossip;
Jewish women characters were on: Blue Bloods; Call The Midwife; Hallmark’s Eight Gifts of Hanukkah
American Crime Story: Impeachment - Monica Lewinsky
Better Things – Final, 5th season
The Goldbergs – the 9th season
Grace and Frankie – Final, 7th season
My Unorthodox Life
Ridley Road
Vienna Blood – 2nd season

2020/2021 Season
Jewish women characters were on: Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Riviera
The Alienist: Angel of Darkness - Bitsy Sussman in the 2nd season
The Goldbergs – the 8th season
The Good Fight – Marissa Gold in the 3rd season
A Place To Call Home – Sarah Adams in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th seasons
Younger – Lauren Heller and her mother in the 7th season

2019/2020 Season
Jewish women characters were on: Arrow – Felicity Smoak in the final 8th Season; Earth’s Sacred WondersElena of Avalor; Good Trouble; Harvey’s Girls; Murdoch Mysteries; NCIS – Ziva David in the 17th Season; Preacher – Dany in the 4th Season; Suits; The Windermere Children
Better Things – 4th season
Fear the Walking Dead – Sarah in the 5th season
The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 7th season
The Good Fight – Marissa Gold in the first season
Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 6th season
Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 6th season
Hallmark Hanukkah Movies
Hunters – Ruth Heidelbaum and Mindy Markowitz plus in Season 1
Israeli Television Series Streaming in U.S.
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Miriam “Midge” Maisel etc. in the 3rd season
Our Boys
A Place To Call Home – Sarah Adams in the 1st season
The Plot Against America
Pose - Frederica Norman in the 2nd season
The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park – Jennifer Levin and her female relatives
Résistance - Marie Kirschen and Cristina Boïco
Vienna Blood – 1st season
Will & Grace – Grace Adler in the revived, final 11th season
World on Fire – 1st season
Younger – Lauren Heller in the 6th season

2018/2019 Season
Jewish women characters were on: Claws; Deutschland 86; Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Good Trouble; High Maintenance; Poetry in America; Portraits in Architecture – Nada Breitman-Jakov; Suits; We Will Meet Again;
Arrow – Felicity Smoak in the 7th Season
Better Things in the 3rd season
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Rebecca Bunch and others in their 4th season
Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 5th season
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – Abigail McCarthy plus in the 5th Season
The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 6th season
Israeli Television Series Streaming in U.S.;
Stockholm – Nilli and Zohara Zak in the 1st season
The/Le Tunnel – Elise Wassermann in the 3rd season
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Miriam “Midge” Maisel etc. in the 2nd season
Will & Grace – Grace Adler in the revived 10th season
X Company – 2nd and 3rd Seasons
Younger – Lauren Heller and others in the 5th season

2017/2018 Season
Jewish women characters were on: A Christmas Story Live!; The Alienist; Artful Detective/Murdoch’s Mysteries; Claws; Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. with BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are, Nazi Fugitives; Knightfall; Law & Order True Crime:The Menendez Murders; Preacher – Dany in the 2nd Season; Salvation; The Tale; and Under Her Skin. Putative Jewish woman on: Playing House.
Arrow – Felicity Smoak in the 6th Season
Better Things
The Collection
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Rebecca Bunch and others in their 3rd season
Genius: Picasso – Gertrude Stein
The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 5th season
The Fosters – Emma Kurtzman in her 5th season
A French Village (Un Village Français) – 6th and 7th seasons
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – Abigail McCarthy in the 4th Season
Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 4th season
Madam Secretary – Nadine Tolliver in the 4th season
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Miriam “Midge” Maisel etc. in the 1st season
Saving Hope – Dr. Sydney Katz in the 5th season
I Love Dick - Chris Kraus
Odd Mom Out – Jill Weber in the 3rd season
The/Le Tunnel – Elise Wassermann in the 2nd season
Veep – Shawnee Tanz in the 6th season
Will & Grace – Grace Adler in the revived 9th season
Younger – Lauren Heller and others in the 4th season

2016/2017 Season
Jewish women characters were on: Documentary Now; Fargo; Genealogy Roadshow; Hate Thy Neighbor; Hawaii Five-0; Homeland; Ray Donovan; Switched At Birth, This Is US – 1st season; and Who Do You Think You Are. Putative Jewish women characters were on: Code Black; I Love Dick; Doubt; New Girl; The Night Of; Once Upon A Sesame Street Christmas; and Saving Hope.
Arrow – Felicity Smoak in the 5th Season
Berlin Station - Golda Friedman and others in the 1st Season
Better Things - Sam
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Rebecca Bunch and others in their 2nd season
Dirty Dancing
Feed the Beast – Ruth Klein
A French Village (Un Village Français) – 4th and 5th seasons
The Fosters – Emma Kurtzman in her 4th season
Genius – Elsa and Pauline Einstein and others in the 1st season
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – Abigail McCarthy in the 3rd Season
Girls – Shoshanna Shapiro in the 6th Season
The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 4th season
Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 3rd season
The Interestings – Julie Jacobson and others in the pilot
Madam Secretary – Nadine Tolliver in the 3rd season
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Miriam “Midge” Maisel in the pilot
Odd Mom Out – Jill Weber in the 2nd season
Madiba– Ruth First and Helen Suzman in the mini-series
Ripper Street – Deborah Gorn and Rachel Castello in the 4th & 5th seasons
The/Le Tunnel – Elise Wassermann in the 1st season
The Wizard of Lies – The Madoff Women and others in mini-series
UnReal – Rachel Goldberg and others in the 2nd season
Younger – Lauren Heller and others in the 3rd season

2015/2016 Season
Jewish women characters were on: Aquarius; Banshee; Belief; Chicago P. D.; The Enfield Haunting; Grantchester; Homeland; It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia; Legends; Masters of Sex; NCIS; New Girl; Shades of Blue; The Strain, Suits – 5th season, and Who Do You Think You Are. Putative Jewish women characters were on: Devious Maids and The Walking Dead.
Arrow – Felicity Smoak in the 4th Season and 2nd Season of The Flash
Broad City – 3rd season
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Rebecca Bunch, her mother, and others in their 1st season
The Fosters – Emma Kurtzman in her 3rd season
A French Village (Un Village Français) – 2nd and 3rd seasons
Gigi’s Bucket List
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – Abigail McCarthy in the 2nd Season
Girls – Shoshanna Shapiro in the 5th Season
The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 3rd season
The Good Wife – Marissa Gold in the final season;
Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 2nd season
Inside Amy Schumer in the 4th Season
The Knick – “Genevieve Everidge” in the 2nd Season
The Last Ship – Lt. Ravit Bivas in the 2nd Season
Madam Secretary – Nadine Tolliver in the 2nd season
Madoff – Ruth Madoff and others
Manhattan – Abigail Isaacs in the 1st season
Man Seeking Woman – Liz and Patti Greenberg plus in the 2nd season
Married – Jess in the 2nd season
Marvel’s Agent Carter – Ana Jarvis in the 2nd season
Mistresses– Ariella Greenburg in the 3rd season
Murder in the First - Raffaella “Raffi” Veracruz
Odd Mom Out – Jill Weber in the 1st season
Saving Hope – Dr. Sydney Katz in the 3rd season
Transparent– Sarah, Ali, family and friends
UnReal – Rachel Goldberg and others in the 1st season
Younger – Lauren Heller in the 2nd season

2014/2015 Season Jewish women characters were on:
The Book of Negroes, Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Borders, The Dovekeepers, Boardwalk Empire, Downton Abbey, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Grimm, Houdini, Kosher Soul, The League, Mad Men, Makers: Women Who Make America, The Mysteries of Laura, New Girl, The Red Tent, Parks and Recreation, Ray Donovan, Scorpion, and The Strain. Putative Jewish women characters were on: The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Chasing Life, Elementary, Episodes, The Mindy Project, and Red Band Society.
Arrow – Felicity Smoak in the 3rd Season and 1st Season of The Flash
Big Bang Theory - Mrs. Wolowitz in her 8th and Final Season
Broad City – 2nd season
Community – Annie Edison in the 6th season
The Fosters – Emma Kurtzman in her 2nd season
A French Village (Un Village Français) – 1st season
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – Abigail McCarthy in the 1st Season
Girls – Shoshanna Shapiro in the 4th Season
Glee - Rachel Berry etc. in the 6th/final season
The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 2nd season
The Good Wife – Marissa Gold in the 6th season
Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 1st season
Hart of Dixie – Dr. Zoe Hart in the 4th season
Hindsight – Lolly Levine
The Honourable Woman – Nessa Stein and more
House of Lies - Sarah Guggenheim in the 4th season
Inside Amy Schumer 3rd Season
In the Face of Crime (Im Angesicht des Verbrechens)
Madam Secretary – Nadine Tolliver in the 1st season
Manhattan – Abigail Isaacs in the 1st season
Man Seeking Woman – Liz and Patti Greenberg plus in the 1st season
Married – Jess in the 1st season
Transparent – Sarah, Ali, family and friends in the 1st season
Younger – Lauren Heller and mother in the 1st season

2013/2014 Season
Jewish women characters were on: Black Box, Call the Midwife, Drop Dead Diva, Fargo, Foyle’s War, Genealogy Roadshow, Generation Cryo, The League, The Mindy Project, New Girl, Parks and Recreation, Scorpion and Who Do You Think You Are?. Putative Jewish woman characters were on Elementary and Episodes.
Arrow – Felicity Smoak in the 2nd Season
Big Bang Theory - Mrs. Wolowitz in the 7th Season
Broad City
Community – Annie Edison in the 5th season
The Fosters – Emma Kurtzman in her 1st season
Girls – Shoshanna Shapiro in the 3rd Season
Glee - Rachel Berry etc. in the 5th season
The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus
Hart of Dixie – Dr. Zoe Hart in the 3rd season
House of Lies - Sarah in her 2nd season
Inside Amy Schumer – 2nd Season
Joan Rivers – everywhere
Magic City – Evans family, etc. in the final, 2nd season
NCIS - Ziva David in her final season
Princesses: Long Island – 1st and hopefully only Season
Prisoners of War (Hatufim) – 2nd Season
Strike Back – Rebecca Levy in her 2nd season
Transparent– Sarah, Ali, family and friends in the pilot

2012/2013 Season
Jewish women characters were on: Alphas, The Bible, The Big C, Blue Bloods, Bunheads, Children’s Hospital, Covert Affairs, Happily Divorced, a Lifetime movie, Mad Men, Major Crimes, The Mentalist, Raising Hope, Southland, Spies of Warsaw, Suits – 2nd season, Upstair Downstairs, and Weeds. A putative Jewish woman character was on Parks and Recreation, Scorpion.
American Horror Story: Asylum – “Anne Frank”
Arrow – Felicity Smoak in the 1st Season
Big Bang Theory - Mrs. Wolowitz in the 6th Season
Community – Annie Edison in the 4th Season
Girls – Shoshanna Shapiro in the 2nd Season
Glee - Rachel Berry and Sugar Motta in the 4th season
Hart of Dixie – Dr. Zoe Hart in the 2nd season
House of Lies - Sarah in her 1st season
Inside Amy Schumer - 1st Season
Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? - Joan and Melissa Rivers – 3rd season
NCIS - Ziva David in her 8th season
Prisoners of War (Hatufim) – 1st Season
Ripper Street – Deborah Goren in the 1st Season
Shameless (U.K.) – Esther Blanco (plus)
Strike Back – Rebecca Levy in her 1st season
Underemployed – Raviva

2011/2012 Season
Jewish women characters were on Blue Bloods, Bored to Death, Castle, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Gossip Girl, Happily Divorced, Hawthorne, Mad Men, MI-5 (Spooks), Modern Family, NYC 22, Pan Am, Prime Suspect, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Southland, TNT’s Mystery Movies, and Who Do You Think You Are. Putative Jewish women characters were on The Good Wife, How To Make It In America, In Plain Sight and Lost Girl.
Big Bang Theory - Mrs. Wolowitz in the 5th Season
Community – Annie Edison in the 3rd Season
Curb Your Enthusiasm - Susie Greene etc.
Entourage - Mrs. Ari Gold in the 8th Season
Friday Night Dinner – Jackie Goodman in the 1st Season
Girls – Shoshanna Shapiro in the 1st Season
Glee - Rachel Berry and Sugar Motta in the 3rd season
Harry’s Law - Harriet Korn in the 2nd season
Hart of Dixie – Dr. Zoe Hart in the 1st season
Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? - Joan and Melissa Rivers – 2nd season
Magic City – Evans family, etc. in the 1st season
NCIS - Ziva David in her 7th season

2010/2011 Season
Jewish women characters were on 100 Questions, Being Human (U.S.), Boardwalk Empire, Brothers & Sisters, Castle, Desperate Housewives, Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., The Good Wife, Grey's Anatomy, Hung, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Nurse Jackie, Outcasts, Private Practice, and Upstairs Downstairs. I happened to catch a Jewish actress on the "make-over" show What Not To Wear. Putative Jewish women characters were on Californication, Hawthorne, Huge, and Mad Men.
18 To Life – Bellow Mother and Daughters
Big Bang Theory - Mrs. Wolowitz in the 4th Season
Community – Annie Edison in the 2nd Season
Being Erica – Erica Strange – 3rd season
Entourage - Mrs. Ari Gold in the 7th Season
Glee - Rachel Berry in the 2nd season
House, M.D. – Lisa Cuddy in the 7th season
Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? - Joan and Melissa Rivers – 1st season
NCIS - Ziva David in her 6th season
Skins (U.S.) – Tea Marvelli

2009/2010 Season
Jewish women characters were on Bored To Death, The Deep End, Fringe, The Good Wife, Leverage, Inspector Lewis, Mercy, Nip/Tuck, Private Practice, Psych, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, Three Rivers, United States of Tara, Ugly Betty, and Who Do You Think You Are. Putative Jewish women characters were on Californication, Gray's Anatomy, Heroes, House, Party Down, and White Collar.
Big Bang Theory - Mrs. Wolowitz in the 3rd Season
Being Erica – Erica Strange – 2nd season
Community – Annie Edison in the 1st Season
Curb Your Enthusiasm - Susie Greene etc.
Entourage - Mrs. Ari Gold in the 6th Season
Glee - Rachel Berry
House, M.D. – Lisa Cuddy in the 6th season
NCIS - Ziva David in her 5th season
Z Rock – Dina Malinsky, Joan Rivers and others in the 2nd season

2008/9 Season
Jewish women characters were on C.S.I., C.S.I.: NY, Diamonds mini-series, Eli Stone, Gossip Girl, Hallmark Hall of Fame, In Plain Sight, Nurse Jackie, Saving Grace, The Unit, and a Lifetime Movie of the Week. I happened to also catch a Jewish actress on the "make-over" show What Not To Wear. Putative Jewish women characters appeared in 90210, Californication, The Cleaner, Desperate Housewives, E.R., Gossip Girl, Hawthorne, Monk, and Sons of Anarchy.
Big Bang Theory - Mrs. Wolowitz in the 2nd Season
Being Erica – Erica Strange
Entourage - Mrs. Ari Gold and others in the 5th season
House, M.D. – Lisa Cuddy in the 5th season
The L Word - Jenny Schecter in the 6th, final season
NCIS - Ziva David in her 4th season
Rescue Me – Valerie in her 2nd season
The Sarah Silverman Program in her 3rd season
The Starter Wife - Molly Kagan post-mini-series
Z Rock – Dina Malinsky, Joan Rivers and others

2007/8 Season
Jewish women were on The Cleaner, Eli Stone, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Lipstick Jungle, and House, M.D.. Putative Jewish women characters appeared in Big Shots, Californication, Cashmere Mafia, Canterbury’s Law, Desperate Housewives, Terminal City, and Ugly Betty.
Big Bang Theory - Mrs. Wolowitz in the 1st Season
Curb Your Enthusiasm - Susie Greene etc.
The L Word - Jenny Schecter in the 5th season
Mad Men - Rachel Menken and Bobbie Barrett
Mandrake – Berta Bronstein
NCIS - Ziva David in her 3rd season
Nip/Tuck– Rachel Ben Natan
Pushing Daisies– Charlotte “Chuck” Charles
The Riches – the faux Cherien Rich in her 2nd season
The Sarah Silverman Program in her 2nd season
Weeds – Bubbe Botwin
The Wire - Rhonda Pearlman in the 5th season

2006/7 Season
Jewish women characters also appeared on C.S.I., Desperate Housewives, E.R., Grey's Anatomy, House, M.D., John from Cincinnati, Justice, Numb3rs, The Nine, Nip/Tuck, Rescue Me, Rome, Standoff, State of Mind, The State Within, Ugly Betty, The Unit and Waking the Dead.
Brothers & Sisters – Nora Holden
Entourage - Mrs. Ari Gold and daughter Sarah in Season 3B and Entourage - Mrs. Ari Gold and daughter Sarah in Season 4
Heroes – Hana Gitelman
The L Word - Jenny Schecter in the 4th season
Mad Men - Rachel Menken
NCIS - Ziva David in her 2nd season
Rescue Me – Valerie in her 1st season and Beth Feinberg
The Riches – the faux Cherien Rich
The Sarah Silverman Program
Weeds - Yael Hoffman
The Wire - Rhonda Pearlman in the 4th season

2005/6 Season
Jewish women characters also appeared on E.R., Girlfriends, Grey's Anatomy, Nip/Tuck, Sea of Souls and Veronica Mars
Beautiful People - Annabelle Banks
Curb Your Enthusiasm - Susie Greene etc.
Entourage - Mrs. Ari Gold and daughter Sarah in the 3rd Season
Everwood - Delia Brown in the 4th season
The L Word - Jenny Schecter in the 3rd Season
NCIS - Ziva David
Sopranos - Julianna Skiff

2004/5 Season
Jewish women characters also appeared on Grey's Anatomy, Judging Amy, Law and Order, Nip/Tuck, Veronica Mars and Waking the Dead.
Entourage - Mrs. Ari Gold
Joan of Arcadia
The L Word - Jenny Schecter in the 2nd Season
Numb3rs - The Late Mrs. Eppes
The O.C. - Rebecca Bloom and the Nana in the 2nd Season
Pilot Season
Queer as Folk - Melanie Marcus in the 5th Season
The Wire - Rhonda Pearlman in the 3rd season

2003/4 Season
Jewish women characters also appeared on CSI, Judging Amy and Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
Curb Your Enthusiasm - Anna
Gilmore Girls - Paris Geller
Joan of Arcadia
The L Word - Jenny Schecter
Line of Fire
Miss Match
Nip/Tuck - Mrs. Grubman
The O.C. - Anna Stern and the Nana
The Practice
Rocked With Gina Gershon
Sex and the City - Charlotte Goldenblatt
Sopranos- Fran Felstein
Street Time - Rachel Goldstein

2002/3 Season
Jewish women characters were on:
Breaking News
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Gilmore Girls - Paris Geller
Law and Order
Sex and the City - Charlotte York
Street Time - Rachel Goldstein
That Was Then
The Wire - Rhonda Pearlman

2001/2 Season
7th Heaven

2000/2001 Season

1999/2000 Season

2024/2025 Season

2023/2024 Season

The most powerful and effective Jewish woman impacting the TV season was Fran Drescher, President of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union of 160,000 members. They joined with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing the studios and streamers. Her strike declaration speech on July 13, 2023 laid out the themes and anger in universal labor organizing terms. While Jewish media have crowed about her dropping Yiddish phrases in other presentations, I was struck by her expressive hand motions (not to be confused with the ASL translator beside her, not visible in this clip).

Elsbeth (on CBS) – As Blue Bloods plays out its final, 14th season barely ever acknowledging the Jews in its New York setting, I was curious to see how the new Columbo-imitation series joining the crime-filled line-up on this network. None of the regular characters, of course, are Jewish, from the first episode there’s sprinklings of references to the title lawyer Tascioni coming from Chicago (and from Michelle and Robert King’s earlier The Good Wife) learning Yiddish, from characters who may be Jewish. This was most probable in the 3rd episode “A Classic New York Character”, co-written by Bryan Goluboff. Linda Lavin is very funny as the episode’s titular victim “Gloria Blecher”, the domineering, inferentially Jewish, president of a co-op board and of her cowed son “Lewis, Jr” (played by Greg Hildredth), who quotes her favorite Yiddish terms, like tsouris. And we learn at the conclusion just how much she dominated her husband, too. (4/25/2024)

The Chosen (on CW, Christian/Catholic, Amazon Prime channels) The evangelical Angel Studios presents what the showrunner calls a “realistic” portrayal of The New Testament. The publicists claim the series has garnered more than 550 million episode views across 175 countries. I’m up to watching Season 2 out of curiosity for the view of Jews in general and Jewish women in particular. Specifics forthcoming. (11/2/2023)

Curb Your Enthusiasm (on HBO, streaming on Max) – I’m several seasons behind, so I have not yet watched the final season. But the most prominent Jewish woman regular on this show about a misanthropic character is even more popular, “Susie Greene” (played by Susie Essman), such that HBO is successfully marketing her best-selling signature “Catch as Caftan”:

“Channel your inner Susie Greene and turn heads wherever you go. Look fabulous running errands, hitting the beach, or hosting a dinner party. It's the perfect blend of sass and sophistication, just like Susie herself. Sport your love for Curb Your Enthusiasm in style!” (In pink or blue prints, but I can’t wear polyester, let alone buying it for $75.95.) (7/6/2024)

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (on PBS, accessible through Passport by donor members)
In “Born To Sing”, (S10 Ep1), Canadian singer/songwriter Alanis Morrisette tells the Professor that she didn’t find out that her mother Georgia MaryAnn Feuerstein was Jewish until she was 28 years old. Some of her family survived the Holocaust in Hungary, but barely Communism, while her family’s roots go back to the same part of Galicia that is now in Ukraine as my maternal Steckel family. The Professor’s team was able to find a news clipping about what happened to her grandmother Nadinia and great-grandmother Katalin Gulyas in Canada, as well as tracing back to the early 1800s for her third great-grandmother Freuda Hardstein Blumankrantz in Drohobych. She notes that she intends to tell her kids how “super Jewish” she is. (1/3/2024)
“In Your Blood”, (S10 Ep9) features Michael Douglas and Lena Dunham, neither recognizable from their earlier work. Lena describes herself as “half-Jewish”, but the roots that were rarely discussed. Her grandmother was Dorothy Carol Trussel – ““She wasn’t forthcoming with information. She was about the present.” She only knew her grandfather as an orthodontist with a practice in Great Neck, and had no idea he’d volunteered for the military after Pearl Harbor. Prof. Gates’s researchers traced her great-grandmother Regina Seltinwirth (sp?), born in 1870, immigrated at age 14, married at 19. She was born in Tarnow, but the Prof. did not mention that when she lived there it was not Poland, but the Galicia also of my maternal Steckel family. But his researchers found a “gold mine’ -- her records at an all -girls primary school; gosh, would I be able to find that for my family? Regina left her parents and at least 11 siblings behind. The Prof’s staff was able to trace one of her brothers, who moved to Hungary with his wife and children. His daughter Ilona was separated and killed in the Kamenets-Podolsk massacre; her parents and brother survived. Prof. Gates: “You have a genetic connection to the Holocaust.” Dunham responded: “I share not just DNA, but probably features, emotional responses, and our approach to life.” Like almost all the Jewish guests on the program, he claims she’s related to Larry David, with never a discussion of Jewish endogamy. She clearly drew on her feelings about these roots for her performance in the 2024 film Treasure. (7/6/2024)

Astrid (Astrid et Raphaëlle, policier from France, part of PBS’s “Walter’s Choice” Imports) In “Golem”, S2 Ep 6, originally aired March 2021, with the series creators plus Hélène Hassoun credited as the writers, a love triangle among Orthodox Jewish AI tech entrepreneurs results in murder. The woman died in the previous year, but “Eve” (played by Chloé Franҫois) lives on in AI, for external purposes as a blonde, but in her actual brown hair and saved voice among her heartsick and revengeful friends. (11/21/2023)

Little Bird (Canadian six-part series broadcast on PBS) The story is like a fictionalized version of the documentary Daughter of A Lost Bird, that I saw at the 2021 Human Rights Watch Film Festival. But I did not expect that the forced removal of Native girl “Bezhig Little Bird” from her reserve-living family would result in her adoption into a Jewish home, becoming “Esther Rosenblum” (played by Darla Contois), as adopted by Holocaust survivor “Golda” (played by Lisa Eldelstein). The series was developed by showrunners Jennifer Podemski, who identifies as of “mixed Anishinaabe (First Nation) and Ashkenazi (Jewish)” descent (she grew up unaware that her maternal grandparents were victims of the residential school system, but with familiarity that her father is Israeli and his father a Holocaust survivor), and Nova Scotian playwright Hannah Moscovitch, whose son, per Instagram post, does “zoom Shabbat with his bubby and zaydie.” Commentary forthcoming. (updated 11/3/2023)

World On Fire – 2nd season - I forgot that “Henriette Guilbert” (played by Eugénie Derouand), continued from the first season, also created and written by Peter Bowker, is a gutsy Jewish nurse in the Resistance. Escaping suspicions in a Paris hospital for a small coastal village, she confessed her identity (that I didn’t catch), in worry about her brother’s arrest, to the cocky, flirtatious, handsome downed Jewish RAF pilot “David” (with a single name in the military that could be his first or surname, he is played by Jewish actor Gregg Sulkin) who she heals, protects, intensely romances while hidden in a farmer’s barn, and farewells for a boat back to England. He does Shabbat prayers upon his safe return, but she’s picked up by the Gestapo, who can tell her ID is a forgery and that she is really the daughter of Rose and Ben. In prison, she’s surprised when her contact warns she’ll be sent directly to Ravensbrück for females in Germany—and that Jews are treated differently there. Having survived torture (“I gave away two comrades who are already dead and one who knows they are coming”), she’s sure she can escape – perhaps hopeful to rendezvous with “David”. (11/21/2023)

2022/2023 Season

10-episode mini-series adaptation streaming at FX on Hulu, that I don’t usually have access to, as of November 17, 2022 of Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman Is In Trouble, 380 pages, 2019, Random House, in paperback/Kindle/audiobook (National Book Award Longlist; Best Book of the Year: NYPL, NPR, EW, NYT, Time, WaPo, USA Today, VF, Vogue, Chicago Tribune, Guardian, GQ, , Refinery29, Elle, Good Housekeeping, New Statesman, Marie Claire, Town & Country, Evening Standard, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews) – that I haven’t read yet.

The Equalizer (on CBS) – While I sometimes watch NYC-set shows in case Jewish characters appear, I wasn’t interested in this violent re-make of 1980s series and additional re-incarnations, even though some episodes have been filmed in my neighborhood. There was pre-publicity about “Never Again” (S3 Ep11), co-written by two Jews, co-showrunner Adam Glass and debut script writer Ora Yashar, who in interviews has noted her family is Mizrahi from Iran, of a somewhat realistic hate crimes. First, two living Jewish women appear briefly about the crimes (and are not shown in any of the publicity stills). “Rebekah” (Ali Stoner) is the inheritor of a family business who called in the crime-fighters; “Cheryl McKenna” (Dawn McGees) is more unusual for TV: I'm not Jewish, but I'm in the process of converting. I love the community. They took us in after my husband died and everyone at Mitzi's is like family to us…And I don't want to leave what I've built…How can we leave the community when they are at their lowest? The publicity made much that this was the first episode that uses actor Adam Goldberg’s own background of having one Jewish parent, as he comes to Brooklyn to investigate antisemitic incidents. “Adam Keshegian” is revealed to have a Jewish mother, though there’s a twist on the usual dead mother syndrome: Mitzi's deli in Midwood? That's [my] old stomping grounds. Wow, haven't thought about that place in a long time. Best chocolate babkas in Brooklyn. Got me through some rough times…You know, growing up with a Jewish mom and an Armenian dad, I can't say I knew where I stood in the community, but I definitely know where I stand on hate crimes. Look at this. Antisemitic incidents were at an all-time high last year in the U.S. and assaults up 167%. No wonder the Jewish community is scared. The rabbi (played by Richard Mazur, but the publicity department identified him as Saul Rubinek, so most press coverage just said so) recognizes “Harry”s name: You're Sara's boy. You left us just before your bar mitzvah. “Harry”: Yeah. My dad and I moved to Long Island after the divorce. I didn't see much of her. Rabbi: Your mother, should she rest in peace, was a wonderful woman. He tells his Asian wife “Melody (Mel) Bayani” (played by Liza Lapira): The rabbi keeps talking about my mom like she was this perfect specimen of a human being. Not the mom I grew up with. What kind of mother abandons their kid? She didn't even fight for me when my parents split up. Another incident brings “Harry” again to the rabbi: Boychik, you have a good heart. Your mother... She should rest in peace... She had a good heart, too. She was always trying to help...It's like how every Jewish holiday started. They tried to kill us. We won. Let's eat. “Harry”: I don't know how you can be laughing at a time like this. Rabbi: Do you know what your Hebrew name is?..It's Itzhak. It means laughter. You can't lose your joy, Harry. If you let them crush your spirit, they win. After he solves the crime, and saves the rabbi, “Harry”: I'm glad that you have such fond memories of my mom. But, I can't say the same about a woman who abandoned me the way that she did. Rabbi: Of course. You don't know, do you?...Your mother, she suffered from horrible bouts of depression. It was to the synagogue that she came, and it helped. But she felt she couldn't help you, and so she set you free so you could thrive. “Harry”: Why didn't my father tell me any of this? Rabbi: Because your mother made him swear he wouldn't. She was ashamed. “Harry”: 'Cause mental illness wasn't talked about much back then. Rabbi: It still isn't. And your father loved your mother very much. He would have done anything for her. But he didn't know how to help her. So he decided to help you instead. And look what a mensch you've turned into. Because you were born out of love. He explains to his wife that he feels moved to light a candle: I've never done this before. But I saw my mom do this for my grandmother. This is how the Jewish people honor their dead. Make sure that their memory lives on, burns bright. I was just so mad at my mom. I just... I never honored her or my people. This is for you, mom, and he says kaddish. (5/17/2023)

The Patient (originally on Hulu, repeated on FX) – In a 10-episode horror series created and written by Joel Fields and Joseph Weisberg (both Jewish), psychotherapist “Alan Strauss” (Steve Carell) held captive by a serial killer keeps flashing back to unchronologically revealed haunted times with his late wife “Beth” (played by Laura Niemi). She was a guitar-playing Reform cantor trying to reconcile with her Ultra-Orthodox-turned son “Ezra” (Andrew Leeds). In Episode 3 “Issues”, she insists on singing “Dodi Li” in Hebrew at his wedding, that quotes lines from “Song of Songs” – and several offended Ultra-Orthodox men from her daughter-in-law “Chava” (Amy Handelman)’s family walk out. At another point in his past the couple visit with the grandchildren – but bring their own food in plastic containers, eat off paper plates, and can’t have for dessert the ice cream their grandmother doles out to others. “Ezra” also has a younger sister “Shoshana”, played by Renata Friedman. I guess this is supposed to show that the therapist struggles with empathy like he’s trying to get his patient to feel? Disclosure: our cousin’s brother Alan Blumenfeld is in some episodes as “Chaim Benjamin”.
In Episode 5 “Pastitsio”, “Alan” makes a death pact with another prisoner to pass on messages: Tell my daughter, Shoshana, I love her very much and treasure our time together…I want her to find a way to move on. Ezra, my son... Tell him I loved him very much and that his mother loved him, too. Even when it was difficult between them. And that I'm... sorry that there was so much... conflict in the family when she was dying… When Ezra went to college... ...he fell in with one of those rabbis with the black hats and... suddenly he's an Orthodox Jew. No parties. Doesn't turn the lights on or off during the Sabbath. Beth, my wife...this all... just drove her crazy. Everybody following their own paths wasn't exactly her cup of tea. I did my best to help her with it, but…Ezra did not make it easy. His family could not even come over to our house without bringing their own food. You know about kosher food? It's regular food with a thousand rules. This one birthday party for Ezra's son... she wanted to bring some... When the prisoner talks about his life, “Alan” for some reason flashes back when his son was young and his wife leading the congregation with her guitar from “Shabbat Shalom” to a song for children “I’ve Got That Shabbat Feeling (Up in My Head)”. “Ezra” calls out: That’s my Mommy! “Beth” acknowledges him: I'm a cantor, but I'm also a mommy. This is my son Ezra. In Episode 6 “Charlie”, “Alan” flashes back to his session with his female therapist curious about his wife’s Jewish funeral. He shrugs: This one had more singing than usual. He has another flashback of his wife the cantor singing on the bima – but this time he’s not with their kids in the congregation.
Episode 7 “Kaddish” gets more into the parents complicated relationship with their son “Ezra” since he turned Ultra-Orthodox, but this still seems a thin reed to link empathy issues with a serial killer lacking any. He interprets his dreams as missing his late wife and estranged son. But he’s upset that he can’t remember the words to say Kaddish for his wife – so the kidnapper sets a computer printer to get the words. He goes on a rant, bringing together the issues of his dead wife and his renegade son: He's left us all in the dust. That whole family, his in-laws, they are over at his house constantly. Helping with the kids, waiting on them hand and foot. It's like they're all living together in the shtetl. Whenever we visited, we were like second-class citizens. We were somehow not Jewish enough. Beth, who devoted her life and career to Judaism... Liberal Judaism, but still... She was not Jewish enough. And we smiled, and smiled and smiled. When she got sick, he still couldn't get past himself. Always had to have the last word. She was lying there, in bed... in so much pain, spit coming out of her mouth. She wants to go out on her terms, with her family around her. We got the pills. It's all ready. And you know what the fսckеr, the little fսckеr said to me? "It's illegal." Not just that it's against God, but it's illegal. Like we're criminals. And he will have no part of it. Judgmental. That day, the last day, she's lying there, he gives his holier-than-thou speech, and he walks out of the house. And I go after him, mostly just to talk to him. Trying to get him to come back inside. "Don't-don't do anything that you are going to regret doing for the rest of your life." And I get back this torrent. I never understood him. I was never there for him. I mistreated him ever since he became Orthodox. I said the wrong thing to the rabbi at his son's bris. I didn't give a big enough donation to his fսcking yeshiva in Israel. I once said that his wife made the best kosher steak that I had ever had. How about that? I complimented his wife. I get that he was hurting. His whole life was a rebellion against his mother. I support rebellions, obviously. I get it. And his mother... there was a lot to rebel against. A lot of individuating to do. But at a certain point, you have to come back around. You have to grow up. Well, it sounds as if with all the emotion and pain swirling around Beth's death, Ezra hit a bad spot. You did, too. But we know these things pass. It didn't pass. That day, Beth wanted to die with her family around her, and he had to throw this tantrum. He was struggling to process the pain of his mother's death. Okay. But he's always been like that. He digs in, and he can't see any other way but the way he sees things. No wonder he became Orthodox. I've been reaching out, over and over. Nothing. I know grief can do this, but...
Episode 8 “Ezra” was twice as long as each of the others. “Allan” rants on about the misconstrued compliment on his daughter-in-law’s cooking. Then on about the donation to the yeshiva, comparing him to their daughter: After college, Shoshana's in medical school, and he has to go to this goddamn Orthodox yeshiva in Jerusalem. Fine. His second year, Beth has a conference there, so we figure I'll come along, and we'll visit Ezra. We get there, before we see him at the yeshiva, he sends, a set of instructions to her on how she is supposed to dress, like Beth doesn't know how to dress around Orthodox Jews. So, she covers her hair, every inch of her flesh. He takes us to meet the rebbe. Forget your stereotypes. Young, hulking guy. Could've played football. He tells us that Ezra is a real ben torah. And Ezra's just beaming, like this is the best compliment he's ever gotten. And the contribution? Ah. I was supposed to make a contribution, right there in the office. This was made clear to me. So, I write a check for $1,000. But then we're in the driveway, his mother is literally dying in the house, and he says I don't respect him. I don't respect his choices. That I gave Shoshana, whatever, $40,000 a year for medical school, and I gave his yeshiva a paltry $1,000. Is yeshiva free? He never asked me to pay for it. He got a job and a partial scholarship. He asked you for a donation. And I made one. Do you know what it felt like to walk through that yeshiva with Beth? Imagine if your son became a Scientologist, and you had to walk through the Scientology Center with him, and at the end, you gave a donation because you wanted to make a gesture, and he took it as an insult?...Ezra, you broke up our family." "You thought you had all the answers. You were so righteous. You humiliated your mother. You devastated her. I want to say you killed her, but I know that's not true. All your mother wanted, all she asked was to be able to hold the hands of both her children in her dying moment, and even this, you could not do. Your way of looking at the world had to be the only way. Everyone else is wrong." The imagined therapist reminds him: You said, "Like his mother." He continues to compare his kids: At synagogue, with Beth, the both of them so sure of themselves, about everything. Shoshana was mine. Reasonable, became a therapist. Able to consider everyone else's point of view… Rigid, know-it-all Ezra is as much my kid as Beth's. More. I did look down on him, on his religious choices. I have been blaming him. Then suddenly we see his son putting up missing flyers, and he doesn’t talk to his worried wife when he gets home. He brings their kids some kind of candy treat from what looks like a kosher store, that the family does not appreciate, so I didn’t get the comparison to them refusing his mother’s offer of ice cream dessert. In a series of scenes that I suppose was him thinking of his late mother, he listens Paul Simon’s secular song “You Can Call Me Al” in the car to his parents’ house, then inside he picks up a guitar that might have been hers, and sings “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.
The DVR or FX ate the last 2 episodes! (updated 5/28/2023)

A Small Light

The Frank, van Pels, and Gies families celebrate Hanukkah in the upcoming limited series A SMALL LIGHT, from National Geographic and ABC Signature in partnership with Keshet Studios. From left: Liev Schreiber as Otto Frank, Ashley Brooke as Margot Frank, Rudi Goodman as Peter van Pels, Billie Boullet as Anne Frank, Amira Casar as Edith Frank, Caroline Catz as Mrs. [Auguste] van Pels, Noah Taylor as Dr. [Fritz] Pfeffer, Joe Cole as Jan Gies, Bel Powley as Miep Gies, and Andy Nyman as Mr. [Hermann] Van Pels. (Photo credit: National Geographic for Disney/Dusan Martincek)
(shown on National Geographic and Disney+ Channels, co-produced with Israeli company Keshet Studios and Media) Eight-episode internationally cast mini-series focuses on surprisingly young Miep Gies who hid the family of her boss Otto Frank in the annex behind his jam business office. Husband-and-wife producing and writing team Joan Rater and Tony Phelan (who also directed three episodes) were the showrunners. Producer Susannah Fogel directed the first three episodes, and joined them in this panel. (Leslie Hope directed two other episodes; Ben Esler wrote Episode 4, William Harper wrote Episode 5.) In other interviews, Phelan described being inspired by visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam with their children. While it looks like they well use the Amsterdam setting, it seems like so many in the population were involved in resistance activities.
Unlike the plaster saints presentation I expected, the characterizations are fulsome, even if the amount of fictionalizations about people in and outside the annex isn’t clear. As to the Franks, I liked the opening focus on “Anne”s quieter older sister “Margot” on July 6, 1942, as it was her call up to report to a work camp that precipitated their immediate need to hide. Both played by British actresses, “Anne” is droll as a teenage smart-aleck and her fairly authoritarian mother, already unmoored from having to flee Nazis from Germany to learn another language in The Netherlands, plotzing what to do with her in their confined situation. “Miep” negotiates with “Anne” to stop the arguing. But also cramped in the annex is another Jewish mother, “Auguste van Pels” (I thought Jews didn’t have aristocratic German names) who bemoans the loss of her physical possessions while doting on her son who seems more immature than “Anne”.
In Episode 3 “Motherland”, written by William Harper, we learn the Gieps, as romantic resistance-ers, have a Jewish landlady, a grandmother “Mrs. Henrietta Stoppleman” (Liza Sadovy) who is suddenly hosting her daughter “Frannie” (Jenn Kirk), son-in-law “Lou” (Sean Brodeur), and two noisy grandchildren, 7-year-old “Liddy Cohen” (Audrey Kattan) and 5-year-old “Alfred” (George Cobell) when their hometown of Leiden was declared off-limits to Jewish residents. But the daughter too hopefully thinks they can just return by train, abandoning the children at her arrest, sent to Westerbork transit camp, and on to a more permanent solution (as her brother on the Jewish Council learns). With surprising help from an SS officer (not the first German soldier seen to turn a convenient blind eye, and to even help the resistors), the tenants have to deal with two rambunctious Jewish children to be fostered somewhere safer, disguised with peroxided hair. As their exhausted “Uncle Max” says ruefully about trying to care for them just one day: They look just like me and Franny at that age. But they are not safe outside or inside. The grandmother who is first very upset about being separated from her “grandbabies”, rallies herself to make a moving farewell to them (approximate transcription, with missing lines): It doesn’t matter what color your hair is or what name people call you, you are your mother’s and father’s children and Oma’s children, you might be asked to do things that Jews don’t do, but it’s very important in Judaism is to preserve life, you have to live and you must do what you must and Oma will understand and always love you..
In Episode 4 “The Butterfly”, written by Ben Esler (who also plays a priest), the strains of hiding are also seen on a Jewish couple being shielded at a church. The wife “Dora” (Abigail Rice) has become more and more depressed about how their young son “Nathan” is faring, not believing a photograph because he’s gotten older. When allowed to glimpse him to show that he is being taken care of just makes her loudly hysterical and at risk of revealing their position and their protectors: I miss my baby! I let you talk me into giving him up. I don’t see my little boy, I see a stranger! I want to see my son!, and screams his name over and over. After the hiddens vicariously enjoy “Miep” going to her Christmas skating party (“Auguste” even loans her grandmother’s fur stole), they share together the first night of Hannukah, per the above still.
In Episode 5 ”Scheiẞfeld (Shitfield)”, the Jewish landlady (awkwardly with a slightly different name and played by a different actress) is accommodated out of town – but only in exchange to let the protector’s son stay in her apartment because he riled up the “Green Police” (aka Ordnungspolizei/ Order Police who wore green uniforms). “Miep” continues to be buffer between “Anne” and her mother, even over romance. “Edith Frank” gets to be portrayed more sympathetically than usual: Ten years ago Otto came to me and said I have a terrible feeling, I want to take the girls and get us out of Germany. I finally agreed and we got out. I hated him, but I never stopped loving him…Marriages grow up too, you have to let them. Anne calls our marriage passionless, but she doesn’t know. Otto knows how to keep us safe and raise our daughters and how I take my tea. There’s something romantic in that.
In Episode 6 “Boiling Point”, directed by Tony Phelan, written by Alyssa Margarite Jacobson, everyone’s nerves are on edge and getting careless, among the hiders and seemingly throughout the city, as the Allies advance. “Anne” and “Margot” are even planning their post-war lives. “Mrs. Van Pels” only half-jokingly warns “Anne”: If you publish that diary I want to read it first. Did you put in the time I got my hand caught in the sink? “Margot” wants to go to Paris and show her mother a Renoir and I want to be a midwife and help babies be born. However, the very pale “Edith Frank” is losing it – “Miep” finds her wandering outside the annex in her robe: I just wanted to get away for a minute…Their nonstop planning and chatters about the end of the war as if our girls are already free and out of danger. I feel so ashamed, I have this bad feeling. I can’t shake it. I have this dark hole in my stomach that this war will never end. Margot and Anne look at me and they have so much life in their eyes, so much hope. I can’t look back at them. I’ll kill it. I’ll destroy their hope from my eyes. It’s been two years since I’ve been outside, is it better? Tell me it’s better out there? Was the body of a man with a yellow star in a canal a suicide? In follow-up on the Jewish landlady, the Germans’ process of clearing out the apartments of disappeared Jews continues to be portrayed as ruthlessly efficient as it is corrupt. The music of Jewish composer Felix Mendelssohn, from a flashback as played by a Jewish woman violin soloist (Julie Svecena) with the Jüdischer Kulturbund in a concert hall, then she segues into playing the same tune in a holding area for transport. Also in that holding area are two Jewish nurses (one perhaps is “Esther”, played by Jessica Boone). First they warn nursing, Yiddish-lullabye-singing mother “Corry” (Maya Gorkin) who doesn’t want to be parted Tomorrow on the transport you’ll bring this doll. At Westerbork you won’t have the doll. If they ask say the baby died on route. The nurse hands the weeping mother the doll. Would these nurses already know babies were being killed and the transport led to death? They even manage to sneak a few children away from the tail end of the round-up and arrange foster care. But then they need hiding places themselves. “Jan” compliments the nurses: You saved countless children. One retorts: How many countless children did we send off? Their own rescue is scarily accomplished with another German resistance collaborator – really there were so many in Amsterdam, or is this version bending over backwards to look “balanced”?
In Episode 7 “What Can Be Saved”, there is again an almost-reasonable Nazi who doesn’t arrest “Miep” during the raid of the annex on August 4, 1944. “Margot” cries more than “Anne”. In the finale “Legacy”, “Jan” is picking up the Jewish children he’d put out for fostering, particularly “Liddy Cohen”, their landlady’s granddaughter. The foster mother at first seems to be acting suspiciously, insisting the girl had become known as “Saskia”. But it’s sadder – she got diptheria, and the town doctor figured out she was Jewish, refused to treat her, and she died. While “Mrs. Stoppleman” has returned home to anxiously awaits her grandson, she realizes most of her chairs are gone, and “Miep”s explanation of needing firewood sets off a howl of frustration that one rarely sees that the survivors must have felt: Why is it always me who has to understand? They tell me my granddaughter Liddy is dead - they say, you have to understand, we did the best we could. You don’t know what it’s like to lose everything! My daughter, my son-in-law, my granddaughter. I know it’s silly because they’re only chairs, but they were my chairs! Mine! You had no right! The foster mother brings “Alfred” (Jasper Thatai), but notes he’s been called “Johann”. His grandmother sees he’s holding back: Do you remember me? I’m your Oma! With a big smile. As “Miep” had suggested, Oma holds out a dwarf figurine: Remember this little man? You used to love to play with him. In fact, one day you broke him all to pieces and we glued it back together. Do you remember that? Do you want to hold him? Look you can see where we glued him back together? “Alfred” comes over and whispers: I remember you. A commercial interrupted their probable reunion hug. “Miep” finds a shopping note in her pocket in “Mrs. Van Pels”s handwriting – “Cheese” - I can hear her say “Don’t forget to buy cheese.” She loves cheese…It’s been a month since liberation, a door opens and it’s never them. “Jan”, who has been working at the main railroad station checking in the displaced, reassures her, and we see the former prisoners there with shaved heads and wearing stripes. One is a shell-shocked “Sophie” (Anna Joan): They say I can qualify for services if I lived here.? I have no identification, and my mother and father are gone. When “Otto Frank” shows up like a ghost, the Mieps quickly learn that his wife didn’t survive. But they hold out hope for his daughters because they were sent to Bergen-Belsen which was a work camp, not a death camp, so that’s good news. and keep searching for information. The father tries to adjust: I’m heartbroken and I miss my family, but I’m here, explaining that “Peter” took care of him in the camp like a father, who’d been ill at the crucial selection. One of their rounds for information is getting the latest “confirmed dead” list – and “Otto” says kaddish for him. Walking in the park, a couple stops “Jan”: It’s you! You helped us. In the church you brought us a picture of our boy. We were reunited with our son Nathan a month ago. It’s been great. We are so grateful. Sorry to bother you, but he saved our family. Thank you for everything. In the office, one of those female ghosts comes to the office, “Ilse” (Nadia Babke): I knew his daughters in Bergen-Belson. I received this letter asking for information. I have information. As the office workers reminisce about the hiddens, “Miep” remembers the diary she put in a file cabinet, and brings it into “Otto”s office: I was saving this for her. You should have it. But he’s just been told his daughters’ demise and can’t look at it yet. She runs through the crowd of returnees at the station to tell her husband: They’re all gone! “Otto” comes in with the diary and asks “Miep” Did you read this? I had no idea. The things she writes about, the way she writes, thinks. I knew she was a quick and clever girl, but I feel like I didn’t know her. We were hiding as a family, but she was hiding too. She was hiding a part of herself that maybe she didn’t want me to see. I’m so glad I did. Thank you Miep. It was like getting to watch her grow up. You saved this. You gave it to me. Thank you. - hug. In the closing credits, the main cast is shown next to photographs of the actual people smiling. (updated 5/23/2023)

Vienna Blood – 3rd season (on PBS, based on the mystery novels by Frank Tannis that I haven’t read.) The series producer describes the Liebermanns as representative of “middle class Jews living in a city where they can enjoy citizenship and civil rights at the turn of the 20th century.” Director Robert Dornhelm notes this family “has their own rituals and sense of humor”, while the main character now in 1908 is “more mature”, the Jewish women in the life of the British Jewish “Max Liebermann” (Matthew Beard) are getting to be less ornamental and more independent of him, just as his success as a Freudian psychologist and writer on the criminal mind is bringing him more attention. In the season opener “Deadly Communion”, written by executive producer Steve Thompson, he bumps into his ex-fiancée “Clara Weiss” (played by Luise von Finckh) at the door of the couturier. She: I didn’t know you are interested in fashion. Max explains he’s there as part of his murder investigation, but then assumes: Are you here for a fitting? She retorts sarcastically: Of course, women only have one thing on their minds – looking glamorous. Actually, I’m here on business. He: What business is that? She: My business and none of yours. They manage to exchange pleasantries before they go their ways. Later to his crime-solving partner police inspector, he attributes her reaction: We had a flirtation, and next thing I know she called off her engagement…We’re like two stars colliding, then devastation. (The “previously on” intro had his father sternly complaining: She was seen entering your apartment late at night.) At a bar, the two investigative partners toast “To devastation!”
His sister “Leah” (Charlene McKenna) is fully involved in the family textile business; his father may not be joking: She’s in charge. (Producer Hilary Bevan Jones in a background interview noted: “By his sister joining the family business, she gets Max off the hook, and keeps her father in order.”) “Max” asks his sister’s opinion of the designer. She sniffs: No corset. Their father feels the caftans she specializes in disguise women’s femininity. “Leah” shrugs: It’s called ‘fashion’. Not that anybody around here would know about that. (The director in a background interview: “Leah is so funny. I enjoy her witty lines. It’s so enjoyable that we are not stereotyping the characters.”) “Leah” is still BFFs with “Clara”, who is excited when they meet at a café: I sold my first article to a newspaper! On the Vienna fashion industry - I got an interview with the designer “Max” is investigating. The two women toast to “Clara”s new career.
In Part 2, “Clara” gets bad news from the newspaper editor: We will not be able to print your article. You can keep the money. You write very well, but people want the crime story, not fashion. She immediately pitches that she knows the investigator, and can write up the crime story. But “Max” turns her down. She persists: He knows you talked to another paper. I think I can do this. I’m smart I can write. The only thing missing is good contacts. He makes it sadly personal: That’s what I’ve become is it? She returns to professionalism, and the victims: You don’t think I can be helpful to you? I know the fashion world, and you admit it’s completely alien to you. These women— it seems to me you need a woman’s perspective. How about we share information? I pass along what I’ve learned at the salon and you let me into your investigation? What do you think? He gets even more patronizing: I can’t be your passport to your new life. Clara. At dinner with his parents and sister, his mother toasts his success, and offers art and furniture for his new apartment - that she knows is not his modern, avant-garde taste. (The actress playing her notes in a background interview: “Rachel adores Max.”) His father teases: You got off with no mention of lacking a wife. “Max” has to literally come hat in hand to “Clara”: I need to know about masks as a fashion accessory. She insists: What is it you want from me? He: I want your help, Clara. She: I thought you washed your hands of me. He: You were right what you said to me. Fashion is not my world - you know more about it than I do. She, triumphantly: Exactly. He: I’m offering to let you in on an investigation. He pretends his sister’s role when he seeks information from a designer: My family is in the fabric business. I want to see your antique collection. Later, “Clara” comes to him with a big smile – and her published article. He congratulates her: I hope this is going to be the beginning of a partnership. She, all smiles, extends her black gloved hand, and they shake on it.
The opening of “God of Shadows”, Part 1 (same writer and director) emphasizes the Liebermann’s are Jewish, as the parents are happy to be going to a family bar mitzvah back in London. While his father expects “Leah” to stay to run the business, his mother is surprised that “Max” feels he can’t leave his patients. She wants him to stay with his sister so they won’t be alone. “Leah” and “Clara” come in, looking the happiest we’ve ever seen them, now that they are both on their ways professionally. “Mrs. Liebermann” exclaims she is proud of “Clara”s article on the (real) artist Richard Gerstl, calling it “brilliant”, though “Leah” mocks that she didn’t read it all. “Max” makes a point of leaving with “Clara”: So you interview famous artists now. She, coolly: I write what I’m assigned. But I would love to do another crime story. He: I’ll see what I can rustle up. She: Why did you want to walk out with me? But they are interrupted. However, that conversation leads his parents to confront “Max” later: His mother: What were you whispering about? She is upset that “Clara” was seen leaving his apartment at night -- by Frau Schmidt…I won’t forgive you if you lie to us. His father is even angrier: You turned your back on her once and ruined her happiness. Don’t trifle with her again. Mother threatens guilt: Don’t make it hard for us to be proud of you. “Max” is defensive: She’s a professional writer and she comes to me for information. His father warns: Be careful. We don’t want to see either of you get hurt.
In Part 2, “Max” meets “Clara” at a park café, and she eagerly anticipates: You have a story for me? But is disappointed at what it seems to be about: Is this why you invited me here? You invited me to write about trinkets? I thought you had a crime story for me! “Max”: Trust me. There is a crime story hidden in here somewhere. When he also involves his family in laying the trap for the culprit, “Leah” feels she has to take the lead: Papa, must you be so dense?, and she takes on more of their false bidding at the furniture auction, to “Max”s surprise: My family seems to be bidding against each other. “Clara” is there and tells “Max”: You attracted quite a crowd thanks to my article. Now you keep your side of the bargain - you told me there’s a story here. He pleads for her patience – and at the end he’s reading a newspaper inside a café when she joins him: Congratulations on becoming the best crime reporter in the city. She: Thanks to my secret source He: Not so secret. She: I wanted to thank you for your help, and gives him a gift, I think cuff links. But he wants to flirt: You could thank me by having dinner with me. She hesitates, then: We found a way to coexist. It’s better if we don’t spoil it. Don’t you agree? She orders champagne for two. In another background piece, the producers, writer, and actress are all proud to explain that “Clara”s burgeoning journalism career is inspired by a real Jewish woman in Austria at this time - Alice Schalek.
In “Death Is Now A Welcome Guest, Pt 1”, with the same writer and director of the season, “Max” had been invited to come to the premiere of a film by its star, and “Clara” tries to ask her questions. Instead, both witness her death.
Meanwhile, “Leah” is delighted for her parents to leave on their family visit. She complains: They treat me like I’m 12. “Max” jokes to them: She’s the youngest - she’ll be leading me astray. As soon as they’re out the door, she offers him a martini. Late at night, she announces a visitor – “Clara” pronounces she actually came to see “Max”, and “Leah” leaves them alone. “Clara”: What happened at the salon last night? “Max”: Who is asking - my friend or the editor? “Clara”: I went there to get an interview with the fraulein. “Max”: And you ended up with the story of her murder. “Clara”: So it’s true - it was murder? “Max”: There’ll be a statement from the police first thing in the morning. “Clara”: But you can save me all the bother and share it with me now. How did she die? “Clara” flirtatiously admires that he’s wearing her gift cuff links: They suit you…Come on Max just a little bit. All I get offered is trivial little pieces in the gossip columns. I really want the story. And trouble does seem to follow you around…What if I give something in return? They say she had a secret lover. Maybe, maybe not. Someone with influence. Someone important. “Max”: She was poisoned…But don’t use my name when you write it. In a supplemental interview, the actor notes that “Max” now sees “Clara” in a different light, as a professional, while the actress who plays “Clara” sees them as having “the close intimacy” of growing up together. The director hinted that he hopes they will “find each other”.
“Max”’s neurology department chair reads her article about the star’s death, and apologizes to him for treating the victim superficially as a patient at the hospital. The siblings host a dinner with him and other colleagues. “Leah” entertains them with their mother’s stories of her brother’s precocity at age 2 to be a doctor. “Max”s boss tells him: Your sister is nothing like you. “Max”: Tell her - that will make you enormously popular. “Leah”, who is a bit tipsy, flirts back: I thought all psychiatrists were supposed to be oddballs and cranks, and not so attractive. Meanwhile, nationalists are starting to march in the streets and rally. (updated 2/10/2023)

Hallmark’s Hanukkah on Rye - written by a Jewish regular of the channel’s Christmas and other romantic movies Julie Wolfe Sherman (and directed by Peter DeLuise), starring Yael Grobglas and Jeremy Jordan. (DVR’d, but not yet watched)
Hulu, that I sometimes get access to but don’t subscribe to, also had a 2002 Hanukkah rom com: Menorah in The Middle, starring Lucy DeVito and Jonah Platt.

Andor (on Disney+) Not since the infamous “Jar Jar Binks” character have I seen a Star Wars character reflect a negative ethnic stereotype. While Season 1 features a Masterpiece Theater display of British actors, in “Episode 5: The Axe Forgets”, directed by Susanna White and written by Dan Gilroy, “Eedy Karn” is played by Kathryn Hunter with her full native New York City accent when nagging her adult son “Syril” (played by Kyle Soller), who came home for solace after being shamed at his imperial assignment on Ferrix by The Rebels in the 3rd episode. She plots to get his uncle’s help to make up for him with the Empire. Sure looked to me like the way a stereotypical Jewish mother is portrayed! A fan site notes that ”Syril” was first introduced in a Leg-O set. (Thanks to Rachel Gostl for the reference!)
- (L-R): Eedy Karn (Kathryn Hunter) and Syril Karn (Kyle Soller) in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
She is back at their dining table in the 9th episode, written by Beau Willimon and directed by Toby Haynes, which contrasts how The Rebels and their mothers are supportive. But she sounds even more like a stereotyped Jewish mother. Her son resentfully returns to her quarters and her nagging. After commenting on his improved appearance, she continues: One worries. You’ve been so busy these days, perhaps you’re forgetting to eat. He: You’ve been searching my room again. She: It’s called cleaning. I like a tidy house. He: You’ve been in my private box. I have ways of knowing. She lists how she’s helped his career: I find you a job. I press your uniform. I prepare two meals a day. I move mountains to scrape you off the floor and put you back on your feet. And what do I reap? I just wanted a return on my investment…A shadow of a son - What if I let your neglect drive me insane? Imagine that. Look back to when you could easily ignore me. Imagine I cracked under the weight of your neglect and I wasn’t here to pick up the pieces! He counters that he has managed to wrangle a promotion and she switches to a smile: I knew they’d recognize your promise. Uncle will be so pleased! I could quote her similar maternal jabs in subsequent episodes as he does take the Uncle’s proffered civil service-type job – and manipulates it to suit his obsessed ambition. Some might say she is as much “Livia” in The Sopranos as a stereotyped Jewish mother. (updated 1/14/2023)
Star Wars: prequels/sequels/series

Miriam “Midge” Maisel etc. –in 5th season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (on Amazon, final season) I’m looking forward to streaming – and commenting on -- the first and subsequent seasons first. (3/17/2023)

All Creatures Great and Small (shown in the U.S. on PBS, re-make of the series based on the James Herriot books) In the Season 3 finale of this sweet family show, “Merry Bloody Christmas”, written by Ben Vanstone, set in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II, the veterinary household is hosting an urban evacuee child. Set in rural Darby, Yorkshire, “Eva Feldman” (played by the adorable Ella Bernstein) is evidently the first Jew any of them have ever met. While she explains Hanukkah to them and they are open to learning to light candles as she says the blessing, everyone in the household is eager to introduce her to all their Christmas traditions, including hanging “socks” (as she calls them), meeting “Father Christmas”, learning to correctly pronounce and play “The First Noel”, and apparently attend Christmas Mass. They seem to be oblivious to how religiously coercive they are. (3/8/2023)

Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge (on National Geographic, July 2022) Actress Natalie Portman guest starred in an episode traipsing through and up cliffs in Utah’s Escalante Desert. She was promoting her summer starring role return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in Thor: Love and Thunder as “Dr. Jane Foster – Woman of Science” aka “Mighty Thor”. While he repeatedly refers to her as a mother, and encourages her to talk about her two sons, he gives her several opportunities to say more about her background. But she demures to say only that she grew up in the New York suburbs. Did she not mention her Jewish/Israeli identity? Or was that edited out? (updated 1/6/2023, after seeing the awful movie)

Cobra 2: Cyberwar (Sky production on PBS) - As the cyber attacks on the United Kingdom pile up in this scarily realistic Ben Richards-written series, the prime minister “Robert Sutherland” (played against type by Robert Carlyle) can’t even find comfort from his lawyer wife “Rachel” (Lucy Cohu) who is being trolled, first for her private clients, then for being a Jewish lawyer to boot. The PM’s Chief of Staff “Anna Marshall” (Victoria Hamilton) responds strategically: Someone must be pulling the strings somewhere. But the wife is not comforted, as the criticisms have mounted since the first season’s nefarious activities: It’s everything about me, my address, the way I talk, my body,…that I had a Russian oligarch murdered! She bursts into tears: Some of the arsonists are wearing masks with my face on it with “Wicked Witch” T shirts. I have to go or I will go insane! In the next episode, she packs to leave, frustrating the stressed PM, who reacts angrily: The campaign of misinformation is extending to my own family! when his party’s right-wing candidate in a special election accuses the Home Secretary “of serving Soros and his like”. (8/22/2022))

Israeli TV Series in U.S.
The New Black (Shababnikim) - Season 2 on Chai Flicks (preview of first three episodes at 2022 Israel Film Center Festival) I had to catch up to figure out who’s who and what. This is a very funny sitcom about three slacker Haredi/Ultra Orthodox guys in Jerusalem and their devout accidental friend, variously looking to avoid military service, get rich, and/or married, with continuing matchmaking adventures. The women in general are heads and shoulders above them in smarts and ability to bridge the secular and religious worlds. While most of the articles I Googled about Season 1 focus on the guys, JHV and Times of Israel, among a few others, provided some background on the “strong” female characters: “Devorah” (played by Maya Wertheimer, who also happens to be married to Israel’s Consul General in NYC), a sister of “Dov Laser” (Omer Perelman Striks of The Swimmer (HaSahyan), who is dorm-living, smart, and studious, continues into Season 2 as the love interest of “Gedaliah” (Ori Laizerouvich) because she was impressed that he had no idea what is porn (such that he mispronounces the word), and whose roommates include an obsessively religious young woman; the secular architect/waitress “Shira” (Shira Naor), who was only in Season 1 as “Avinoam Lasri” (Daniel Gad)’s love interest; and “Ruth Gottlieb” (Shelly Ben-Yosef), the love interest of “Meir Sabag” (Israel Atias), though she is cruelly and quickly dispensed with in Season 2 in order to satirically comment on her parents who are ethnic and class snobs.

2021/2022 Season

At the end of the season, The Jewish Museum announced the opening of an installation: “It's wedding season, time to say “I do!” Bringing together excerpts from television programs from 1974 to 2020, “Breaking the Glass: Jewish Weddings on Television” illustrates the range of television depictions of this important event…such as Rhoda, Will & Grace, The Nanny, New Girl,, and Unorthodox, among others, that illustrate the depth and the range of television depictions of this important life-cycle event…A Jewish wedding shares many aspects with weddings of other cultures, but has elements that are uniquely Jewish. To signify that a wedding is Jewish certain practices are shown, including the ceremony taking place under a chuppah, or a wedding canopy, and the breaking of a glass after the rite concludes.”
The promotion is accompanied by a NBC photo from Will and Grace, duly noted as coming from Season 5, the 100th episode “Marry Me A Little, Marry Me A Little More”, that implies the titular characters are the bride and groom.

My Unorthodox Life - (“reality” series on Netflix; renewed for Season 2) Follows Julia Haart since she left the Ultra-Orthodox community in Monsey, Monsey, NY.

Grace and Frankie – in the 7th final season (shown in two parts on Netflix) – I need to catch up and watch the entire series.

Better Things – in the 5th season (on FX) Adlon accompanies this episode with an Apple podcast, that I haven’t had a chance to listen to. The first episode of the final season, “Fuck Anatoly’s Mom”, written and directed by star and creator Pamela Adlon, satirizes the Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates show that she participated in. (More on that when I get a chance.) Her brother “Marion” (played by Kevin Pollak) submitted his DNA for genealogical analysis. He is 50% Ashkenazi Jewish, as they expected, but they hadn’t known that their grandfather “Harry Fox” was originally from Ukraine. When the unctuous “Dr. Liddy Cables” (Carl W. Crudup) asks Do you think any of your family made it out from under Hitler’s rule?, she guesses no. But he triumphantly shows them a photo of “Clara and her two beautiful daughters” who did survive the executions of Jews in their town – only to be turned in later as Jews by her Ukrainian husband’s mother – a tale taken straight from the PBS series, where a gentile husband had brought his Jewish family to his mother in another town for presumed protection when he was called up to serve in the military. (Hence the episode’s title.) The siblings are particularly struck that even the little girls didn’t survive. The revelations about the non-Jewish British side of the family also satirize findings on the PBS series. In the next episode, “Rip Taylor’s Cell Phone”, written by Joe Hortua and Ryan Raimann, she references what she learned to panic about an upcoming film shoot in Belarus, throwing in a couple of Yiddish words that she repeats throughout the season (shpilkes and shonda) and repeating as justification for quitting the period piece, somewhat inaccurately, what she said at the conclusion of the first: My people come from hard-working laborers and survivors!
In “The World Is Mean Right Now”, written by Ariel Leve and Ryan Raimann, “Sam” (Adlon) labors mightily over making borscht – but the only hint throughout the episode that this has any ethnic heritage association within her family is when the older daughter asks: Is this Russian borscht or Ukrainian borscht?, with resonance more to contemporary politics. Her mother replies: It’s the delicious version. Tell me that’s not the best thing you’ve ever tasted? The middle daughter asks: Does borscht have a lot of calories? Mom rants: Do u know how many hours this took me to make?...Don’t freak out when you pee tomorrow- remember you had borscht/ But she has a flashback to her father being sarcastic to her, like her daughters. In “Jesus Saves”, written by R. Eric Thomas, Cree Summer and Joe Hortua, the family participates in a Zoom funeral for “Uncle Harold”, organized by “Cousin Estelle” (I can’t find the actress) and officiated by a heard-not-seen male rabbi, “Sam” describes it as “Jewish Hollywood Squares”. Her British mother (her family is about to get British citizenship) warns her granddaughters: All the women are so fat on your father’s side. Watch out girls., quite worrying them. Her brother has a neon Jewish star lit behind him, and makes a point of sharing his memories of Harold’s advice – that “Sam” hasn’t followed. He also calls to criticize her: Stop shouting! With all your pointing and your gesturing, I can tell you’re shouting even though you’re muted. You’re like all the others at the Hebrew Home for the Aged. “Sam” protests: No I’m not! Later she’s exhausted from preparing to go overseas: Packing shpilkes is real! (updated 4/24/2022)

Ridley Road (on PBS) – British import on Masterpiece Theatre - with the introduction “Inspired by True Events”, series creator, writer and executive producer Sarah Solemani adapted the novel by Jo Bloom. What makes this different from usually WW2-set comparable mini-series is that this takes place in 1962, “Vivian Epstein” (in a terrific debut performance by Agnes O'Casey) goes undercover on her own initiative with dyed blonde hair inside the headquarters of a dangerous British Fascist organization (a real one, yes in 1962 in London), first to follow her disappeared Jewish boyfriend “Jack Morris” (played by Tom Varey), who can “pass” with the group, and is mentored by her aunt “Nancy Malinovsky” (played by Tracy-Ann Oberman).
Having just read Bloom’s 2014 novel, I am even more impressed by Solemani’s achievement. Though the book was inspired by considerable research into the too-little now remembered anti-fascist “62 Group”, including a bibliography, the Jewish women are just girlfriends and wives, albeit a few working at a beauty salon. While Solemani’s “Vivian” goes a bit over-the-top as a Mata Hari spy with the fascists, Bloom’s (here) orphaned girlfriend has more Jewish identity, but she just keeps her undercover lover grounded, and inadvertently leads a spurned admirer to reveal his status. (updated 7/10/2022)

Vienna Blood – 2nd season (on PBS) Based on the mystery novels by Frank Tannis that I haven’t read, the British Jewish Liebermann family is adjusting to their Freudian son/brother “Max” (Matthew Beard) opening a controversial private practice in Vienna. But his mother “Rachel” (Amelia Bullmore) and sister “Leah” (Charlene McKenna) are very supportive. In “The Melancholy Countess”, written by Steve Thompson, his mother selects and hangs drapes for his new office, despite his father “Mendel”s (Conleth Hill) objections to the high rent. His sister brings a friend as a patient, and encourages him despite his titular patient dying and getting his name scandalously in the press: You’re a gifted doctor! You saved my son – remember that. They are leery, but still supportive when he brings a young girl home to recover, he thinks, from the shock of witnessing a brutal murder, and are kind to her.
His former fiancée “Clara Weiss” (played by German actress Luise von Finckh, I nher first English-language role) is still a friend of his family, who wish her “Mazel Tov” on her engagement to a Jewish banker: He adores me, has done for years. What happened between you and me is in the past now. You don’t have the right to ask if I’m happy. But I do want you to be happy and it would be so much easier for the rest of us. She visits him at his new office: I could have been the wife of a successful doctor. “Max”: Now you will be the wife of a successful banker. She: You say that like they are interchangeable. It must be uncomfortable for you to see me alone. “Max”: I hoped we could be friends. With the theme in the “Darkness” episodes of the rising antisemitism in Vienna, she asks him to help her future brother-in-law, who has been falsely arrested for the murder of a fanatically anti-Jewish priest, and the arrest is hurting the finances of their family bank. “Max”: I do owe you Clara, perhaps this is how I can atone. But both his mother and sister insist he needs to do more to help her. (2/8/2022)

Hallmark Channel’s holiday movie, as part if its popular annual “Countdown to Christmas” holiday movie schedule, was Eight Gifts of Hanukkah, written by Donald Martin and Karen Berger, from a story by Martin, and shown during the eight days. I thought I had lost my recording, so haven’t watch it yet, so here’s the press release description: “On the first night of Hanukkah, optometrist Sara Levin ([Israeli actress Inbar] Lavi) receives a gift from an anonymous suitor. The note offers clues to the giver’s identity and suggests that the coming week will reveal whether their relationship will bloom in time to celebrate the eighth night of Hanukkah together. Recently having re-entered the dating world, Sara must figure out which of her last few online and real-life dates is her admirer. A new gift arrives each day, offering more clues but even more questions. Rising to the challenge, Sara plays by the rules and is clever with her sleuthing. While planning the Hanukkah fundraiser ball, lighting the menorah, making latkes and spinning the dreidel, Sara discovers that her one true love could be someone she never expected.” (1/12/2022)

Gossip (On Showtime) – The now nonagenarian Cindy Adams (née Sugar, daughter of a single-minded mother who made her over) is the star of this 4-part docu-series on the highly competitive tabloid gossip writers in NYC. She is the focus in this surprisingly in-depth look at the fortuitous rise of her aggressive career and unique survival, especially within the Murdoch Media Empire of The New York Post, TV’s Current Affair, etc. (The tabloid-like newspaper look throughout the episodes earned the series an Emmy nominated for “Outstanding Graphic Design and Art Design”). Uniquely among the columnists interviewed, her interviews flaunt her New York Jewishness, throwing in plenty of Yiddishisms and pushy brassiness, let alone her catch phrase: “Only in New York, kids, only in New York." For example, when questioned about her friendships with the rich elite and authoritarians, including helping Trump’s image, like with the fallen Shah of Iran, she noted “It’s not like I’m invited to his Passover Seder.” Touchingly, she talks about her husband Joey Adams the same age as her mother, when they were both in frail health at the same time, who were her only family, and still resenting a woman at a party who disparaged her for “schlepping him around all the time". (8/2/2022)

Call The Midwife (On PBS) – In its 11th season, set in Summer 1967, in the 4th episode, written by Lena Rae, there is again a Jewish couple who are still living with the impact of the Holocaust – “Orli Rosen” (played by Alexis Peterman) is due to give birth, while her furrier husband “Samuel” (played by Alex Waldmann) has a lung condition and, in effect, is having PTSD from the physical and emotional harm he suffered in the concentration camp. He corrects his wife’s description: Extermination camp. No-one was meant to come out of Auschwitz alive…There was a... strange smell in the air when we arrived. A sickly, foul smell. We'd had a hideous journey. We were dirty and tired. The officer who met us off the train promised us showers. But... some were sent to the left... and some to the right. I was almost 13, but I looked older. I was sent to the right... with my father. My little brother and mother... sent to the left... to the showers. That were not showers. It was a gas chamber. And afterwards... I saw the smoke... and... smelt them... burning. That was day one.
Here's the WTTW recap, “Sam”: “bursts into the room while Orli is in labor, fearing that the nurses are hurting her with their tools. After the birth of his son, his chest clears up, but he can’t sleep and wears a winter coat everywhere despite the heat. He’s afraid he’ll have to leave in a hurry; his family was too slow to escape the concentration camps. His mother and brother were gassed upon arrival at the camp. He is so fearful that he objects to Orli’s suggestion that they give their son a Hebrew name, and doesn’t want people to know about the bris, or circumcision ceremony, for his son. He does ask Orli’s grandfather to hold his son during the ceremony, [sandek] an honor to him…Sister Hilda attends the gathering for the circumcision of the Rosen son. [“Orli”:I want to give him a Hebrew name, to honour Sammy's father. He was Eliyahu. That's Elijah in English. “Sam”: What is wrong with an English name? George? Henry? Does everybody need to know he is Jewish everywhere he goes?] Hilda finds Sammy avoiding the gathering in his fur workshop, and he admits that he feels he doesn’t belong there, cut off as he is from his heritage. He never had a bar mitzvah, although he learned his Torah portion in the concentration camp. The rabbi who taught him there was killed at the same time as his father. Because of his cough, he worries that he himself is ill, but he desperately wants to be there for his son as he grows up. Dr. Turner is still stumped by Sammy’s breathing problem, but a hospital specialist eventually discovers it is caused by his work with fur. The condition is treatable, but Sammy must stop working directly with fur. Luckily, Orli’s grandfather has always promised to make Sammy a manager, so he will still have a job…Sister Hilda suggests that he might also try to move forward by finally having the bar mitzvah he couldn’t complete. He happily agrees. After the ceremony, he gives Hilda a small square of fine fox fur.” (that she had admired). The bar mitzvah is held at a traditional Orthodox synagogue, with only the men downstairs with the Torah. (updated 4/24/2022)

Blue Bloods (On CBS) In this NYC-set series that rarely has Jewish characters, the season premiere “Hate is Hate”, written by Siobhan Byrne O'Connor, took a page from L & O, by re-visiting the terrible 1994 shooting that resulted in the death of Aaron Halberstam, whose name memorializes the site near the Brooklyn Bridge as “The Ari Halberstam Memorial Ramp”. While in the episode this is an act of road rage by a man with multiple arrests and mental health problems, Ari’s mother “Devorah” lobbied for years to have the real murder by a Muslim declared an act of terrorism. In this fictionalized version of a man firing at teen boys in a yeshiva school bus, the wounded boy’s mother “Naomi Chesnick” (played by Jenn Gambatese), not looking like an Orthodox woman, is in the hospital waiting room with “Police Commissioner Frank Reagan” (Tom Selleck): Eli - just a boy. 15! A good boy. Just a boy riding the bus. The case becomes a political football with “Mayor Peter Chase” (played by Dylan Walsh) about hate crimes targeting Jews, one of many sore points between him and the Commissioner. The Commissioner returns to the hospital for an update, sees the mother deep in prayer, holding her son’s hand on his hospital bed; the Irish Catholic crosses himself and quietly backs out.
In “Old Friends”, written by Ian Biederman, the family dinner conversation turns to confessions of first kisses. and the youngest sibling, now-married “Jamie Reagan” (played by Will Estes) admits to “Laurie Kaplan”. His older sister “Erin” (Bridget Moynahan) reacts: Get out of town! You made out with the rabbi’s daughter? “Jamie” explains: When he found out I wasn’t Jewish he chased me out of the house with a baseball bat. The family all laughs. (updated 1/10/2022)

American Crime Story: Impeachment (On FX) Season 3 of executive producer Ryan Murphy’s anthology series adapts Jeffrey Toobin’s book A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President, that I haven’t read. Monica Lewinsky is played by Beanie Feldstein – both are Jewish and grew up in West Los Angeles, and consulted together on her portrayal; both are credited as producers. This background comes up in the 2nd episode “The President Kissed Me”, written by executive producer Sarah Burgess, as “Monica” gets chummier with “Linda Tripp” (played with substantial make-up and costuming to be unrecognizable by Sarah Paulson). “Monica” had mentioned that she was living in the Watergate Hotel temporarily with her mother, and then wanted her work chum to meet her. “Linda” protests that because Mrs. Lewinsky is from Beverly Hills: I’ll need to go shopping. And let me at least start Weight Watchers. “Monica” is supportive: She knows you’ve made my work here at the Pentagon bearable. Later, “President Bill Clinton” (as played by Clive Owen) flirts: What kind of name is Lewinsky anyway? Enraptured “Monica”: Jewish - and then they kiss. (Yuck) She’s all excited to be attending an inaugural ball and can’t wait to show “Linda” The dress- I could never afford it on my salary, but my mother bought it for me.
In the next episode “Not To Be Believed”, also written by Burgess, the 1997 Supreme Court decision in Clinton v. Jones comes down. “Susan Carpenter-McMillan” (the almost satirical Judith Light), the GOP “pro-life feminist” advisor/manipulator of assault accuser Paula Jones, exults over the unanimous decision that allows the case to proceed: We even got the little Jewish lady. President Clinton words his reaction more carefully: Even Ruth!
In “The Telephone Hour” episode, written by Flora Birnbaum, that starts in August 1997, “Tripp” calls her book agent “Lucianne Steinberger Goldberg” (played by Margo Martindale, with no Jewish identification I could decipher) to tell her about Monica, but claims she’s not like the other, lower class accusers against Clinton: Monica is different – she’s from Beverly Hills, a very privileged upbringing. She knew what she was getting into. She’s no victim. “Goldberg” advises her to tape her friend’s phone calls, claiming that’s legal – it was in NY where she lived, though not in Maryland where Linda did. When “Bill” himself finally calls “Monica” back, he chastises her for an angry call to his secretary Betty Currie: She didn’t come up here from the Jim Crowe South to be talked to like that…You said you were a good girl…I would never have gotten involved with you. “Monica” admits to “Linda: I owe Betty an apology- I was a nightmare! She invites “Linda” over to pick an outfit from her closet full of designer clothes she identifies by brand – and out comes the notorious dirty blue dress with semen stains, expressing surprise that women would take clothes to the cleaners frequently. As “Linda” is seen taping all their many and long phone conversations, “Monica” goes on in detail about her romantic and sexual experiences with older men since high school, including a married man: Every guy I liked didn’t like me back. Each one she got similarly obsessed with - a sad pattern I hadn’t been aware of from all the coverage then and since. But I was also taken aback that “The Big Creep” as “Monica” calls “Bill” when she’s upset, did get a job interview with “Vernon Jordan” (played by Blair Underwood), which leads to job interviews with Revlon and the United Nations in New York.
”Do You Hear What I Hear?”, written by Halley Feiffer and directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (known for her film work, including The Mustang), was one of the more startling evocations of “Jews vs. Gentiles” than usually seen in TV series. Set in December in 1997 Washington, D.C., the episode is set up by “Monica” at a bar telling young “Jake Tapper” (Chris Riggi), who in real life later derided her physical appearance, that she now feels like “A DC Zombie” and realizes she’s been “myopic” this year. At work, “Linda” is preparing for her Christmas party and is somewhat apologetic to “Monica”: I go crazy for Christmas. I know it may not be your thing. “Monica”: Please we’re L.A. Jews. I’ve been going to Christmas parties since before I was born. When “Linda” is pressured by her book agent to assure that “Monica” not clean the evidence on “The Blue Dress” in preparation for the Revlon job interview arranged by “Vernon Jordan”, she plays on “Monica”s insecurities: The truth is you look heavy in that dress. “Linda” finally consults her own lawyer and discovers that her “ literary agent Lucianne Goldberg” was in error about the legality of taping her conversations in Maryland and has made her subject to felony arrest. “Goldberg” is blithe about assuming everyone wants to be in NY. While “Linda” decorates her tree with her children and then goes on about her family roots in Germany and their traditional Christmas celebration, “Monica” is alone, especially in her darkened apartment. Meanwhile, a couple representing themselves as working for the attorneys of Paula Jones go to Van Buren, Arkansas to the house of “Juanita Broaddrick” (Ashlie Atkinson), ask if she is a Christian, like all the people helping Jones and that they’ve been praying for someone like her to help the case, really laying the religious stuff on thick in order to get her to confirm Bill Clinton’s behavior towards her, too. She doesn’t deny it.
”Man Handled”, written by Sarah Burgess, takes place on January 1998, has a series of insulting digs at “Monica”. The legal henchmen with the Office of Ken Starr’s Special Counsel, call their plan to isolate and manipulate her “Operation Prom Night – a half hour with a girl in a hotel room”. The hotel is adjacent to a mall; during her eleven+ hour ordeal she takes the agents (she thinks they are FBI, but that’s just part of their bamboozlement) into Crate & Barrel, and she’s randomly looking at items, but even shopping sets off her tears: My grandma has crap like this all over her house. My grandma’s gonna be so disappointed in me. Meanwhile, lawyers saying they represent Paula Jones, come to “Linda Tripp” for specifics about “Monica”. As her revenge comes to fruition, “Linda” rambles about her supposed friend and compares her with Clinton to all the Republicans she instead admires,a couple of whom gave her a job in the White House: She’s entitled- it’s how she was raised. I have to accept that…Bill Clinton got to the Oval Office, saw the first vulnerable girl. and made her suck his dick. The lawyers are startled, even as other GOP schemers (including Big Talker “Anne Coulter”, as played by Cobie Smulders) listening to copies of the tapes of the two women’s conversations are just bored. While the Starr crowd bullies “Monica” into not communicating with the lawyer “Vernon Jordan” referred for her, they’re not able to keep her from seeing her mother “Marcia Lewis” (played by Mira Sorvino) who has to get to D.C. from NYC, and is much more able to stand up to the horde of henchmen to call her ex-husband, “Monica”’s father, “Bernard” (played by Rob Brownstein), a successful radiation oncologist, who immediately contacts his lawyer, though his daughter questions: Your malpractice lawyer? (“William Ginsburg” played by Fred Melamed). But this family attorney does give her good legal advice to shut up and not agree to cooperate with their plan for her to place monitored calls to Clinton and his secretary “Betty” without written confirmation of immunity which they claim they can’t give, and more so, profanely rants against the prosecutors to get her and her mother out of that suffocating hotel room. Thus, the contrast between the loud, pushy, materialistic, and crude Jews vs. the Christians continues.
In “The Assassination of Monica Lewinsky” episode, written by Sarah Burgess and Flora Birnbaum, it’s January 1998, her lawyer explodes: They threatened to investigate your entire family!…They’re the fucking Gestapo in there! They’re crazy! At her mother’s apartment at the Watergate, “Monica” watches the horrible news coverage play out: They’ll believe - there am I waiting for him like a big fat fucking stalker! She cries as people from her past each get their 15 minutes of fame on TV, including “Linda Tripp”s tapes playing: I grew up in a house of lies. Her mother moves to turn off the TV: I can’t listen to these lies about my daughter. “Monica” stops her: It’s all true…The TV is my only source of news. Her mother puts “Monica”s make-up on for her meeting with the prosecutors, while regretting that she can’t accompany her daughter. Her lawyer negotiates a deal for immunity, that she signs. But he then goes on TV complaining about the prosecutors, and supposedly that’s why “Starr” (played by Dan Bakkedahl) rejects the deal. “Clinton” keeps labelling her “troubled” and “from a broken home”, in his deposition and to his staff.
Since 2014, in addition to magazine essays, TV appearances, and a “Ted Talk” related to cyber-bullying, Lewinsky produced a documentary 15 Minutes of Shame (on HBO Max, released while the fictionalized series was being broadcast) that builds off her excruciating experience from the infamous “Ken Starr report”, starting and ending with her warning: “Imagine waking up one morning with the whole world suddenly knowing your name, and talking about you. Not because you cured a disease, or saved your neighbor’s house from burning down. Everyone knows who you are, because your mistake, our secret, has now been made public. Trust me, I know a little something about this.” With clips of the press assault on her. Then segues into her talk, and a defense on Late Night with John Oliver, that she was only 22. As flashily directed by MTV’s Catfish co-creator Max Joseph, with fast insert montages of clips, drawings, paintings, headlines, tweets, and other social media posts, she narrates: “I was Patient Zero of having a reputation completely destroyed worldwide because of the Internet. And I would not be the last…I saw it become a breeding ground for outrage. And ridicule…Our culture was drowning in something.” Game of Thrones clip echoes the chant Shame!. Lewinsky continues: “And I wanted to understand why…Together we decided to get to the bottom of this Renaissance of Public Shaming.” But for all the talking head experts in psychology, media, activism, technology, and gender and racial intersectionality, not one cites anti-Semitism, not in how Lewinsky was treated and not in general. Even in the clip of the notorious 2017 “Unite the Right” Rally in Charlottesville, VA, the white supremacist chant heard by the Tiki Torch-holding Neo-Nazis is “You will not replace us!” though they actually were mostly saying “Jews. Will. Not. Replace. Us.” (updated 10/28/2021)

2020/2021 Season

Lenox Hill (Netflix) Though co-directed by Ruthie Shatz, this is yet another medical reality mini-series, let alone set in NYC, that doesn’t seem to find any Jewish women medical professionals.

Molly Tolsky, in Hey Alma, 12/18/2020, raises a good point in “I’m Begging You to Watch This Fran Drescher Christmas Movie”: should the Queens actress be presumed to be playing a Jewish character in Lifetime’s gay romance in the Midwest, written by Michael J. Murry, just because of her persona and drops one Yiddish word?

Younger – Lauren Heller and mother in the 7th season (on Paramount+, then TV Land) The viewer this final season would have no way to know that “Lauren” (played by Molly Bernard) is Jewish as there were no references. In the opening episode “A Decent Proposal”, written by executive producer Darren Star, her mother “Denise” (played by Kathy Najimy) plans her “Little Women in Space”-themed 30th birthday party and serves as the comic M.C., with a stand-up routine about her very difficult birth, that verges on Jewish mother stereotypes as she points to a her remembered pregnancy: I knew that my Lauren would be anything but normal…Wasn’t she worth all the pain? The old-fashioned stereotypes surprisingly continued through the series’ conclusion, in “Make No Mustique” written by producers Dottie Dartland Zicklin & Eric Zicklin, her father has a heart attack after a display of drunken exhibitionism at her friend’s housewarming. Her mother is tearful in the hospital waiting room: Your father is never going to get to be a grandfather, or walk you down the aisle. “Lauren”: Not every conversation can be about me not being umarried…I’m only 30! Mom: I just want you to have someone by your side for life, like I have with your father…Your life is like musical chairs…when the music stops I want you to have someone to put your butt with. Father is recovering: The doctor saved my life. I think he’s cute, others may be more picky. Turns out it’s “Dr. Max Horowitz” (played by Ben Rappaport) from Season 4. They exchange pleasantries about catching up, and he leaves. Mom: You didn’t thank him for saving your father. Dad suggests a date. “Lauren”: You know I’m not into guys at the moment? Mom: I thought you weren’t picking? “Lauren”: I know you both would like if I married a nice Jewish doctor but the bottom line is I’m just…I’m just not that attracted to Max. Mom: I wasn’t that attracted to your father when we first met, he kinda grew on me. “Lauren”: I told you we tried, Max and I tried. Mom: The universe wants you to try again. The man saved your father’s life. What kind of sign do you want? Dad: Listen to your mother/ Later, “Lauren” initiates quite an extensive array of sex all over his apartment with “Max” – turns out to be just her dream, though some recappers thought it was real.
The series finale “Older”, written by Darren Star, “Lauren” thinks this all adds up: to hearing what the universe is saying. What more signs do you need?...There are no accidents. She pulls off a company anniversary party: I’m so proud of us. This feels like my bat mitzvah all over again! Do you believe it’s been 100 years? She brings her mother as a date: I really wanted to invite Max, even though he doesn’t know we’re back together yet, even though astrally he gave me the most amazing head. Mother: Honey, get out of your head and call the man. “Lauren”: I first want to find the most romantic spot for a reunion…My generation’s. Mom suggests some place whose connection I didn’t get, but “Lauren” gets a text from “Max” to meet him in the hospital cafeteria. She worries about the company party, but her Mother assures her: Love can’t wait, Sweetheart. She runs out callig back: Mak sure the DJ keeps the energy up! She runs in as he has gotten her English Breakfast and two Splendas, right? I remember everything about our time together. She: Max, I have not stopped thinking about you since you saved my brother’s life. He: Nothing a first year resident couldn’t have done. She: I think it’s the universe’s way of bringing us together. He: Lauren, there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t thought about you. At first, because I was hurt. But then I thought about how authentically you live your life. And whenever I had an issue, I thought WWLD. She smiles: What Would Lauren Do? She nods and gets teary. He: Lauren would trust her real, honest feelings and would never question anything that stretched the capacity of the human heart. That’s why I’m so happy we found each other again. I have been dying to introduce you to my fiancé. And we see a Black man come up behind her, and he kisses “Max”: I’ve heard so much about you! But I never imagined petite. I thought you’d be a little more, you now. “Max”: Zaftig? They laugh. She: I’m Shelley Winters on the inside. More laughing. The new guy “Greg” (played by Glenn Fleary): I’ve had my eye no this guy for year. So I want to thank you for encouraging this guy to be exactly who he is. She: I’m kvelling! Gay men are really the only guys I can get behind. I would be more than open to get behind both of you. Are you open? I’m not kidding. WWLD- with a come hither look. She tells her girl friends about this new arrangement with two guys: I’m free and I’m happily non-hetereonormative.
This last season “Lauren” filled in for the honeymooning promotions chief, so comes to work in her version of power suits, albeit very short. In the episode “Risky Business”, written by Alison Brown, she comes home complaining: I went too big with my brooch and poked someone on the train and got called the C word! Her roommate/friend/editor co-worker “Kelsey Peters” (played by Hilary Duff) asks: Why are you dressed like a drag queen?, seems like an in-joke, what with this 5/20/2021 interview “Lauren was a role which helped Barnard to embrace her own queer identity:.. “I’ve always been in love with RuPaul’s Drag Race. The lip syncs often move me to tears. The passion, the celebration, the liberation. I love when we get to know some of the queens’ histories and their backgrounds, and what they’ve overcome and who they are. My favorite winners have always been the full fucking freaks! I love that it’s just like, let your freak flag fly, go forth and win girl! That show is the light. I love it. .. I’m also very proud of Younger—and when I say Younger I mean the writers’ room and creator Darren Star—for the way they showed her family. If you’ve noticed, Lauren is the only character with parents, and she’s a queer millennial, and her parents completely support her and her sexuality. They don’t care what she is, they’re proud of their daughter and they love her, and I think that’s intentional on the writers’ part. I actually think Younger is a bit sneaky in that it’s a teaching show as well as a wonderful, edible 22-minute comedy. I think we were ahead of the times in that way and may this be the new normal of queer representation. I’ve been so proud to play a queer person who is out and proud, and she’s not suffering, those stories obviously are extremely important also, but the fact that she is just herself and does not have consequences to deal with related to her sexuality is amazing. I think stories like that should be told more because Lauren is aspirational. I’ve been really lucky to play an aspirational queer person for seven years.” (updated 10/29/2021)

Riviera (on Ovation this season) – In the non-premium cable re-running of the 2nd season of the glossy soap opera with the cinematic pedigree and cast, art historian curator/presumed widow of wealthy older husband/and murderer of his younger, abusive son “Georgina Clios” (Julia Stiles) is asked a favor by her new lover pilot “Noah Lévy” (Grégory Fitoussi). In the episode “Renaissance”, written by Steve Bailie, he takes her to the house in Paris where he commissioned Stolpersteine in the sidewalk to commemorate his grandmother and grandfather:
She’s knowledgeable enough to say: I’ve never seen these outside of Berlin! He shows her a photograph of his grandmother and grandfather in their living room, in front of their missing Vermeer painting that he wants her to help find (a familiar trope of dead Jewish women on TV series), which she agrees to pursue. Easily solved in the next episode, “Sad Birthday”, by Bailie. “Georgina” finds the holder of a hidden collection of a Vichy-sympathizing art dealer (modeled on the real Hildebrand Gurlitt) – who just happens to have been the father of the wealthy woman who has kidnapped “Georgina”s thought-to-be-dead husband! In “On the Ruins of our Dreams”, written by Liz Lake, “Noah Lévy” admits he is a married imposter. But he was honoring the memory of his dead pal in the Israeli Army, whose female cousin in Canada will benefit from the find. And the Jews leave the season. (updated 7/17/2021)

The Alienist: Angel of Darkness – Bitsy Sussman (on TNT) I didn’t know that Caleb Carr had written a follow-up, that serves as the basis for Season 2 (or that he went on to develop Kreizler series of historical mystery novels), so I’ve only just downloaded it to see if intrepid ground-breaking “Sara Howard” (played by Dakota Fanning) has at least the new Jewish assistant “Bitsy Sussman” (played by Melanie Field). The press release does not describe her as Jewish: “an industrious young protege at the Sara Howard Detective Agency who looks to Sara for professional guidance but who brings her own warmth and New York street smarts to the job.” I re-watched the 1st 2 episodes to figure why I right away assumed she was. Besides her probably ahistorical broad NY accent, for the late 19th century, but there was only actually one line, in the 2nd episode “Something Wicked”, written by Stuart Carolan: There’s a saying in Yiddish. ‘Mother’s hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.’, as they deal with a gruesome series of baby murders. I thought there’s another assistant named “Ida”, but I don’t have more information on her. . (7/31/2020)

Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (on PBS) In “Fashion’s Roots” (labeled S6 Ep11), Diane Von Fürstenberg (born Diane Simone Michelle Halfin) talks about her mother’s Holocaust experience, but Prof. Gates’s research team found what happened to her father’s mother, who had the foresight to advise her son not to come home to Kishinev, Bessarabia (now in Moldova).
Scarlett Johansson’s family story was originally included in “Immigrant Nation” (S4 Ep5), and was repeated this season in “Flight” (S6 Ep 14), when I paid more attention to her Jewish maternal ancestry. She identified more with her father’s Danish heritage, including taking on Danish citizenship, so she knew very little about her mother’s family, other than that her immigrant grandfather was a grocer on Ludlow St. on the Lower East Side. But the program traced that while he left a town in Russia that is now in Poland in 1910, his brother Moshe did not, and he and his 10 children were rounded up by the Nazis into the Warsaw Ghetto. A surviving cousin Miriam Schlotna (the family’s original Yiddish name) reported to Yad VaShem that two of her siblings died there, including Zlota, age 15. Scarlett cried: “This makes me feel more connected to that side of my family – I didn’t expect that.” I wonder if she was curious about finding her cousin Miriam? (updated 11/19/2020)

The Good Fight – Marissa Gold in the 3rd season (on BET preview; originally shown on CBS All Access premium service in March 2019) As I’m resisting subscribing to another streaming service, I haven’t seen the 2nd season, nor what’s happening up through the just completed 5th season in2020, so I’m only commenting on the “free” episodes. “In The One Inspired by Roy Cohn”, written by, Michael Sheen plays the outrageous litigator“Roland Blum”, who gives a salute to the titular mentor of him and the 45th President. “Marissa” (played by Sara Steele) is assigned to watch him after liberal, traditionally more African-American slaw firm partner “Diane Lockhart” (Christine Baranski) caught him stealing case files. So “Marissa” is very sarcastic to him, and he rebuts: What’s your story? She tells an extravagant lie that concluded that she’s a former Russian mail order bride. “Blum”: Ah humor of the American Jewess in full flower.
In "The One Where Luca Becomes Meme", written by Jacquelyn Reingold, she demonstrates the political acumen she learned from her political consultant “Eli Gold” (who was played in the earlier iteration of the series by Alan Cumming) in advising African-American “Managing Partner Julius Cain” (played by Michael Boatman) on how to handle a recommendation to apply for a federal judgeship by a group of GOP conservatives described as “The Federalist Society 2.0”. [Wiki incorrectly says it’s for the state.] He’s hesitant: Aren't you one of those liberals? She: Sure, but my dad poisoned me. He made politics chess, so it was more important to win than to make life better. “Julius”: You’re a funny bird. But there’s repercussions for both of them. Into the office strides “Democratic National Committee head Frank Landau” (played by Mike Pniewski), and she presumes he’s here to see her boss – but he’s there for her: I spoke to your dad the other day. She: How's he doing? I can never get him to call me back. He: Well, elections are tough in Albania. She: Eli Gold, living in the birthplace of Mother Teresa. Go figure. “Landau: He asked me to give you a message. She: Is it "happy birthday"? Because he missed the last two. They arrive at her office, he: Is this glass soundproof? She: It is. Why? He yells and the whole office swivels to watch: What the fuck are you doing?! She: Yep, that sounds like Dad. He: What the fuck are you doing, working for the Historical Law Society?! She: I'm not working...Is this Dad now or you? He: They are responsible for 90% of the destructive judges in this country. She: I am not working for them. I'm consulting for a friend. He: A Republican friend. She: Why is that so bad? He: You know, if you want to get back at your dad, just get a fucking tattoo! She: Dad thinks I'm doing this to get back at him? Talk about self-centered. She: What other motive could you have to help an anti-choice Trump voter get on the federal bench?! She: Tell "Dad" while he's off helping some corrupt Albanian billionaire, I am helping a decent man become a good judge. Yes, he's Republican. But, news flash, they're the only ones getting through. If I have to choose between creepy, drunk frat boys and Julius Cain, I'm picking Julius. he: How much is Cain paying you? She: None of your business. Why? He: I'll bet you we pay more at the DNC. In case you ever want to come work for the good guys. She: I learned from the best, so I know you're full of shit. Just tell Dad to call me next time. Next time you want to make a point, slam the door! To herself she adds: That was actually pretty bitchin'. But this is an issue for “Cain” too, at his next interview with the ironically named “Brock Peters” (played by David Christopher Wells): We gave you five résumés for consultants. You didn't like them?... You're a wonderful candidate, Julius, so I hope you take this in the right spirit. You won't make it with Eli Gold's daughter as your advisor. “Julius”: Well, she doesn't affect my beliefs. “Brock”: Her father's an assassin for the other side. “Julius”: But she isn't. “Brock”: Well, she's guaranteed to talk to him. I'm sorry, Julius, but you need to let her go. And if I don't? Well, our biggest fear is putting someone on the court and having them flip on us, so, this is not a small thing. Think about it. Let us know. “Julius” lies to “Marissa” – and while he makes a passionate case to “Brock” for “loyalty”, that we know the party and its presidentvalue, he is eliminated from consideration. Meanwhile the firm is in an uproar about apparent discrepancies between pay to black and white associates; a key complaint is that “Marissa” got a raise, with the justification that the associates are using her services more. But the Black associates claim that it’s the white lawyers going to her, while the Blacks go to “Jay Dipersia” (played by Nyambi Nyambi), who has been there several years more – and that the firm has been hiring more whites lately. (7/31/2020)

A Place To Call Home (2nd , 3rd and 4th seasons on PBS; 2nd & 3rd seasons also once a week daytime on Ovation) Created by Bevan Lee, this Australian series was began broadcasting on the 7 Network in 2013 and all 6 seasons are streaming via Acorn TV – if PBS/Ovation doesn’t carry them all, I may have to break down and subscribe. The first episode of the season, “No Secrets, Ever”, written by Trent Atkinson, is a surprise fast-forward 60 years, where “Sarah” is living in the big house, Ash Park, taken care of by the now recovered from TB “Leah Goldberg” (now played by Anna Volska). “George”s granddaughter interviews her about hidden family history. “Sarah” flashes back to the grim memory of efficiently disposing of the body of an abusive, bullying father-figure, killed by a young, protective son, and insisting to witness “Roy Briggs”: We saved more lives from being ruined.
After a nightmare flashback, in the 2nd episode “I Believe”, written by Tony Morphett, “Sarah” assures the boy now leaving town with his family: You were protecting your mum. You did nothing wrong. She assures “Roy” she’s as haunted as he is: It’s brought up things for me too . I was in the Resistance. I shot a wounded friend. It was that or leave her to be tortured by the Gestapo. before they killed her anyway. If the right outweighs the wrong, no matter how wrong... Surprisingly, and quite movingly, she recites Kaddish, and he prays along side her, at the spot where they sunk the body. However, “George”s scheming mother and sister-in-law “Regina” have hired investigators in London, Paris, and Berlin to check on her past: One thing you can say about the Nazis they kept good records.
In the 3rd episode, “A Kiss to Build A Dream On”, written by Rick Held, “Sarah” tells first her “Aunt Peg” (Judi Farr), the horrors she experienced – an aspect female survivors rarely admitted to and I’ve only seen in the autobiographical Czech film Colette: I did what I could, I killed who I had to, to shorten the war. Then I was caught. I was sent to a camp, Ravensbruck. You have to understand how deep my love was for Rene to understand what I did. All that mattered was to remain alive- to see him! Tearful “Aunt Peg”: No shame in surviving, love. “Sarah”, amidst visual flashbacks of a drunk Nazi on top of her on a cot under a swastika: But it’s how I survived. I used my body. They used it. “Aunt Peg” cries: You poor darling girl! “Sarah” determinedlycontinues: The women who resisted were shot. The rest of us were taken to a special barracks. Every day for over a year. “Aunt Peg”: Breaks my heart. I’m making it worse. I should be comforting you. You have nothing to be sorry for. There is no shame where there is no choice. “Sarah”: How can I marry without telling him? “Aunt Peg: What good would it do? You suffered so much. You deserve happiness and love , you both do. He’s a lovely man, but he is a man. Don’t spoil it.
But just as “Sarah” decides in the 4th episode not to tell “George”, in “What Your Heart Says”, written by Hamilton Budd, she gets thrust into a “Bligh” family crisis. When she learns his gay son is being subjected to electro-shock conversion therapy and confronts the stubborn doctor: I have every idea. I’ve had it done to me. I’ve survived barbarians like you. “George” is shocked and angry at her insistence: I will not be with a man who leaves his son to this... If you don’t take him out we’re finished. After the rescue, she takes “George” away outside to explain: You asked what happened during the war. It’s what came after that made me lose my mind. I survived but Rene ... when I did eventually make it home, no one knew if he was alive or dead. So I waited, for the phone to ring or on one of the trains that brought survivors back. The stations were full of people like me, searching faces, scarecrow faces. But he never came. The truth did finally, from a man who’d seen him die. And I heard their screams-- it was mine. I fell into this darkness. I woke in the hospital weeks later strapped to a bed with electricity burning through my brain, being tortured In the name of normalcy. I would have said anything to stop you leaving James to that. She tells him about her mother’s and his sister-in-law’s effort to expose her past: I’d hoped never to burden you with this, but they’ve forced my hand. My employment records were taken and with Nazs record keeping they’ll have the full story of what happened to me at Ravensbruck. To hear it from anyone else could be the end of us. It may be anyway. Meanwhile, his mother’s snooty friend “Prudence Swanson” (Heather Mitchell) joins in the conspiracy: You want my help in bringing down the Jewess. And nurse…She can be provoked to an outburst. The Jews can be so sensitive.
In 5th episode, “Ghosts of Christmas Past”, written by Brooke Wilson, “George” is trying to cope with her confession: I don't want to, but I keep seeing you. I can't keep these images out of my mind. “Sarah” protests: You can't imagine what it was like. “George”: I'm sure. But I see you... with all those men. “Sarah” piles on: There was no pleasure. There was only violence and horror. “George: I feel such anger. But I will come to terms with it. “Sarah” is quite concerned: But can you marry someone with that in their past? “George”: I can't let you go. “Sarah”: Don't come back until you're sure. This is too painful. She confidently confronts his mother, but she’s not prepared for more revelations.
In the next “Auld Lang Syne, written by series creator Bevan Lee, “George”s mother plots an upper class soiree for 1954 honors with hostess “Prudence”: I restore my social bona fides and you destroy the Jew's., because somehow they presume she’s “working class” because she works as a nurse. But “Sarah” again confronts his mother: Today is obviously designed to see me out of my depth…My husband was well connected in Parisian literary circles. Gide and Malraux were our friends. We mixed in all manner of society. If you spent less time fighting me and more time knowing me, you'd know there's nothing today that might throw me off kilter. “Sarah”, of course, is simply charming at the party, especially by fluently conversing with a Frenchmen, who could be some official. She even starts to win over her potential mother-in-law, who back home is very upset by what “Regina” has discovered, pronounding: You’ve won.
Next, in ”No Other Name” by Bevan Lee, “Regina” reveals that “Sarah”s husband Rene is alive; after being discovered brain damaged in a mental hospital, he’s now living with his sister in Paris. The news shocks everyone, but it’s clear the Australians have no idea about the difficulties and surprises in post-Holocaust losses and reunions.
In “Answer Me, My Love”, written by Trent Atkinson, “Sarah”s return to her old apartment brings back memories of their Gestapo arrest. Though she’d expressed distrust of her sister-in-law “Adele Duval” (Lucy Bell) to “Regina”, they greet with a shared hug of sadness. “Sarah” kneels in abject apology to her silent, blank-eyed husband “René Nordmann” (Benjamin Winspear): You must have thought I abandoned you. I looked for you a long time, but evidently not long enough. If you’re in there, my darling, I won’t give up on you again. As they cry and hold each other, her sister-in-law: It is now as I feared. You are tied to him...He is not as he was ....I give my permission for you to leave without him. But he wakes and says his wife’s name.
In the 3rd season, which was broadcast immediately after S2, “Sarah” brings her ailing husband to her rural Australian home, in “The Things We Do for Love”, written by David Hannam. Still with shrapnel in his head and confused by flashbacks to the war, “Regina” tells the local policeman he’s a Communist Jew – worse than the Nazis, some of them, and taunts “Sarah”: You’ve got your mad Jew back.
The 2nd episode is titled “L’Chaim, To Life”, written by Giula Sandler, “Regina” is sarcastic about “René”s suicide attempt: It would have been such symmetry if he finished what Hitler started.. Now pregnant by George, “Sarah” is beset by flashbacks of violent loss of a pregnancy in the camp brothel, with a Nazi kicking her and screaming “Jewish whore”, and nightmares of the future; she worries to the doctor that her pregnancy will fail because she is impure. How can anything good grow inside me? While she has flashbacks to the bare, secret candlelighting she shared with other women prisoners, she prepares her first Shabbat in their new home, with “Mrs. Goldberg”’s gift of challah, and “René” recalls his mother and her challah: I wanted it every day. She made it with raisins! Through the next several episodes of considering abortion, miscarriage, and stressful romantic triangle over the baby, there’s no Jewish references.
Surprise to me – PBS got the rights from Acorn TV for the 4th Season! In the opener “A Nagging Doubt”, written by Bevan Lee, “Police Sgt. Brian Taylor (played by Rohan Nichol), sneers at “Sarah” so she asks: Do you have a problem with me? He cites several suspicious behaviors, including: You’re a Communist.
In the season’s 2nd episode “Bad in A Good Way”, also written by Bevan Lee, “Sarah” confronts her nemesis “Regina”, now married to her ex-fiancee, who threatens her: In Europe I unearthed more than your darling René - quite the dossier. What you did to survive the camp. Then liberated by the Russians, that gave them a chance to recruit you. Then months in an asylum. All of which makes you a mad Commie whore. Which is exactly what I’ll tell the sergeant…I’ll tell how you survived the war by spreading your legs for the Wehrmacht! She does give him the file: It gives me leverage in silencing her. Then return it., and flames his anti-Communism and that “Sarah” is “mad”. “Sarah” fills in as a substitute teacher, after the death of “Regina”s accidental poisoning victim and little boy is pushed by his friends to ask her a question and she responds to each query: Is it true you are a Jew? I converted to marry a Jewish man. What does that mean? That I changed my religion. You can do that? Yes, you can. Wouldn’t that make God mad? I don’t think so. But the Jews killed Jesus right? The Romans did that. Not the Jews then? No. Then the Reverend was wrong? At night, she prays in Hebrew, explaining: Sometimes it helps me to feel He’s near. The segeant comes at night, and asks her about the guy, the abusive husband, who went “missing” last season: I’m betting on the Commie. “Sarah” stands up to him: I am .Jewish and I am left wing, and I’m proud of both. Get out and don’t come back unless you have an arrest warrant.
In “When You’re Smiling”, also by Lee, “Sarah” is told why she’s no longer allowed to teach, and responds to the other teacher: Reverend Graham said you favored conversion and said the Jews didn’t kill Jesus. They didn’t. The Romans preferred crucifixion. The Jews preferred stoning. The town gossip talks of her being accused of sacrilege. When the Doctor defends her, the Sergeant let’s her now she’s suspicious because You were with the Commies in Spain and spent time in an asylum.
Next in “Home to Roost” also written by Lee, “Regina” keeps trying to stir up antagonisms against “Sarah”: There are Reds amongst us and Jews have a long history as Communist sympathizers. She was let go by the school for blasphemy. When “George” strongly chastises her, she tearfully charges: You retreated into your infatuation with the Jew!
In “Happy Days Are Here Again”, again written by Bevan Lee, the Sergeant is still fuming: She told the kids they could turn Jew and how to convert. Half the Jew youth groups are Communist cells! Ask Reverend Green. “George” reprimands him: Rev. Green delivers a fine sermon, but his tolerance of other groups is another thing. Meanwhile, “Sarah” is plotting long-term against “George”s current wife, her nemesis, even as he’s renewed his request to marry afer his planned divorce: Three months isn’t that long - - takes me back to my Resistance days- never spring the ambush until it’s fully in place.
In “The Trouble With Harry”, also written by Bevan Lee, ”Regina” continues stoking up the policeman against “Sarah” with quite the description: The woman is a rabid Communist- the Petrov Commission has found proof of spy networks throughout the country....The creature has a history of mental illness, wartime connections to the Soviet military, she also fought for the Left in Spain...She’s not just a murderer, she’s an enemy of the nation.
In “You’re Just in Love”, also by Lee, “Sarah” wonders how far the suspicions have gone: Is it ASIO? [the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation]…I avoided the Gestapo all those years. I should be able to manage ASIO. Later she brings the doctor a wedding present with a card that notes: Sometimes at a Jewish wedding a plate is broken to show the seriousness of the commitment., and the box does contain a pretty, broken plate. In “There’ll be Some Changes Made”, written by Katherine Thompson, “Sarah” quotes the prohet Zachariah – but a Christian could do that, too.
In the inscrutably-named (at least to an American) “Where Will the Baby’s Dimple Be?”, written by Katherine Thompson, “Sarah” says a prayer, that I couldn’t distinguish, over her premature baby in an incubator. “Elizabeth Bligh” contravenes her wishes and lets the baby’s father “George” know of the birth of his illegitimate son, as both discuss that will be controversial, “George”: In some parts of the Jewish community as well. His mother: Must the child be Jewish? Her son: Apparently, yes, not that I have a say in that either. It’s all one-way street. Perhaps we should go our own ways.. Even as he compliments his anti-Semitic wife as invaluable to his legislative work in Canberra, “Sarah” is annoyed at his specifically unrequested hospital visit to her and the baby.
In “And the Blind Shall See”, written by Bevan Lee, she gives birth, names baby David Chaim, after her brother, and, oddly, lists her maiden name on his birth certificate and acknowledges “George Bligh”, not her late husband, as his father.
In “Catch The Tiger, written by Katherine Thomson, “Sarah” is very suspicious with a young stranger claiming to write for a Socialist newspaper and asks her about local party activities; she deflects him. “Regina” gets even more crazily anti-Semitic: The Blighs are all coo-cooing over the new Jew like the Three Wise Men without the myrrh! She insists to the policeman: All that matters is that the Jew killed the girl! Once “Regina” gets committed, “Sarah” says in Hebrew: This too is for the good. (updated 1/23/2021)

2019/2020 Season

Israeli TV series that I presume include Jewish women characters - Around January 2019, Netflix starting showing several popular Israeli TV series in the U.S., that I still haven’t yet caught up with: Fauda, When Heroes Fly, Shtisel, The Good Cop (Hashoter Hatov), Hostages (B’nei Arubah), and Mossad 101. I don’t subscribe to Hulu, though I wonder if I could get press access, which is carrying several Israeli TV series, including False Flag (Kfulim) and Juda. Amazon Prime is also streaming Israeli TV series in the U.S., though I haven’t watched them yet: The Beauty and the Baker (L’hiot Ita), Mekimi, Srugim, and A Touch Away. The Haredi-showcasing series Shababnikim is said to be available in the U.S. on less reliable sites, so far. (updated 12/23/2019)
Sara Stein – From Berlin to Tel Aviv - 4 German TV-movies in the series about a Jewish criminal investigator who emigrates to Israel, starring Katharina Lorenz, were released in the U.S. 6/4/2019 via Film Movement’s Omnibus Entertainment to iTunes, Amazon and Vudu, originally shown 2016 – 2017: Tod in Berlin (Shalom Berlin, Shalom Tel Aviv); Shiv’a (Jewels in the Grave); Masada; Alte Freunde (Old Friends), all directed by Matthias Tiefenbacher. I haven’t had a chance to watch them yet.
Muna- first two episodes, set in 2014, seen at 2019 Other Israel Film Festival - , produced through Yes Studios, though it wasn’t clear if the full season will be available in the U.S. on Netflix. Created by Mira Awad, the series features primarily Israeli Arab characters, centered around Muna Abud. Like Maysaloun Hamoud’s In Between (Bar Bahar) crossed with Tanya Saracho’s Latinas Vida The Jewish women characters seen so far are obnoxious: the titular character’s Jewish boyfriend’s ex-wife, a TV host who really rakes the titular photographer over the coals on her first guest appearance alongside a nasty religious Zionist woman, who are hypocritically nice off-camera. Kudos to the music! (11/17/2019)
Asylum City- tough, strong non-stereotyped Jewish Israeli women, surrounded by a range of men, figured prominently in the first two episodes, of the 12, produced through Yes Studios. Created by Eitan Tzur, Uzi Weil and Yad Shoham based on the novel by Liad Shoham, that I haven’t yet read, the tangled noir swirls around 32-year-old blonde “Michal Poleg” (Mali Levi), a determined refugee activist whose challenges against the government’s and organized crime’s authority doesn’t separate her personal and work livess, and “Chief Inspector Anat Seton” (Hani Furstenberg, of The Golem) on her first big case. Previeweds at 2019 Other Israel Film Festival, I look forward to seeing the rest of the series! (12/8/2019)
Israeli true crime docu-series streaming on Netflix: Shadow Of Truth, 4-episodes on the 2006 murder of Tair Rada, an Israeli high-school girl, and Coastal Road Killer, 4 episodes about murders from the 1970’s – 1980’s that began with the October 1974 murder of Rachel Heller, a female IDF solider. (Preview at 2019 DOC NYC Festival). Both series are by showrunners Yotam Guendelman, Mika Timor and Ari Pines.

Younger – Lauren Heller in the 6th season (on TV Land) The viewer this season would have no way to know that “Lauren” (played by Molly Bernard) is Jewish as there were no references. However, the redheaded PR/social media expert was visually fun! Kudos to costume designers Jacqueline Demeterio and Rosemary Lepre Forman!
From a 6/12/2019 interview Bernard “believes her character, Lauren, is one that TV has been needing for a long time. Lauren is a confident, successful, engaging woman who also happens to be pansexual. But her sexuality is not what defines her, Bernard says. Her storyline isn’t about a woman struggling with her sexuality, it’s simply a part of who she is. The reminders that Lauren is sexually fluid are intentionally very subtle because it’s only one aspect of her incredible person. Bernard says Lauren’s sexuality was something she and the writers discovered along the way. ‘It wasn’t something that I knew going into the pilot or even the first couple of episodes. Once it became clear that Lauren was this very vibrant pansexual being, it all dropped in and made sense. It’s not the story of a pansexual/bisexual woman who’s struggling. There are a few important scenes, well, one in particular with her mother, played by Kathy Najimy, where she’s just like, “Oh, yeah. She’s pan. She’s great. She’s my daughter.” It’s like Lauren’s community really loves her, so the focus is actually not on Lauren’s sexuality. It’s really on her boldness in the world, and her size, that she dominates.” Bernard went on to say that she’s received very positive responses to her character from the queer community. “It’s a real privilege that I get to play her.” Bernard went on to note her appearance on the show Lip Sync: “Dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.’I just was like,‘This is what I have to do,' I think I must do “Don’t Rain on My Parade”, and it’s got to be RBG. Ruth is up against all of Washington, and she’s ready to sock it to them and become the star that she is, that she’s always been.” (9/15/2021)

Felicity Smoak in the final 8th season of Arrow (on CW) – In the barely watchable last season, that mostly flitted through time and alternative universes, “Felicity” showed up to be united with dead “Oliver” in the finale’s afterlife with no Jewish references. (1/31/2020)

Murdoch Mysteries (in the U.S. on Ovation) In a special “200th episode of this Canadian series set at the turn of the 20th century, (S13 Ep11), “Staring Blindly into the Future”, written by Paul Aitken, Noelle Girard, Mary Pedersen, and Dan Trotta, the gathering of historical figures for a conference in Toronto on the future including Emma Goldman (played by Lisa Norton). Identified only as a pro-labor anti-capitalist, she delights in punching Andrew Carnegie (Philip Craig) in the nose. In a series that enjoys intersecting with history, Goldman had appeared in two previous episodes: "War on Terror" (S5 Ep4, shown in 2012) and "The Spy Who Came Up to the Cold" (S7 Ep15, shown in 2014 in Canada). (3/8/2020)

Vienna Blood – 1st season (on PBS) Based on the mystery novels by Frank Tannis that I haven’t yet read, the Jewish family moved from England to Vienna is introduced in the first episode. While the story revolved around the son the doctor “Dr. Max Liebermann” (Matthew Beard) who is taking Dr. Freud’s classes while practicing at a hospital amidst anti-Semitic staff, his sister “Leah” (Charlene McKenna) is a lively secondary character, though his mother “Rachel” (Amelia Bullmore) is barely tertiary. His feisty blonde fiancée “Clara Weiss” (played by German actress Luise von Finckh) is so a part of Viennese society that I had to infer she’s Jewish as a friend of the sister and as warmly acceptable to his parents. (updated 3/6/2020)

Résistance (on PBS - “Walter’s Choice) – Commissioned to commemorate the 70th anniversary in 2014 of the liberation of Paris, this French six episode mini-series is based on true stories of the young people in their teens and early ‘20’s in the French underground, including friends and family of creator Dan Franck. But Jews are secondary charcters on screen here. In Paris, the idealistically Communist Jewish Kirschen family was real, and plunged into anti-Nazi activities right after the Occupation, per the final scroll: Bernard (played by Matila Malliarakis) and his father Joseph (Christian Charmetant) were shot for their activities, on August 11 1942 ; the other son André (played by Jérémie Petrus) returned from Germany in 1945. Wife/mother Marie (Sophie Le Tellier), who is seen being supportive and then disappeared at the Round-up, did not survive deportation. In the 3rd episode, set in 1941, Cristina Boïco (played by Romanian actress Cristina Flutur) joins a Kirschen Friday night dinner. She’s asked if she’s Jewish; her tart reply (in translation): I have been for 25 years. A real person born Bianca Marcusohn in Romania, she did work as a translator and intelligence spy for the underground; a dedicated Communist, she returned to Romania after the war, but came back to Paris after her disillusionment with the regime. She should be better known in the history of Jewish women. So the Jewish women are not shown as victims on screen, which is a rarity in a period series. I wonder if there is more information on them in Georges Brandstatter’s 2015 book Combattants Juifs dans les armées de Liberation, but it is not available in English. (updated 3/6/2020)

Earth’s Sacred Wonders (on PBS) In the “Closer to Divine” episode, Mia Jaretsky prepares to celebrate her bat mitzvah at Masada, along side her younger brother, for three generations of her family. The narrator explains: “This is one of the most popular bar/bat mitzvah sites in the world – over 400 per year.” While most such series feature Hasids, this American family has no knowledge of Hebrew and little about the services or ritual, and the siblings worked with a tutor for a year to memorize their readings. As the eldest, Mia has had to learn twice as much as her brother. Unlike his hesitant reading, “Mia sailed through.” Her mother tearfully explains that Mia suffered through a tumor on her neck and through treatment. (4/21/2020)

Unorthodox (on Netflix) (For background on Deborah Feldman, whose memoirs provide the basis for this fictionalized series, see #FemalePleasure) (4/14/2020)

Better Things – in the 4th season (on FX) (5/28/2020)

The Plot Against America (on HBO) - David Simon’s and Ed Burns’ adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2004 novel (much appreciated by our Fiction Book Club) is richly Jewish in a Jewish neighborhood of Weequahic, in Newark, NJ, and very sympathetic to the brunette women, as penned in by the time and place they are living. In the central Levin family, the wife and mother of two boys is “Elizabeth (Bess)” (played by Zoe Kazan), who blesses the Shabbat candles. She hosts Friday night dinners that include her sister “Evelyn Finkel” (played by Winona Ryder – she added photos from her father and grandfather to the apartment set), is a teacher working for the Newark Teachers Union, and, in the opening episode, set in 1940, is a discouraged spinster living with their mother whose non-Jewish lover just wanted her as a “fun” mistress, but is then charmed by a new, Southern rabbi in town “Lionel Bengelsdorf” (played by John Turturro). “Bess” reluctantly goes along with her husband “Herman” (played by Morgan Spector) to look at a house in Union, NJ that is down the block from a German-American beer garden, decorated with posters of “American Firster” Charles Lindbergh, where drunks mock them with anti-Semitic slurs. She is physically and emotionally shook by negative memories of her lonely childhood as the only Jew in her school and neighborhood in Elizabeth, NJ, and pleads that she does not want her sons to repeat that experience. He sympathizes.
In the recommended accompanying podcast interviews with Peter Sagal, David Simon explained how he expanded the two Jewish women’s roles into three-dimensional women, fleshed out even more by the two actresses, because the book was limited by the main character’s ten year old point of view. Emphasizing that he added in his experience of the role of women in his own Jewish family, he explained how the older, unobservant sister is attracted to the 60-year-old Lindbergh-supporting rabbi as her last chance at marriage, while the mother going out to get a job in order to save money to buy a house is the rock of the family.
The two sisters are at the heart of the 3rd episode. “Bess” goes into New York to the Canadian consulate to explore emigration, and is optimistic of this possibility because one of the limited admission criteria is “familial connection” – which her brother-in-law “Alvin” (played by Catholic Irish Anthon Boyle) service in the Candian Army (I’m here to kill Nazis!) would qualify. “Bess” tries to calm her husband’s histrionics about the increasingly tense political scene, as she sees it affecting their children’s health, first just in their home, then on a fraught trip to “see the monuments” in Washington, DC. “Evelyn” becomes the Rabbi’s assistant in his Jewish assimilation program in the Lindbergh administration, running the Newark office of his brainchild “Just Folks”, where she can get her nephew “Sandy” (Caleb Malis) onto a Kentucky farm for the summer. “Herman” thinks of her as the rabbi’s “mistress”; “Bess” quibbles that he’s a widower. While they become fond lovers, even when he can’t peform what with living in a house surrounded by reminders of his late wife, he does propose to her – at a fancy gathering of such anti-Semitic Lindergh supporters as Henry Ford. In the accompanying podcast interview with Peter Sagal, Simon appreciates what the actors brought beyond the script: “We were were able to deliver the characters outside of young Philip’s view [in the book]. They had interior lives. We see genuine affection Evelyn has for this man and him for her, against the politics of a damaged time. That makes them more interesting…that the book can’t give you. The Levin family sees them as political opportunists, that she got her hooks into a macher to marry. In the book, they look like they have shallow ambitions and doesn’t grant them the possibility of being tragic.” “Evelyn” is especially hurt that her mother has become senile so can’t appreciate her success, confusing her with her sister.
After the 4th episode, he posted on Twitter: “You may ask, how did I get Winona Ryder to play the villainess in a political miniseries. And if you listen to this podcast you will know the answer. I had to promise she would be able to tell someone to go shit in the ocean in Yiddish. Something Tim Burton never let her do.”
David Simon’s tweets on the finale: 5/26/2020: “I personally met with Roth for an hour and half to go over the project. He was explicit that the kidnapping horseshit from Evelyn & the rabbi is meant as conspiratorist nonsense & no one should take it seriously…He didn’t request changes save for the family surname. He urged us to maintain the family’s general status as assimilating, non-orthodox Jews and to regard Evelyn’s conspiracy claims as nonsense as intended. He also discussed similarities/differences between Lindbergh and Trump…The nonsense about Lindbergh’s son being kidnapped was written by Roth as the sort of conspiratorist tripe that idiots spit up whenever anything controversial happens. He never expected readers to take Evelyn’s crazed ranting seriously.”
On the historical aspects:
My colleague Lou Lumenick has been researching the lost histories of the movies. When he posted about a Manhattan theater that once specialized in showing Newsreels, I asked him if there was one in Newark in the earely 1940’s, where characters in this series get their war news, including what was happening to Jews in real life. He provided supporting documentation for Simon’s authenticity:

David Simon tweets: On May 22, 2020: “My father, age 7, took the tube train from Jersey City to sit on his father’s shoulders and cheer Lindbergh as he came down lower Broadway. Thirteen years later, as an NYU student, he would be protesting the same man as a fascist and anti-Semite.” 5/24/2020: “Thing about libel is you have to have a reputation of sufficient merit that it can be damaged. After the Des Moines speech and Pearl Harbor, Lindbergh had no such thing. Also descendants can’t sue for shit, only principals.” On May 15: “No actual point in debating where the America of 1940 can veer in Roth’s wholly alternate history. But what is embarrassing is the number of Jewish writers who rigorously avoid the allegory between a fictional construct of anti-Semitism and our current racist/xenophobic reality.”
Several scenes used locales in my neighborhood: Eddie’s Sweet Shoppe (on Metropolitan Avenue); on Continental down Metropolitan Ave; on 73rd Road (between Queens Blvd and Austin St; on Puritan Avenue between Beechknoll and Burns St; and several locals were extras. (According to my fellow Forest Hills Jewish Center members/witnesses) (updated 5/26/2021)

The Windermere Children (BBC production shown on PBS, accompanied by In Their Own Words documentary of interviews with Holocaust child survivors taken to England to recover and get adopted) Most of those interviewed are men. The docu-drama does make a point of focusing on one Jewish woman social worker who was a particular advocate for the children, as a student of Anna Freud. (6/21/2020; added to 7/31/2020)

World On Fire (1st season on PBS) For an epic series set at the start of World War II across Britain, France, Germany and Poland, it took until the 4th episode written by series creator Peter Bowker, for a Jewish woman to show up – two, in Paris. A pregnant refugee is hurt in an anti-Semitic attack, but is allowed into the hospital by one of the primary characters, gay American doctor “Webster O'Connor” (played by Brian J. Smith). To emphasize the risk he’s taking, his nurse “Henriette Guilbert” (played by Eugénie Derouand) comes out to him as Jewish, confessing that she’s been working with forged papers under the name “Gerbois”. But in the penultimate episode, she shares her thrill at successfully sneaking a British prisoner out of the hospital to escape via the Resistance by giving him a big kiss – she certainly is misreading his signals as much as she did the Germans’ in not fleeing with her family when she could. (updated 5/12/2020)

A Place To Call Home (1st season on PBS; 1 – 3 seasons are simultaneously, and confusingly for my DVR, running one morning a week on Ovation) Created by Bevan Lee, this Australian series was began broadcasting on the 7 Network in 2013 and all 6 seasons are streaming via Acorn TV – if PBS doesn’t carry them all, I may have to break down and subscribe. I didn’t expect a Jewish woman character in the first episode “Prodigal Daughter”, so I was surprised when blonde nurse “Sister Rachel Adams” (played by Marta Dusseldorp) is confronted at home in Sydney by her mother (actress to be determined): …abandoning your family? your church? Your God?... Are you going to be my daughter again? I suppose you want me to call you Sarah?... we'll go to the church, and you'll go on your knees and ask Him for forgiveness for what you've done…You'll repent, and I'll forgive you everything. Every wrong. You can do that now. Let Him into your heart again. Then I can love you…Then go. Take your Jew name and go…I have no daughter. There’s other clues about her from her resume when she applies to work at Inverness Hospital, in Queensland, almost 100 miles from Sydney: she left home to help in the Spanish Civil War, her resume leaves off 1939- 1945 because of “personal history”, and the doctor notices she’s left religion blank, and assume she’s an atheist: We have prayers twice a day here. She finally answers: I’m Jewish, by faith. He’s very surprised – and the TV audience too, as she’s a rarity: You converted? She: I’ll say my prayers while you say yours. Is that all right with you Doctor? Later when he tries to tell her how to deal with an obstreperous patient “Roy Briggs” (Frankie J. Holden): I’ve been told what to do before. I’ve been forced. I told myself never again.
In 3rd episode, “Truth Will Out”, written by Trent Atkinson, she protests to her hospital boss: I value my privacy...Sarah is the name I have lived and worked under for years…You picked the wrong woman to interrogate!, making him feel guilty enough to rebel against his benefactor/her nemesis. But she finally confesses her secret to the grizzled veteran “Roy” whose wounded leg she tends: The name on my passport is Bridget. That's my birth name. That's what caused all the trouble today. People wanting the truth behind it…Yeah, I changed it when I married. My husband was Jewish. When you convert, you're given a Jewish name. But I lost all proof of that identity during the war. René died. In Dachau. I-- lived., with tears.
In the 4th episode “The Mona Lisa Smile”, also written by Trent Atkinson, “Sarah” starts her first day making rounds. The Doctor introduces her to the tailors: The Goldbergs. Only ones of your lot around. Their niece Leah has TB…the things she went through as a little ''s best she's treated at home. It's a grim story. I'm sure they'll tell it if they want to. They thought it was better for business to lose the 'berg'. “Aunt Miriam” (played by Lisa Peers) and “Uncle Itzaak” (played by Martin Sacks) have thick Eastern European accents, and after they offer “Sarah” a strudel, she shocks them: Grossen dank. I'm Jewish. They’re thrilled. Aunt: You must join us for Shabbos, yeah? Sarah: I would love to. Doctor: I reckon you made their day. “Sarah”: They made mine. She does return on Friday, the Aunt blesses the candles, and they wish each other “Good Shabbos”. After “Sarah” sneaks the niece a forbidden movie poster of her favorite movie star Marilyn Monroe, she tells them: Leah's very special. They concur, but note: For years, she seemed so frail. Then the X-ray man came. The TB in her lungs. From her time in the cellar. She was hidden from the Nazis for years. That suffering, and still so optimistic. “Sarah”: Her parents? They explain.: Taken. Gone. Who can find the words? “Sarah”: I know. Again she surprises them: But we assumed you -- you were here during the war, safe. Well, we don't mean to bring up any bad memories. “Sarah”: I was in Ravensbruck. Two years. They’re supportive: You survived. “Sarah”: A part of me did. As she’s leaving: It's taken me eight years to speak of the things I did tonight. They: And how do you explain to those who can't even imagine such things? She: I've had the opportunity before. Strange. I'm not sure why I finally felt able to. They suggest: Time. Bashert? She: Fate. Belonging somewhere again. Thank you.
The 5th episode “Day of Atonement”, written by Rick Held, has so much more about putting Yom Kippur in practice among a community of Christians that I’ll need to describe in detail when I get a chance. In subsequent episodes, “Sarah”, as well as “Mrs. Goldberg”, continue to face anti-Semitism in the town. Particularly as “Sarah” is romantically (and sexually) involved with rich patriarch widower “George Bligh” (played by Brett Climo), in episodes written by Atkinson, she is frequently insulted as “a Jew”.
By Episode 10, “Lest We Forget”, by the series creator, geo-politics is exposing lots of biases set off by war and varied efforts at possible forgiveness. While the doctor, as a former POW of the Japanese has to greet a Japanese trade delegation, the reasons for “George”s sister-in-law “Regina”, and competitor for his romantic attentions, deep antipathy to “Sarah The Jew” is revealed by “George”: She lived with her late diplomat husband in Jerusalem as part of the British Protectorate in the King David Hotel when it was bombed in 1946, and some of her friends were killed. This conflation with anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is strikingly similar to some elements of the BDS Movement now, and I suppose known to Australians in 2013. “George” confronts “Regina” who is sarcastic: Honestly, I know the Jews have suffered, but it does make them overly sensitive. Oh, dear. That seems to support her case, doesn't it?, and promises to apologize. Instead, she points out to a friend: A local nurse. A Jew. She converted. Oh, to be born one is unfortunate. But to become one? My dear, positively perverse. “Anna” confronts her as “The Gentile”. “Regina” retorts: A wise friend once said, "They should call it the Whining Wall, the amount they whine." “Anna”: That smile takes me right back to Germany. “Regina”: And yours me to Jerusalem. “Anna”: Israel's still there. Nazi Germany isn't. Meanwhile, several times now, “Anna” has shown her fighting skills, and revealed to more that she spent time in Ravensbruck concentration camp. (updated 6/11/2020)

- Still from Double Holiday on Hallmark Channel - Image by Allister Foster/2019 Crown Media United States, LLC.- and promotional poster
Hallmark Hanukkah Movies - In time for Hanukkah 2017 (or 5779), Crown Media, the owner of the Hallmark Channel, told Jonathan Berr of Forbes Magazine it was planning its first Hanukkah-themed movies in its popular holiday marathons since “2012’s Hitched for the Holidays starring Joey Lawrence of TV’s Blossom and Emily Hampshire as characters pretending to be a couple to get their meddling families off their backs, only to fall in love for real.” Sorry that I seem to have missed that one. “[T]wo movies with Hanukkah themes under development that it plans to air next year…are in their early stages. The script of one called Holiday Date is being written. According to a company spokeswoman, it will have ‘Hanukkah elements…which is a lot of fun as Hanukkah and Christmas overlap in 2019.’ Additional details on the other holiday movie weren't available.” The first two Hallmark movies built around Hanukkah-themed plots are Holiday Date story by Kraig Wenman, written by Karen Berger, and Double Holiday by Nina Weinman, both written by Hallmark holiday movie veterans. Britni de la Cretaz in The Washington Post 12/2/2019 makes good points: “Neither movie is a Hanukkah movie. They are Christmas movies with Jewish characters. And they rely on some of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the book… in the form of a Jewish character attempting to blend in among the wary members of a Christian family… [In Double Holiday] Hanukkah stands only in relation to Christmas, not on its own terms. Indeed, it functions as an obstacle to the rest of the characters getting to celebrate as usual. Rebecca [“Hoffman”, played by Carly Pope] even has to set aside her Hanukkah plans to organize the party with her male, Christian counterpart — which she does to further her professional ambition.” (updated 12/8/2019)

Elena of Avalor - Princess Rebekah - There was much advance excitement in the Jewish media that covers popular culture of a character hailed as “The First Jewish Disney Princess” (Vanellope notwithstanding). Shipwrecked from the kingdom of Galonia in Season 3, Episode 17 of the Disney Junior Channel daytime animated series. The “Festival of Lights” episode, written by Rachel Ruderman, was voiced by Jewish actress Jamie-Lynn Siegler, who also sang a possibly new Disney holiday song “This Hanukkah Night.”. In Remezcla, which noted that “Elena” was the only fictional figure on People en Español 2016’s “25 Mujeres Más Poderosas” list, Craig Gerber, the creator and executive producer, was proudly quoted: “It has always been important to us on Elena of Avalor to showcase the diversity of Latin and Hispanic cultures…We decided to focus on Hanukkah and a part of the culture that we hadn’t yet represented on the show.” However, the Jewish media interpreted Disney’s “Latino” kingdom as “Ladino”. So once the program aired, there was criticism that the apparently Sephardic kingdom’s royal family used Yiddish terms! While there was praise for including bimuelos as the holiday fried food, along with latkes as a Yiddishkeit “nosh”, her grandmother is “Bubbe” (voiced by Tovah Feldshuh) who talks of “dreidls” instead of “sevivon” to little brother “Ari”. (Reminds me of the parents’ dispute at my kids’ JCCA Day Care Center over teachers singing the Ashkenazi-preferred “I Have A Little Dreidl” instead of the Sephardic/Israeli-preferred “Sivivon Sov Sov Sov”.)
Lisa Dawn, on her Princess Blog was uncomfortable with the animation: “Her oddly shaped head and large nose make her look Jewish enough, but not cute and youthful like the other Disney Princesses. Her pudgy cheeks gave her wrinkles when she smiled that made her look more like a queen than a princess.”
Adam Eilath admirably went further with his criticism, albeit into a non-Disney comfort zone and unnecessarily in past tense: “Perhaps the greatest missed opportunity of the show was the failure to incorporate the Jewish tradition of female empowerment and leadership, something that was central to the Sephardic experience of Hanukkah. Jews in North Africa and the Middle East had a special holiday on Rosh Hodesh Tevet, which falls on the seventh night of Hanukkah this year, called Eid El Bnat (La Fete de Filles - “The Holiday of [Daughters]” in Arabic and French, respectively) [Chag HaBanot in Hebrew]. On this night, Jewish women in Sephardic and Mizrachi countries would celebrate the story of Judith, a hero who saved the Jewish people by seducing and killing an Assyrian general. Women in these countries would exchange gifts, bless one another and reconcile over any disagreement they may have had in the year. It was common to eat dairy food in memory of the cheese that Judith used to seduce the Assyrian general Holofernes.”
Rishe Groner in Hey Alma expanded on her 2017 Lilith Magazine piece with details on another heroine commemorated at this holiday - the daughter of the Hasmonean, Yohanan the High Priest, who lived in Judea during the time of the Maccabees, and plotted with her brothers by also feigning the king’s seduction. She describes Disney-esque commemorations: “Sweet traditional foods were prepared and gifted in baskets to mothers, daughters, or mothers-in-law, prayers were shared, and songs were sung. Overall, though, the key components always include lighting the Hanukkah candles, lots of music and dancing, and the opportunity to create intimacy and community with women…A song or piyyut often begins the night, followed by lighting the Hanukkah candles. Piyyutim are liturgical poems written in Hebrew that are sung with incredibly complicated and deeply moving Arabic maqam (a system of melodic modes)…One awesome tradition is the presentation of the bat mitzvah girls of the year — consider it our very own debutante ball, but this time, it’s up to the moms and aunts to cheer, bless, and generally love up these young girls as newcomers to the women’s circle. It’s also traditional to prepare foods together, like the North African favorite sfenj — think jelly doughnuts meet churros drizzled with honey — or honey cakes, cookies, or a potluck dinner. Mishloach manot — gifting packages of food and treats — is also part of the Eid Al Bnat tradition.”
Harvey’s Girls (Netflix) Hanukkah episode written by Sarah Nerboso in this animated series (Commentary forthcoming when I figure out if the Jewish girl is a regular character.)(updated 1/31/2020)

Suits (on USA) “Lewis Litt”s sister “Esther Litt Adelstein ” (Amy Acker) made returned for the final 9th season, for a “Me Too”-themed episode concerning an incident with her business mentor 15 years ago come back to interfere with a company merger, in “Prisoner’s Dilemma”, written by Ethan Drogin, who was promoted to Executive Producer. [Details forthcoming – there was no explicit mention of her Jewish identity, but lots of frank talk with her brother.] (11/2/2019)

The Preppy Murder: Death in Central Park (on AMC/Sundance Channels) Docu-Series: Ep 1: “Woman Down In Central Park”; Ep 2: “Rough Sex”; Ep 3 “Who is Robert Chambers?”; Ep 4: “Blame the Victims”; Ep 5: “The Trial of the Decade”. (preview at 2019 Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival) Directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg were interviewed in Hollywood Reporter by Marisa Guthrie, 11/13/2019 about the 1988 trial of Robert Chambers for the murder of Jennifer Levin: “Stern who grew up in New York City and frequented the same social circles as Chambers : ‘I said to Annie, if anyone’s going to make this series, it’s going to be us. We need to set the record straight.’ Sundberg. ‘And Jennifer Levin’s story was either misrepresented or not represented at all. This was an opportunity to go back and find out exactly why that happened.”’ Her mother Ellen Levin and sister Danielle, several times refer to the family being Jewish, in contrast to the Catholic Chambers (whose judge was impressed by an archbishop’s character reference letter) and the otherwise gentile crowd he hung out with, and their choice to have an open coffin funeral, against tradition. In a coda, her mother describes how for ten years after the trial she lobbied in Albany for victims’ rights legislation with Justice for All: “It wasn’t just me – it was me and Jen.” But it’s difficult to listen to Linda Fairstein, who was proud to be only the second woman in the Manhattan DA’s office to ever try a murder case, after how she was portrayed in Ava DuVernay’s docu-drama of the Central Park 5 case When They See Us. (12/21/2019)

NCIS – Ziva David in the 17th season - After dramatically appearing at the very end of last season’s finale, Cote de Pablo returns in the very complicated first two episodes, “Out of the Darkness” written by Gina Lucita Monreal, and “Into the Light” written by Steven D Binder, that had to do with her daughter “Talya” and the daughter’s father her lover/co-worker “Tony”, her brother, and various convolutedterrorist plots, as well as her father/daughter relationship with her American boss. She is scheduled to guest on two more ratings-period-significant episodes this season, in the fall (“The North Pole” also written by Monreal) and spring season finales. Due to torture and perhaps motherhood, she’s had considerable personality changes, let alone suffering from panic attacks. [Additional commentary forthcoming] (updated 12/22/2019)

The Good Fight – Marissa Gold in the first season (on CBS broadcast; originally shown on CBS All Access premium service in 2017) As played by Sarah Steele, she came over in this spin-off from The Good Wife from the episode “First Week”, written by Ryan Pederson & Joey Scavuzzo, on. Clever and enterprising, she got herself hired to be the assistant to the un-retired law partner “Diane Lockhart” (played by Christine Baranski). “Marissa” develops into quite a good investigator to want to get a professional license. “Self-Condemned”, written by Jim McKay, added in a sexy Israeli woman “Naftali Amato” (played by Katrina Lenk) as a comic relief dominatrix being a witness in court for a despicable returning character “Colin Sweeney” (played by Dylan Baker), in an otherwise serious episode. (updated 7/29/2019)

Fear the Walking Dead – Sarah in the 5th season (on AMC) The episode “Ner Tamid”, written by Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg, introduced its first Jewish character in the The Walking Dead universe in the “Rabbi Jacob Kessner” (played by Peter Jacobson, who is a frequent portrayer of Jewish men on TV). Then at the end, bad-ass truck driver “Sarah” (played by comic turned actress Mo Collins) too suddenly revealed to him: Good to have you with us, Rabbi. Say, you wouldn't happen to know how far out we are from Yom Kippur, would ya? I got a few things to atone for. Rabbi: You've got some time yet. “Dwight” (a redeemed, cross-over character from the original series, played by Austin Amelio): You're Jewish? “Sarah”: Rabinowitz. Card-carrying Member of the Tribe. Rabbi: I was about to do the Ma'ariv. Care to join me? “Sarah”: You ever say kiddush with a Saison? Rabbi: No need. I make my own wine. “Sarah”: My kinda rabbi. Much as I appreciate the very non-stereotyped image of a Jewish woman on TV, let alone one who considers the black, wheelchair bound “Wendell” (played by Daryl Mitchell) her brother, this revelation is typical of older TV where Jewish heritage is just a punch line gimmick of one episode, or then maybe referred to within a holiday episode. (9/4/2019)

Preacher – Dany in the 4th Season (on AMC) Jewish crime boss “Dany” (played by Julie Dretzin) returned as the series apocalyptically barrels towards conclusion. “Tulip” (played by Ruth Negga) is tracking down “Jesse Custer” (Dominic Cooper), even returning to her previous occupation as an assassin. In the back of an active Orthodox shule, “Dany”: Is that why you've come, for my knowledge of traditional Jewish hats and headwear? “Tulip”: You know what we want, Dany. Who we want. “Dany”: But first you know what I want. She gets a call. You killed my husband! “Tulip”: Like you asked me to, Dany. Like you've been asking me for 10 years, Dany. Look. You got what you want, now we get what we want. “Dany” reluctantly keeps assenting: I know! I didn't think you'd do it! You always said no. 100 times I asked you and you always said no. Here's the thing. Jesse gave it to me for safekeeping. “Tulip”: There's no "thing," Dany. We had a deal. Where is he? “Dany”: You don't understand. What you are asking I can't do it. I can't take you to him. “Tulip” beats her up bloody. “Dany” finally leads her to the idiot clone of Jesus Christ: I hope he melts your faces off…When Jesse first sent him to me for safekeeping, I thought, ‘This is God's chosen one? He's raping blocks of cheese.’ But then Something happened. His power, his love changed me. It changed all of us. Do you understand now how special he really is? Why I could never let you take him. Ever. As “Tulip” grabs him, “Dany” screams: Stop them! They're taking our Messiah! As the male congregation screams Moshiach!, one guy comments: I didn't even know we had a Messiah. “Dany” snarls: Because we didn't tell you, Eli! Schmuck. (9/8/2019)

Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 6th Season (on Netflix) Whoops – Season 6 begins streaming January 2020 before I even got a chance to watch S1 yet to comment on Lily Tomlin’s portrayal of the Jewish woman character. The series also got renewed for its 7th/final season, with 16 episodes in 2021. (updated 4/11/2020)

Will & Grace – Grace Adler in the 11th, final season (on NBC) (I’m still catching up) (11/24/2019)

The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 7th season (on ABC) (I detest this sit com so much that I couldn’t bring myself to finish watching even the 2nd season, so I’m not goint to waste my time watching the didn’t-deserve-to-be-renewed 5th season. While I could even now catch it more frequently in syndication, I’ll probably have to end up buying the complete series on DVD to do a complete review with episode-by-episode documentation of its clichés.) (11/24/2019)

Our Boys (on HBO) Controversial 10-part series created by Joseph Cedar (one of my favorite Israeli directors), Tawfik Abu Wael(writing and directed the Palestinian story line), and Hagai Levi, based on true story of a Palestinian teenager abducted and brutally murdered by Orthodox Jews in 2014, ostensibly in revenge for Palestinian militants killing of Israeli teens two days earlier. While I haven’t started watching the series, the Israeli mothers’ public profile is featured. (9/9/2019)

Hunters - Ruth Heidelbaum and Mindy Markowitz plus in Season 1 (11 episodes streaming on Amazon Prime, Season 2 began streaming January 2023) Seeing Austrian director Thomas Roth’s Schächten—A Retribution, at 2023 New York Jewish Film Festival of Film at Lincoln Center and The Jewish Museum/ courtesy of Menemsha Films, with the real, but meager prosecutions of Nazis, and fictionalized Simon Wiesenthal organizing attacking avengers vs. real organized Nazi protectors, I was curious to see this American series based on a similar idea (and, too, because a cousin posted that he acts in some episodes). Unlike the film, several Jewish women characters are featured. The series is a more exaggerated tale of Nazi hunters in the U.S. in the 1970’s amidst sadistic Nazis’ large-scale plans for the rise of a Fourth Reich. (See Mor Lushy & Daniel Sivan’s short animated documentary Camp Confidential: America's Secret Nazis (2021) on Netflix for background on Operation Paperclip.)

In the opening 2-part episode “In the Belly of the Whale” written by showrunner David Weil (inspired by his Polish grandmother’s experiences in the Holocaust), “Helen Hirsch” (above played by Izabello Miko) is the red-headed wife of a new Carter administration Commerce Dept. underling who freaks out at a suburban Maryland BBQ when she recognizes that his affable boss “Biff Simpson” (Dylan Baker) is really “The Butcher of Arlav”! He slaughtered my whole family! He killed them all! Nazi! When he snarls Leave it to the Jew to think only of its pathetic existence, she recovers to confront him in tight close-up: We survived and we’ll survive again. He shoots her last. The action shifts to its main location in Brooklyn, and we’re introduced to a central character “Jonah Heidelbaum” (Logan Lerman) and his safta “Ruth” (played by Jeannie Berlin); maybe Weil thought the Hebrew for Grandmother sounded more serious than the Yiddish Bubbe? After she is killed by a Nazi she’s been hunting while she screams You can’t hide!, her grandson finds her handwritten journal of her Holocaust experiences; her voice narrates this journal as flashbacks over several episodes where her 1940’s, Polish-speaking self is portrayed by Annie Hägg. Yiddish words and phrases that are not the typical ones are generously sprinkled throughout the series’ dialogue.
In Episode 3 “Mourner’s Kaddish”, also written by Weil, we find out more about “Ruth”s extensive activities, including setting up “The Arc”, a cross-indexed archive of survivors’ interviews connected with researched clues about Nazi criminals. In subsequent episodes, “Jonah” hallucinates her with him, either as his safta, or as the young woman prisoner in the Auschwitz garb. We meet the titular collective led by “Meyer Offerman” (Al Pacino), who had a long “complicated” relationship with “Ruth”. The team includes a survivor couple, the somewhat religious “Mindy Horowitz” (played by the inimitable Carol Kane) who married back “in the shtetl” atheist “Murray” (Saul Rubinek). A flashback shows that “Meyer” assembled the team with the aid of a wealthy Jewish matchmaker “Hilda Hoffman” (played by Kathryn Kates), whose office is in NYC’s Diamond District: I help you, it makes noise. In my line of work, noise is death. 31 years since liberation, I have made 345 matches that produced 957 Jewish souls - 7 more are pregnant this week. That should be enough for Hashem. This comes with responsibility to make the world better for these 957 lives…That’s 5,999,043 short, but we have time yet.
The 7th episode "Ruth 1:16”, written by Millicent Shelton, has some of the most intense Jewish references. We see that another woman in the unit has a hidden Jewish past as the young girl “Rebekah Kreutzer” on a Kinder Transport. The episode, and the Jewishness, centers around the wedding of the “Horowitz”s daughter “Amy” (played by Hannah Reid Rubinek, Saul’s real-life daughter), one of their five children (two are daughters). They share a blessing and “Mindy” tells him: I heard what you said. 30 years, I have not heard you say that word: "Amen." He shrugs: A person can't be thankful? We had heard earlier references to them mourning the death of their young son “Aaron” (Aaron Markowitz), and in a flashback to the concentration camp we see the boy executed by a Nazi commandante – the same hidden Nazi “Moritz” that the hidden Jewish member of the team brings to them as a “wedding present”.
”Jonah” is naturally upset by attacks on the group, but “Meyer” wants him to recite the Birkat Kohanim at the wedding: The Hunt is not only…about death, Jonah. No. It's about life, too. It is a great tragedy to me not to celebrate what it is we do have…for centuries we've been persecuted because of these rituals. These are the very things that define us. That make us us. Retreating from that... that's defeat. And I'm not ready to admit defeat. Are you? But “Jonah” stumbles over the unfamiliar Hebrew , and switches: There is this one prayer that I do know pretty well because my safta, she used to say it every night. Every night. She said it gave her courage and hope on her worst days. She said it was stronger than any weapon or armor. She said that this prayer, the “Birkhat HaGomel”, gave her superpowers and shit, sorry... stuff…I thought I would say it tonight for you, Amy and Ben. From me. And so, from her. A hallucination of “Ruth” appears and recites the prayer with him. “Jonah” also flashbacks to “Ruth” protesting when he tried to take a chai necklace out of her dresser: Give me that. It belonged to your grandfather. Just when “Meyer” confesses why he doesn’t wear his: Because I gave the necklace away to the woman I loved, and I've never worn one since. A clue! “Jonah” is choked up as the wedding guests dance the hora: My “safta” always wanted me to feel...part of our people. Part of our tribe. (1/28/2023)

Pose – Frederica Norman in the 2nd season (on FX) This Peabody Award-winning series so beautifully portrays the travails of trans and gay minority folks in NYC reeling from the AIDS crisis, with wonderful acting by people from those communities, that I kept looking for clues that in this 2nd season set in 1990 this stereotyped wealthy divorcée landlord is not Jewish, when she appeared from the 2nd episode “Worth It”, written by Janet Mock, in limo declaring: I don't normally rent to anyone darker than my Aunt Lily after a week's vacation in Palm Beach, but I've had good luck with Dominicans. Hard workers, for the most part. When she wants to kick out the manicure salon owner “Blanca Rodriguez” (played by MJ Rodriguez) because she is trans, “Blanca” stays by filing with the Human Rights Commission. As portrayed by Patti LuPone, by Episode 6 “Love’s In The Need of Love Today”, written by series co-creator Brad Falchuk and Our Lady J, will certainly be perceived as a putative Jewish woman. While she talks of the (stereotypical) gays in her life, like her hair stylist, she performs at the AIDS Cabaret fundraiser, even if it’s to distract the manicurist who is running the event from the eviction that’s going on simultaneously. She refers to growing up in Scarsdale, with music and dance lessons, and wanting to emulate in every way Elizabeth Taylor, whose conversion in 1959 was well-publicized. LuPone has said in interviews that her character is loosely based on Leona Helmsley, who was Jewish, neé Lena Mindy Rosenthal, though her final husband Harry was not.
In the next episode, “Blow” written by Jane Mock, the feud continues. “Blanca” reports about The New York Post: You know what she did?…She told Page Six that all of us protesting - left hypodermic needles and condoms laying around in a gutter in front of my nail salon. It was on the news this morning. And they didn't necessarily use the words HIV, but we already know what they were implying. The world is scared of us, and she's using that to beat me. “Pray Tell” (played by Billy Porter): Evil, but smart. “Blanca” announces to her house: ACT UP is looking to make a statement about safe sex, and they want to do something that's gonna get on the news. “Pray Tell”: So Blanca and I have come up with a little caper with flair. “Blanca”: The three of you are gonna head upstate and wrap one of those high society dames's country house in a giant condom…Whose house? Frederica Norman's. I thought I might kill two birds with one stone. It's an opportunity to highlight her bigotry and get the message out about condom use. While they’re inflating a huge balloon condom all around her house, with TV crew in tow, a middle-aged neighbor with hair in curlers and housecoat walking by contradicts an attempt to flatter her: She's the worst neighbor I've ever had. That bitch can die in a fire. But I'm still calling the cops. Somehow I didn’t catch how, “Blanca” has re-opened her nail salon, when “Fredericka” storms in and is told: You know what? I reserve the right to refuse services to anyone, especially a homophobic, racist witch who breaks contracts. “Fredericka”: I've been stiffed on payments, I've been double-crossed on deals. That all comes with the territory. But your assault on me, my home, my reputation! “Blanca”: Please, Frederica. You act like the world didn't already know you was a stone-cold bitch. You basically bragged about how hard you was the first day we met. “Fredericka” is surprisingly revealing: This is different. You humiliated me. Do you know how difficult it is for a woman in real estate? Now they're laughing at me. And those Upper West Side commies think I'm prejudiced. And all because of you. “Blanca”: Good. Now, can you please leave my establishment? “Fredericka”: Fine. I just came down here to say congratulations, Blanca, or whatever your real name is. You won. I'm not easy to get the best of. I almost admire you. Underestimate me at your peril. Do be careful at night when you leave here, though. This neighborhood isn't improving as fast as I thought it would. “Blanca”: Excuse me, is that a threat? You gonna send somebody to bust my kneecaps? I'm just saying that you should underestimate me at your peril, too, sweetheart. She reports back to her housemates: So, next thing I know, she up and left. I mean, she just hopped in her car and sped away.
In “Life’s A Beach”, written by Gwyneth Horder-Payton, “Frederica” saunters into the burned-out storefront in a lovely yellow outfit.: What happened to my building? This is devastating. How will I recover?…My name is on the deed, sweetheart. I was in the car heading to my summer cottage when I got the call that my property had burned down. Isn't that terrible? “Blanca”: I put all of my savings into this salon, and somehow, I didn't know that insurance was needed to cover the supplies and furniture and all of my stuff! It went up into smoke just like that. “Fredericka”: You live and you learn. “Blanca”: Going toe-to-toe with you, I learned what protecting yourself really looks like. You taught me that. And for that, I will be grateful. “Fredericka”: After our squabble, I raised the insurance coverage on this building. I just had a feeling something like this could happen. Come next spring, I'll triple the rent, attracting tenants that will breathe a breath of fresh air - into this ghetto enclave. Yeah, this place is right on track for a much-needed makeover. How I will miss our conversations. I will relish all summer the thought of you back home, in your grim little Bronx walk-up, filing acrylics in the sweltering 100-degree August heat.
“Fredericka” manages to persevere in the season finale “In My Heels”, written and directed by Janet Mock. “Blanca” reads aloud a newspaper article: A female real estate mogul was arrested Thursday morning in connection to a Harlem building fire - that erupted last August. Frederica Norman, 62, was charged with felony first-degree arson for the fire at 794 East 116th Street, where two firefighters were injured and a nail salon owner lost her business. Ms. Norman is believed to have set the blaze herself in order to profit by filing fraudulent insurance claims following the fire. At the conclusion, her lawyer meets with her in jail: When am I getting out, Asher? Lawyer: The judge revoked bail…He feels with your wealth, you're a flight risk. She laughs, then does a peroration worthy of the equally morally compromised Scarlett O’Hara: They are so goddamn predictable. It's because I'm a woman. Lawyer: You're in here because an eyewitness saw you leaving a building. She: Asher, because they want to make an example. To put me in my place. To put all women in their place. We are not allowed to have empires or emotions. We are expected to sit at home patiently waiting for our husbands, cook their meals, supply unpaid emotional and physical labor to aid in the fulfillment of their dreams. We are not supposed to have dreams of our own. The only thing I feel bad about, if I have anything to feel bad about at all, is that I ended another woman's dreams. For that, I will proudly serve time. But I will not be penalized for having a dream of my own and doing what I had to do to make it a reality. I refuse to be shamed for my ambition! She slams down the phone. The ill “Blanca” continues reading the article aloud, with a chuckle: Ms. Norman could face five years in prison, - according to state officials…1996 seems like a lifetime away. Frederica being locked up is further proof - that my work here is done. (updated 9/4/2019)

In The Terror (on AMC), brilliantly set during the horrific detention of Japanese-American citizens, in “All The Demons Are Still in Hell”, written by Tony Tost, the young man “Chester Nakayama” (Derek Mio) seeks out his photography “Professor Henkoff” (played by Geoff Gustafson) about the spooky image that keeps appearing in his photos: There's been a few funerals on Terminal Island lately, and some more of the pictures that I took turned out like this. What am I doing wrong? Teacher: Well, if you ask my old professor, he'd say it's a combination of a slow shutter and a shaky hand. If you ask my Jewish mother, she'd say you've been taking photos of things you shouldn't be. “Chester”: But I asked you. Teacher: Well, I say a picture captures a photographer's relationship to the world around him, and with everything that's been going on right now, it's no surprise that yours are coming out a little disturbed. It's a tough time, Chester. I can only imagine what this is like for you right now. (8/19/2019)

Miriam “Midge” Maisel etc. –in 3rd season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (on Amazon, coming December 2019) I’m looking forward to streaming – and commenting on -- the first season first. (8/19/2019)

2018/2019 Season

At the start of this season, Lisa Edelstein made her most Jewish appearance, and her most comic, in the PSA for Hillel’s ”Mitz Vote” campaign to get college students and other young Jews to register for vote in time for the midterm elections, an updated version of Sarah Silverman’s “The Great Schlep” to get out the vote for Obama in Florida.

Stockholm – 1st season - I am woefully behind on streaming the many Israeli TV series streaming on U.S.-available platforms, because reading subtitles and taking notes is work, or catching introductory episodes at film festivals (as I did with On The Spectrum). But the 2019 New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival promoted that at least three episodes of this dark comic mini-series would be shown; though only two were due to endless speeches for the awarding of the 2019 Ronit Elkabetz A*H Pomegranate Award to co-star Sasson Gabay and designer Oded Halahmy, plus politicians.
Based on the bestselling novel (not available in English) by award-winner female Israeli writer Noa Yedlin, who co-wrote the four episodes, one each about the long-time, 70-year-old friends dealing with the sudden death of one who was an eminent economist expected to win the Nobel Prize, two women and two men, all with fond memories of their hippie-like youths together. Recently retired from some sort of medical practice and already bored with helping out her children with grandmother duties is Nilli (Tikva Dayan), who is more earthy and practical than the silly randy bubbes in most comedies. Writer Zohara Zak(Liora Rivlin) does commissioned biographies, and lands in a widely publicized scandal due to loudly accusing a 90 year old subject, a Holocaust survivor, of sexual harassment at his birthday party that is caught on viral video and on gossip TV; she also confesses to her friends that she had a long-time open relationship affair with the deceased, and does seem to be the only one genuinely moved by his death. These are mature, intelligent, very appealing characters who are unusual for TV, and I hope to get to see the rest of this 1st season of episodes through the distributor Menemsha Films, as this has been playing at many festivals in North America, and there’s talk of a 2nd season. (The first 2 episodes also shown at 2019 Israel Film Center Festival) (updated 6/7/2019)

Poetry in America (on some PBS stations) – In Harvard Prof. Elisa New’s Episode 4 on Allen Ginsberg, the discussion on the “Hymmnn” section of Kaddish with brief explanations to the references to “Naomi”, his mentally ill mother, and comparative recitations, as Tablet Magazine noted: “Rabbi Claudia Kreiman davens Ginsberg texts with a melody generally used for traditional Jewish liturgy.” The series also featured the poem The New Colossus by Sephardic poet Emma Lazarus, and one of the immigrant commenters was singer/songwriter Regina Spektor, who I include on Jewish Women in Popular Music. (10/28/2019)

Portraits in Architecture – Nada Breitman-Jakov (on some PBS stations) – While Geoffrey Baer, out of Chicago public broadcasting station WTTW, has developed various architectural and city planning programs that have been picked up by PBS, I can’t think of women designers he has featured. So in this six episode, half-hour series, in affiliation with Notre Dame’s traditional School of Architecture, that champions non-modernist architects, I was surprised to see the only woman, a Jewish woman, though she, and her husband Marc, are only identified as Jewish in the accompanying blog. While Baer mentions Brussels-born and trained Breitman-Jakov’s mother in passing, she pays tribute to her father, a modernist architect who preferred American suburbia to her preservationist bent; she proudly shows a book she produced of his work, and laughs about their arguments. She met her husband and architectural practice partner during their unsuccessful effort to preserve a working-class Parisian neighborhood, and they have since successfully applied classical architecture forms to what’s called in Europe “social housing”; examples are shown of their work in northern France and Amsterdam. I could find almost no additional information on her, other than that the couple received the school’s Driehaus Prize in 2018, when the program was produced. I hope to submit Nada Breitman-Jakov for inclusion in the Jewish Women’s Archive’s Encyclopedia. (7/30/2019- 4/21/2020)

Deutschland 86 (on Sundance Channel) Amidst international skulduggery while East Germany’s and South Africa’s governments are falling, in creator Anna Winger’s follow-up to her Deutschland 83 mini-series, the first Jewish women characterse appeared half-way. Radical ANC rebel/terrorist “Rose” (Florence Kasumba) meets with a German-Jewish family who had fled the Nazis for safe haven in South Africa, where they reconstructed the same villa, and now have returned to reclaim their house in the GDR, complete with menorah on the mantle. As much as she and her GDR spy lover “Leonora Rauch” (Maria Schrader) mock the Rosenbergs, frau and daughter (Eleonore Weisgerber and Deborah Kaufmann) for being bourgeois, including managing to have a black maid in the Communist country like “Rose”s family was for them in S. Africa, “Rose” asks them to sponsor her daughter “Tandi” to be safe with them when South Africa (due to her activities) gets violent, ironically. (11/18/2018)

We Will Meet Again – 2nd season (on PBS) Ann Curry’s tearjerker series of people searching for the one person who has haunted them as most significant in their lives featured an explicitly Jewish woman as the object of the search in the episode of Holocaust survivors. Ben Alalouf seeks the little girl who was his first friend in the U.S. when his family was with the only refugee group allowed into the U.S., from a ship in Naples in 1944 to an old Army base in Oswego, NY (as documented in Ruth Gruber’s Haven). He played with a girl he remembered only as “Seca”. The Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum curator figures out where his family stayed, who was adjacent with a young girl, and makes contact. Because “Seca” turns out to just mean “Sister”, her brother helps him find a very surprised Flora Friedman. Through the USC Shoah Foundation, the other survivor, Ben Lesser, connects with his friend’s daughter Osnet, at the kibbutz his like-a-brother founded, and he now considers her his niece. (11/29/2018)

In this season of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (on PBS) – Jewish guests included in the episode “Dreaming of A New Land” Facebook’s Sheryl “Lean In” Sandberg (whose DNA was the highest percentage of Ashkenazi Gates’ had seen on this series). She already knew a lot about her immediate female successful ancestors of whom she is very proud, but learned of the struggles of a widowed, poverty-stricken immigrant great-grandmother whose difficulties explained the behavior of a grandfather her family had shunned. [More commentary forthcoming] (2/3/2019)

Better Things – in the 3rd season (on FX) While Pamela Adlon’s character was haunted this season by her very Jewish father “Murray Fox” (Adam Kulbersh), she continually insists that her mother and daughters are not Jewish, including make everyone celebrate Easter. [Details forthcoming] (5/22/2019)

The Bold Type (on Freeform) in the 2nd season continues to be offensive in its lack of Jewish women in New York publishing, let alone that these Bright Young Things are rising surprisingly fast. The episode “OMG”, written by Neel Shah, exemplifies how this series bothers me. “Jane Sloan” (Katie Stevens) is leery of dating a cute dedicated doctor who turns out to be: religious. Like he prayed before we ate. You don’t see that around New York. Roommate “Sutton Brady” (Meghann Fahey): But you’ve dated religious guys before, remember the one from Park Slope, made his own pickles, Jewish? Josh? “Jane”: Yeah but in New York Judaism is like a lifestyle choice. “Kat Edison” (Aisha Dee), their black/mixed race lesbian roommate dating a devout Muslim: Veganism is a lifestyle choice. Judaism is definitely still a religion. (6/27/2018)

The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 6th season (on ABC) (I detest this sit com so much that I couldn’t bring myself to finish watching even the 2nd season, so I’m not goint to waste my time watching the didn’t-deserve-to-be-renewed 5th season. While I could even now catch it more frequently in syndication, I’ll probably have to end up buying the complete series on DVD to do a complete review with episode-by-episode documentation of its clichés.) (10/18/2018)

Miriam “Midge” Maisel etc. –in 2nd season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (on Amazon) I’m looking forward to streaming – and commenting on -- the first season first. (12/5/2018)

Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 5th Season (on Netflix) Whoops – Season 5 began streaming January 2018 before I even got a chance to watch S1 yet to comment on Lily Tomlin’s portrayal of the Jewish woman character. (12/5/2018)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Rebecca Bunch, her mother, and others in their 4th season (on CW) The 7th episode, “I Will Help You”, written by Aline Brosh McKenna was the big “Jewish” episode of this final season, revolving, as usual, around her mother (still played by Tovah Feldshuh), with a cameo surprise appearance by Elayne Boosler. (updated 2/2/2019)

Felicity Smoak in the 7th season of Arrow (on CW) – While the series has been renewed for and 8th and final season, Emily Bett Rickards announced this will be her last season as “Felicity”. Unfortunately, in the odd time-travel twists of the season, her daughter “Mia Smoak” aka “Blackstar” (played by Katherine McNamara) seems to have zero sense of any Jewish identity, but she dealing with an apocalypse at the least. (5/22/2019)

Will & Grace – Grace Adler in the 10th season (on NBC) (I’m still catching up) (10/18/2018)

High Maintenance (on HBO) On “Derech”, written by series creator and star Ben Sinclair, Shabbos dinner with ex or soon-to-be ex Hasids in Williamsburg included a lesbian couple, at least one who still lives with a husband and children at other times, as well as possibly another, now punk looking young woman. (12/7/2018)

Suits (on USA) “Lewis Litt”s sister “Esther Litt Adelstein ” (Amy Acker) made a brief return. [Discussion of Jewish identity in reference to possibly having a child in a mixed relationship to be described.] Then there’s his fiancee’s stereotyped comments about their Jewish mother to be added. (updated 9/22/2018)

Good Trouble - Emma Kurtzman (on Freeform) In this spin-off of the completed The Fosters that presumes the characters are now a couple of years past college graduation and living in L.A., this young Jewish woman will be guesting on at least one episode. (7/19/2018)

Claws (on TNT) In “Vaginalogist” episode, written by Emily Silver, “Dr. Ken Brickman” (Jason Antoon) introduces a surprise visitor his mother “Marilyn” (Jade Hykush), with a gravely voice, to “Polly” (Carrie Preston) and her newly Muslim daughter “Marnie” (Morgan Lily) with her Black Muslim boyfriend: I figured it was time we all sat for a Shabbat dinner so I get to know you and my new granddaughter. “Marilyn” finishes the kiddush and asks if anyone wants to add a blessing. “Polly” starts to do a Baptist one she claims her daddy did, but she knocks over the Shabbat candles. When mother and daughter can’t agree on anything, “Marilyn” pulls “Polly” aside who insisted they “just need girl time together”: The therapist in me is telling me that’s not what it’s really about. …It’s easy to lie to ourselves, isn’t it? Means we don’t have to face what’s really there. …If you want any chance of connecting with that child you need to figure it out. Theres something going on inside you, I can see it. (7/13/2018)

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – Abigail McCarthy plus in the 5th Season (on Bravo) As “Abby” (Lisa Edelstein) got less and less Jewish each season, her friend “Jo” for “Josephine” (Alanna Ubach) was explicitly identified as Jewish in “Rule #149: Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow”, written by Ilene Rosenzweig, through her mother-in-law from hell “Meryl Frumpkis” (played by Taila Shire). By the last episode of the series, with its not particularly credible jump by four years, the only Jewish reference is to “Jo”. (Details forthcoming) (updated 7/22/2018)

The/Le Tunnel – Elise Wassermann in the 3rd season (on PBS/originally a Sky Atlantic/Canal + co-production) In this last season of the series titled “Vengeance”, she did not seem to remember she was Jewish, but she had more immediate crises. (updated 9/22/2018)

X Company – 2nd & 3rd seasons (Canadian series shown in U.S. on Ovation) In a series taking place in France during the round-up of Jews during World War II, Jewish women in both Seasons 1 and 2 have been barely visible, but a couple got to speak this season, while fleeing. But in “Last Man, Last Round”, written by Sandra Chwialkowska, I thought “Miri” (Sara Garcia) was really “Miriam”, a putative Jewish woman nuns were hiding in a convent. But, darn, I should have guessed that the season went on she was so freely passionate with hunk “Neil McKay” (Warren Brown) and as good a shot as she was from hunting with her dad, she explicitly described herself as Roma in “La verite Vous rendra libre”, written by Adam Barken, well, sarcastically as “a dirty Gypsy”, then describes the Nazis’ massacre of her family in detail, so I can’t be mad at her. (updated 10/18/2018)

Younger – Lauren Heller plus in the 5th season (on TV Land) “Lauren” (played by Molly Bernard)

Israeli TV series that I presume include Jewish women characters - Around January 2019, Netflix starting showing several popular Israeli TV series in the U.S., that I haven’t yet caught up with: Fauda, When Heroes Fly, Shtisel, Hashoter Hatov (The Good Cop), Hostages (B’nei Arubah), and Mossad 101. I don’t subscribe to Hulu, which is carrying several Israeli TV series, but I’ve read that Amazon Prime is also streaming Israeli TV series in the U.S., though I haven’t tried to watch them yet: , Mekimi, Srugim, and A Touch Away.

2017/2018 Season

Sheila Nevins, the outgoing head of HBO Documentaries, was all over TV late spring and summer promoting her memoir You Don’t Look Your Age…and Other Fairy Tales (Flatiron Books), each time saying the same story in every interview. That in college, she was dating a non-Jewish boyfriend. When she met his family, his mother asked: Aren't there Jewish boys in the law school for you?” She was particularly surprised because her Jewish identity consisted of a mother who was a Communist and a father who worked in the Post Office, so she said she really didn't really think about it, but she knew they were Jewish “and I hated her”. She’s always found that comment “inspiring”. (1/27/2018)

On The Spectrum at 2018 Tribeca Film Festival) (Indie Pilot of Israeli TV series pitched to several American networks that’s been winning awards at other festivals) (updated 7/4/2018)

In the excellent streaming bio-doc series Under Her Skin (previewed at 2018 Tribeca Film Festival): Linda Friedman-Schmidt is the only Jewish-identified woman artist (Episode 5). Directors/sisters Rémy Bennett and Kelsey Bennett smoothly integrate the horrific archival footage of the Holocaust and Displaced Persons camps, like the one where the artist was born as Lonia, with the artist describing her survivor parents, how her father physically and emotionally abused his wife and his daughter, and how her life has been dedicated to proving her worth against his criticisms. Mixed with family photographs, she proudly describes how she became Henri Bendel’s best shoe saleswoman, but then went on to own a fancy shoe store nearby she called “Lonia”, and bought the building above it, too. Her artistic medium is emotionally resonant discarded clothes that she sorts by color, then cuts into strips for weaving into empathetic portraits. Though the sisters’ camera focuses too much on a portrait of an ultra-Orthodox man (perhaps presuming he’s like her father), her work on trauma and celebration is revealed through diverse faces, including many self-portraits to counter her parents’ silence about their pasts. (5/25/2018)

Genius: Picasso – Gertrude Stein (on National Geographic Channel) As portrayed by Tracee Chimo, she shows up in the life of Pablo Picasso (at this age portrayed by Alex Rich), in Episode Five, written by Noah Pink, in the Paris of 1905, as an art collector in concert with her brother Leo (Iddo Goldberg). The extensive sequence of their interchange is delightful while he paints her portrait, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection. (Quotes forthcoming) (7/3/2018)

The Tale - In the autobiographical movie on HBO about child sexual abuse by a trusted coach, written and directed by Jennifer Fox (including confessional clips from her documentary Flying: Confessions Of A Free Woman), Laura Dern plays her as an adult, and Ellen Burstyn as her mother Hettie. [commentary forthcoming] (6/3/2018)

Scandal in the series finale “Over A Cliff”, written by executive producer Shonda Rimes, there was of course a crack about a Jewish woman, as is typical of her series that almost never feature a positive or unstereotyped Jewish woman character. As the “gladiators” face possible prison, “Abby Whelan” (Darby Stanchfield) cracks to the Jewish attorney general “David Rosen” (Joshua Malina): And one day, I'll read you married Jennifer, a nice Jewish girl your nana just loves. Later in bed, he assures as she looks forward to immediate arrest: I will wait for you. I will never marry a nice Jewish girl named Jennifer. I will wait as long as it takes. And then she mourns that the one good guy left is killed off. At least she put a stone on his headstone, if we’re supposed to think a year has gone by. (5/19/2018)

Artful Detective a.k.a. Murdoch’s Mysteries (Canadian series shown in U.S. on Ovation) In the episode “Murdoch Schmurdoch” (shown in Canada in February; in the U.S. in May), Jewish men are featured, and Jewish women appear very briefly, within a plot twist. [commentary forthcoming] (6/3/2018)

The Good Doctor, in the first season penultimate episode “Smile”, written by David Hoselton & Karen Struck, also had a gratuitious crack about a Jewish woman. The central Aspergers surgeon “Shaun Murphy” (Freddie Highmore) attempts to understand human relationships by cheering up his brain-turmor-facing mentor “Aaron Glassmore” (Richard Schiff), evidently the only Jewish doctor in San Jose, CA let alone in a series that promotes its diverse casting. “Shaun” gleefully pushes the mentor to meet the cafeteria’s barista “Debbie” (played by Sheila Kelley, reported to be Schiff’s real-life significant other) because he thinks their both Jewish. They sit down awkwardly together. She: Um, do anything exciting for Purim?. He: Uh, no. Purim. Yeah you know, the usual. Ate a little matzah, and celebrated our "Exodus from slavery" which I think is Passover and not Purim. The truth of the matter is, I'm only half Jewish, so only half the knowledge. She: The truth is I'm not Jewish at all. Yeah, my first husband was. -- though I can’t find what her last name is that’s supposed to sound Jewish. He: So I guess we have our lack of Jewishness in common. (5/22/2018)

Difficult People - I haven’t watched because I don’t pay for Hulu.

In Bold Type (on FreeForm), a summer series over-hyped as the best representation of millenials on TV but set in a New York City magazine world devoid of Jewish women, “The Breast Issue” episode, written by Matt McGuinness, admirably focused on how young women face testing for the BRCA gene if they have a family history of breast cancer, did not at all mention that Jewish women are more likely to have this gene and therefore are more likely to have to consider their options. (8/9/2017)

In the summer thriller series Salvation (on CBS) the penultimate episode “The Wormwood Prophecy”, written by Blake Taylor and Christina Walker, had a sudden, convenient reveal. After “President Pauline McKenzie” (played by Tovah Feldshuh) has a fatal cerebral hemorrhage during a nationally broadcast speech, her long-time personal physician “Dr. Michele Rasmussen” (played by Tara Nicodemo) tells suspicious “Secretary of Defense Harris Edwards” (played by Ian Anthony Dale) why there was no autopsy: President McKenzie’s maternal family were observant Jews. Jewish law forbids anything that desecrates the corpse. The body disappeared when he attempted to exhume it to check for poison anyway – because she’s ill but still alive! Doctor: I’m sorry, Mr. Secretary, I didn’t know who I could trust. ..Mercury…She’s not out of the woods yet. She recovers and beats back the coup! (10/4/2017)

On Brooklyn Nine-Nine (on Fox), the “Kicks” episode, written by Andrew Guest, Andy Samberg’s “Det. Jake Peralta” specifically referenced his Jewish mom, in selecting a Passover brisket as a food he was yearning for when he was undercover in prison “because I love my mom.” Maybe I’ve missed previous mentions. (11/13/2017)

In Season 3 of Playing House, the “Ride the Dragon” episode, written by Vera Santamaria, revealed that recurring character nicknamed “Bird Bones” (played by Lindsay Sloane) is really named “Tina Steigerman” and may be Jewish. When the old high school friends have a sleep-over high on medical marijuana, she enacts, with a pretend babushka, The year was 1941. The Nazis had just invaded Russia. My grandmother, Illyana Federovna, had to flee…She only took with her two possessions: the recipe for this fudge, and a batch that she had sewn into the lining of her tattered shawl. This pocket fudge is what kept her alive on her tumultuous journey to America. The girlfriends are open-mouthed impressed. She laughs: I'm just messing with you guys. I heard that story on Rachel Zoe's "Who Do You Think You Are?" I can’t find confirmation that the celebrity stylist née Rosenzweig was ever on that genealogy show. She ends up gaining from that night a boyfriend and partnership in their event-planning business, which she does well in the next episode. (7/27/2017)

A Christmas Story Live! What started as Jean Shepherd’s collection of his radio stories In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, became an evergreen 1983 TV movie, a Broadway musical, then adapted into this TV musical, with new songs. This new racially and ethnically expanded version of a 1950’s Indiana town adds the main character’s friend’s “Schwartz”s family, particularly his mother, played dazzlingly by auburn-haired Ana Gesteyer, who got a new, and the best, song “In the Market for a Miracle”, which brings in the extended Schwartz clan, and friends, singing and dancing; they are more spirited than the rest of the show. (Words and music by Jonathan Tolins and Benj Pasek garnered an Emmy nomination.) As quoted in Entertainment Weekly, “Writers Robert Cary and Tolins: ‘We watched the original movie and we saw that there was this issue that Ralphie blames his friend Schwartz for something and we wanted to know ‘Where does that go?’ He never dealt with his friend, and that led to us coming up with this Hanukkah song, so that’s exciting that we’re adding new things to the world of A Christmas Story.” Gasteyer: “Basically the telecast required one more number because of the way the commercials were paced, so they looked at the piece overall, and they decided there would be a really great moment for a Hanukkah number… The show didn’t have a Hanukkah number and so they called me up and said, ‘Hey listen, we’re thinking about writing a Hanukkah number and we’d like to write it for you, and can we do that?’ And I said, ‘Why yes, why thank you!’” The song was developed with her to emphasize her jazzy strengths as a belter. While she gets to sprinkle some Yiddish words throughout, the family has Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant, where she announces: Next we’re going to the movies! (1/27/2018; updated 7/12/2018)

Preacher – Dany in the 2nd Season (on AMC) – In the “Dallas” episode, written by Philip Buiser, crime boss “Dany” (played by Julie Dretzin) is identified as Jewish, though I don’t recall that implication in her one appearance in Season 1’s “Possibilities”. “Tulip” (played by Ruth Negga) has been trying to live a conventional life with “Jesse Custer” (played by Dominic Cooper), but considers resuming her career as a hitwoman, with some cross-over to the original graphic novels by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. “Dany” goes through possible jobs, sneaking in: There's a Jew bastard down in Houston--. “Tulip” immediately stops her: We are not killing your husband, Dany. “Tulip” tries serving a nice dinner, featuring peanut-butter pot roast. “Dany” declines to eat that and “Tulip” is a concerned hostess: Sorry is that a Jewish thing? “Dany”: No, it’s human thing. (7/19/2017)

Claws (on TNT) In a very Elmore Leonard/Carl Hiaisen-type Florida, “Dr. Ken Brickman” (played by Jason Antoon) at a clinic that’s just a cover for peddling drugs, had been grieving over his divorce. In “Fallout” written by Janine Sherman Barrois, it’s revealed that he and his re-marrying ex-wife are both Jewish: Shelley was the only Jewish girl I could find who was freaky. Cupping freaky. S & M kind of freaky. I can’t even come with anyone else. He talks to her photo: I'll just go on J-date and I'll find myself another freaky Jewish girl. You can't be the only one. He works himself into a frenzy: When I first met Shelly, we were with Habitat for Humanity, building a house for the underprivileged. And when I saw her next, I'd just finished a triathlon with a sprained ankle. But Shelly still let me buy her a drink, and at that moment, I knew she was special. He crashes her wedding and hears her new guy call her “special”: "Special"? If you thought she was special, why'd you take her bike-riding while wearing a fanny pack? What dignified man does that? “Shelly” (played by Brittany Wilkerson): Ken, don't you do this! “Ken”: I'm trying to save you, Shelly! “Shelly”: You're a loser and a fake. “Ken”: Huh? How could you give this up, Shelly? You don't want to live a life of missionary boredom. You're not that kind of Jew. You and I are freaks, baby! and you will see what I mean That Ken doll's never gonna make you squirt! It isn't a dream Never gonna make you squirt! I love you! He’s dragged away screaming. (7/9/2017)

Nazi Fugitives- The WW2-obsessed American Heroes Channel re-lives World War II constantly, usually re-edited international programs, but through all its fascination with docu-series re-enactments of Hitler and Nazis, (S1, Ep 3) “Erich Priebke” may have been the first where a Jewish woman was not seen as a victim. In re-telling the story of how ABC News in 1994 tracked down two Nazi war criminals hiding out in plain sight in Bariloche, Argentina, (a place fictionalized in The German Doctor (Wakolda)), Sam Donaldson was the on-air reporter, but News Producer Harry Phillips hired Dalila Herbst as a translator, fixer, and researcher, to follow-up on a tip from The Simon Wiesenthal Center. As she proudly describes how she found the clues to and identified the #2 Gestapo officer wanted for brutal atrocities in Rome, she emotionally adds: “As an Argentine Jew”, she felt we finally got one. (6/8/2017)

The Alienist (on TNT) While it’s been years since I read the Caleb Carr novel this series is based on for comparison, in the 2nd episode, “A Fruitful Partnership”, teleplay by Hossein Amini and E. Max Frye, is briefly seen the Lower East Side-living senile mother (played by Laurel Lefkow) of the Isaacson Detectives “Marcus” (played by Douglas Smith) and “Lucius” (played by Matthew Shear) on the NY police force, led in 1896 by Theodore Roosevelt. They, probably with foreshadowing, warn her to blow out the candles; she protests it’s Shabbat, though they gently correct her it is not. Later, “Marcus” attends a Socialist Workers meeting. A young woman taking notes eyes him – and next he’s shtupping her hot & heavy in a bed. After, he asks her name: “Esther” (played by Daisy Bevan). He: Nice to meet you. She grins as he leaves. (1/31/2018)

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders (on NBC) In this limited series, the real-life lawyer Leslie Abramson (played as tough and aggressive, yet maternal, by Edie Falco) is a putative Jew until she gets to her estranged mother’s funeral in a Jewish cemetery, where her father and a neighbor critical of her defense of the patricidal/matricidal brothers are wearing yarmulkes. Not until Episode 7, written by Diana Son, is there another reference to her Jewish heritage. Abramson tells her new co-counsel for the re-trial, played by Harry Hamlin: Listen my grandmother was from Russia. When I was a little, she told me how the Nazis wiped out our people. My people! Just rolled over them! I don’t want to get rolled over! Not by anybody. I will find a way to pay for it…Tim and I talked about a second mortgage, I got a book offer… Then she gets a call from the judge about his reconsideration of her request: I am now the court-appointed attorney at half my normal rate. I am now the cheapest famous lawyer in the world. As she has to do more TV interviews challenging the D.A., her husband (played by Chris Bauer) assures her: I’m proud that now everybody can see what a smart woman I married. (updated 1/23/2018)

Knightfall (on History Channel) The first 14th century Jewish women on TV? At least in the first episode, “You’d Know What To Do”, written by Don Handfield and Richard Raynor, the Jews managed to survive an attack from the Crusaders, first in Acre in the Holy Land, then from thugs Paris, France sent by the King to get their money, thanks to the intervention of the Knights Templar, as led by the hunky “Landy” (played by Tom Cullen). The only identified Jewish girl was “Adelina” (played as a young child by Sofia Marangoni, as a teen by Sarah-Sofie Boussnina), who picks up a weapon and fights back against their attackers alongside the knights.
”Adelina” returned in the 3rd episode “The Black Wolf and the White Wolf”, written by Dominic Minghella, to outsmart Templars in training, particularly young “Parsifal” (played by Bobby Schofield), whose wife had been brutally murdered. He gets mad when distributing bread to the poor: Hey, one to a man! Hey! Stop that! You thieving little tinker. She, as her male disguise is revealed: No! I'm feeding the poor, just like you, monk.. He: I'm not a monk yet. She kicks him in the groin: You haven't taken your vows of chastity? That must mean you still have your balls. He chases her, but she disappears down a trap door. Later, she resists a warning: If the King's guards catch you, they'll cut off your hands and hang you. She: If they hang me, I'm not going to miss my hands, am I? “Parsifal” catches her robbery attempt: If you leave now, I won't tell. She: I'll be going then. He: Give back the purse. She: These coins could feed a family for a week. He: What family? She: I'm feeding the people the King expelled, Jews he forced to leave with nothing. You wouldn't understand. This is for them, not for me. I didn't know monks wore jewelry. It matches your eyes. She grabs his wife’s necklace. He: I told you I wasn't a monk yet. Give me the purse. She escapes back to her supervisor. You're late. She: There were complications. He: Sounds like you didn't do your job. She: I did my job. He: Then where's the boy Parsifal? She:You'll have him soon. He: What's that? It's worthless. She: Not to the boy. He'll be back for it. And when he comes, he's yours. (updated 1/27/2018)
A Jewish woman cameod in another historical series: Gunpowder, HBO mini-series set in the early 17th century, Robert Catesby (played by his descendant and executive producer Kit Harington) in the second episode, written by Ronan Bennett and Daniel West, meets with the Constable of Castile (Pedro Casablanc) to get Spain to protect the Catholics in England being persecuted by King James I. However, he asks about the burning of a screaming “heretic” (Yolanda Calzado): To protect the true faith. She’s a Jew. Those who do not confess die by fire. Spain protects the faithful in her own land. Wisely, the British conspirator seems to decide not to trust Spain. (updated 12/20/2017)

Veep – Shawnee Tanz in the 6th season (on HBO) The “Tanz”s are satires of the billionaire casino owner turned Israeli fawning to Bibi media mogul Sheldon Adelson and his younger second wife Miriam, portrayed here as his ambitious daughter (“Sherman” is played by Jonathan Hadary, “Shawnee” by Mary Holland,). Commentary forthcoming from years-later catching up with this work of my Emmy-awarded showrunner second cousin once removed David Mandel, who I’ve never met and he’s never responded to any of my Rosh ha Shanah cards or other family outreach. (10/27/2023)

Will & Grace – Grace Adler in the 9th season (on NBC) Almost picking up where it tiredly left off in May 2006, the gang is back with a few updates in their lives. However, there wasn’t even a reference to “Grace” (Debra Messing) being Jewish until the 6th episode, “Rosario's Quinceanera”, written by Tracy Poust and Jon Kinnaly, when “Will” (Eric McCormack) reminds her about another funeral: You sat shiva for Jerry Lewis. “Grace”: He was very important to my family Will! We named our dog Lady just so we could go ‘Laaaady!’ She was a very exaggerated Jewish woman in the next, satirical “A Gay Olde Christmas”, written by John Quaintance, when they run into a parody version of Lower East Side Tenement Museum so “Grace” can use the bathroom. They magically enter into “Olde New York” (that’s also a parody of Once Upon A Sesame Street Christmas). With a heavy New York accent, she turns into “Fanny”, the wife of the closeted landlord played by “Will”: No one likes a funny girl, Fanny. I have a family to evict. She: No you don’t! It’s Christmas, and Hanukkah. Husband: Fanny you converted, so stop mentioning Hanukkah. -- she corrects his lack of “kh”. She sympathizes with the Irish immigrant family, led by Megan Mullally: Look, I know it's tough being an immigrant. Irish, Italian, Jews. No picnic being women, either. But this country is built on letting more people enjoy its great freedoms, not keeping people down. It may take longer than it should, but we always get it right, eventually. When the group gets back to 2017, the curator, played by Brian Posehn, updates: Fanny was the first woman to vote in NY – and the first woman killed for voting in NY.
Surprisingly, on Variety: Actors on Acting, in the summer promotion for Emmy nominations, Sharon Stone compliments Debra Messing on her series’ return 11 years later: You’re more Jewish. -- at least in the last few episodes of the season - forthcoming. (updated 10/18/2018)

Madam Secretary – Nadine Tolliver in the 4th season (on CBS) Halfway through the series, actress Bebe Neuwirth asked the executive producer to leave the series; the story line in her last episode “The Essentials”, written by Matt Ward, had “Nadine” choosing to leave Foggy Bottom in order to spend time with her son “Roman” (Ethan Peck) and his Vietnamese girlfriend, because he Skyped her to tell her that they were expecting a baby, he loved his mother – and needed help to get the girlfriend expeditiously off the “no fly” list due to mistaken identity. This provided multiple opportunities to have Jewish references, but the series seemed to have forgotten she’s Jewish. (11/24/2017)

A French Village (Un Village Français) – 6th and 7th seasons (Shown in the U.S. on MHz Choice, Season 6 is 1945 on DVD, 6 episodes; Season 7 completes the series in 6 episodes on DVD – but I may be streaming if I get caught up.) (1/26/2018). (1/26/2018)

Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein in the 4th Season (on Netflix) Whoops – Season 4 began streaming January 2018 before I even got a chance to watch S1 yet to comment on Lily Tomlin’s portrayal of the Jewish woman character. (1/26/2018)

The Collection (originally on Amazon Prime and BBC, broadcast this season on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater) Amidst the many secrets the employees and others around a Parisian fashion house in 1947, halfway through the season in “The Weekend”, co-written by series creator Oliver Goldstick, new model “Nina” (Belgian-French actress Jenna Thiam, right below, played the same role in the French version) confesses to a smitten American photographer “Billy Novak” (Max Deacon) that she and her seamstress mother “Marianne” (played by French–Swiss actress Irène Jacob, left below) were protected during the war by the head of the house “Paul Sabine” (played by Richard Coyle) who is being investigated by a reporter for collaboration with the Germans: Have you ever missed a meal? Gone to bed not knowing if the person you said good night to may not be there in the morning?...Nothing's fair. If it weren't for Monsieur Sabine, my mother and I wouldn't even be here. The papers he bought for us kept us from going to a place where nobody came back. That's his crime, Billy. You'd be surprised how many laws you have to break just to survive. “Billy”: Nina, I I had no idea you and your mother were Jewish. “Nina”: Then it worked. You wear the mask long enough, it becomes your face. I'm sorry to disappoint you. “Billy”: I'm not disappointed. I want to know more. I want you to trust me enough to tell me everything. “Nina”: You can't capture it all in a picture, Billy.

A British critic/re-capper commented about this reveal when it was shown on BBC February 2017: “It wasn't until this moment I realized her mother was cast to look Jewish.” That’s odd because French TV and movies portray Jewish women as auburn-haired, like “Nina”, and Jacob is a renowned art-film legend not at all associated with portraying Jewish women.
In the next episode “The Betrayal”, written by Goldstick & Francesca Rollins, the mother tells “Billy” it’s time to stop telling secrets. She looks herself in the mirror and takes off her necklace cross. “Nina” also confesses to the only somewhat closeted gay brother, and the actual clothes designer for the house, “Claude Sabine” (Tom Ridley), who she naively is still in love with, resulted in a baby she had to give to nuns to put up for adoption, but needs his involvement to at least see the child. (11/13/2017)

Better Things (on FX) - In the 2nd season, 5th episode “Phil” (ostensibly written by Louis C.K., but his name was removed from the credits in November 2017), there was background information on how “Sam Fox” (co-creator Pamela Adlon) is Jewish. Her mother “Phyllis” (played by the British star Celia Imrie) is playing cards with diverse friends, in the house across the street, complaining about the daughter she loves: She’s a stuck up little pig. She’s got her fucking father’s Jewish features. If I had known I was going to have to stare into his face long after he died I would never have had her…How crude she is. . .She couldn’t even hold on to a husband, a sweet boy of Northern extraction. She claimed to be closest with her youngest granddaughter: Don’t repeat the mistakes of all the females in our family. . I’m going to tell you the worst of it., whispers in her ear to the girl’s shock. (11/20/2017)
The/Le Tunnel – Elise Wassermann in the 2nd season (on PBS/originally a Sky Atlantic/Canal + co-production) The series did not remember that she was Jewish in this season titled “Sabotage”. (updated 9/8/2017)

Apt JKL – Judy plus in the 1st season (on CBS) -- I detested even the first episode of this sit com so much that I couldn’t bring myself to bother watching any other episode, even though it was co-created by star Mark Feuerstein and Dana Klein, and co-stars Linda Lavin as his mother “Judy”. Other Jewish women characters doubtless appear in the series, but it’s just not even worth my time to criticize it. (11/13/2017)

The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 5th season (on ABC) (I detest this sit com so much that I couldn’t bring myself to finish watching even the 2nd season, so I’m not goint to waste my time watching the didn’t-deserve-to-be-renewed 5th season. While I could even now catch it more frequently in syndication, I’ll probably have to end up buying the complete series on DVD to do a complete review with episode-by-episode documentation of its clichés.) (10/5/2017)

In this season of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (on PBS) – the October episode “The Impression” with Larry David and Bernie Sanders included their reflections on their mothers and grandmothers with the great frustration that they had not told them of their pasts or family.
Just before this was broadcast in the U.S., the original BBC version of Who Do You Think You Are, two episodes featured celebrities seeking how Jewish women relative fared during the Holocaust, Jane Seymour (one aunt survived by fleeing from Berlin to Paris to Marseilles and finally illegally to Geneva, while the other joined her in 1946 after escaping the Warsaw Ghetto in the nick of time, but succumbed to suicidal despair from losing everyone else – and we’re not shown if Seymour tried to find her Swiss-based family members), and comedienne Ruby Wax seeks to find out if the Holocaust drove her mother crazy or if her own struggles with mental illness run in the family – and finds generations of “aggravation” among her women relatives.) (updated 12/30/2020)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Rebecca Bunch, her mother, and others in their 3rd season (on CW) Early episodes only mentioned being Jewish in passing: in the “Josh’s Ex-Girlfriend Wants Revenge” season opener “Rebecca” (Rachel Bloom, also the co-writer and lyricist) describes herself in a song as the Jewish chick who got dumped by the ripped Filipino. Next, in “To Josh With Love”: she sings “Strip Away My Conscience””, lyrics by Bloom, in lingerie and Fosse-like dance moves to her boss “Nathaniel Plimpton III” (Scott Michael Foster) Tear away my Jew-guilt… it’s worth the discomfort of my thong… Strip it all away.
”I Never Want to See Josh Again”, written by Stuart McDonald, is pretty vicious about a Jewish mother, even if attributable that “Rebecca” is suicidal and going through a mental breakdown. First her co-workers are missing her in their California office. “Darryl” (Pete Gardner) hopes her replacement will be: like Rebecca, all pretty and cheery and Jewy? You know what I mean. Smart, and a little sneaky. That did not come out right. I am not a bigot. I just I talk too much, like a Jew. Oh, no. I hope she's a strong, contemporary thigh-high feminist like me and Rebecca, you know what I mean. But she’s back home with her mother “Naomi” (Tovah Feldshuh) in Scarsdale, seemingly getting along fabulously, what with mom making her milkshakes and popcorn, such that “Rebecca” sings, a la The Ronettes lyrics by Bloom, “Maybe She's Not Such a Heinous Bitch After All”, with the first verse: I still hate her, don't get me wrong. Really hate her, genuinely hate her. But it's more like the way normal girls hate their moms. Every daughter kinda hates their mom. All I ever prayed for every day was to resent my mother in a regular way. 2nd verse includes: Maybe old age has tamed this witch And made her a doll. But like one of those evil, haunted dolls. She's being so nice, it fills my soul. For once I don't want her to have a cancerous mole. On to: When we're finding a mate. It's our parents we're thinking of. Thinking of my relationship with her was my first failed romance. And now finally the cute boy's asking me to dance. But her competitive friend “Audra Levine” (Rachel Grate) comes to pay a sick call with a taco casserole: Hear you haven't been doing so good. God, busted wedding, and now you're here with your awful mother ugh! You must just want to die. “Rebecca”, defensively: Because my mother and I are getting along very well. “Audra” scoffs: Getting along with Naomi? (scoffs) Where's her body? “Rebecca”: Audra, it's Twister. My mother and I are about to play a trust-building game of physical skill and fun. Everything's different now. My mother accepts me. “Audra”: Yeah, right. Of course. 'Cause what do opinionated Jewish mothers do when they turn 60? They change. Tell me, what did you do to earn this miraculous acceptance from your mother? I'm curious. “Rebecca”: Well, I got sad and came home, and refused to shower, and stayed up all night, and she felt sad for me, and now she's taking care of me. “Audra”: Yeah, you're a smart girl. That doesn't make any sense. “Naomi” comes in with air kissing greetings: Will you be staying for some board games and some ice cream, honey? “Audra”: Okay, I don't know what this is, but it's scary. And I'm not sticking around for the murder-Sui…Rebecca, she's up to something. And if you don't know what it is, then it's working., and she leaves. “Naomi”: What a bitch. Up to something? You know what I'm up to? I'm up to whuppin' your tuchus in that game. That's what I'm up to. And before we start, you need some fuel. How about another shake, stat? Rebecca starts feverishly doing an internet search, and looks through drawers – finding pills that are the same color as the shakes her mom has been blending in: You've been drugging me! Oh, this makes so much sense, of course. Of course you didn't change. The only reason I was feeling better is 'cause you gave me these drugs that blitzed me out and made my ears buzz. Mom: I had no choice. I saw all your websites. Your suicide websites. I had to do something. She: So you gave me medication without my consent? Mom: Lest you forget, young lady, we have been through this before. That suicide attempt in college, and then you tried to burn down someone's house. And each time, you refused help, so, yes, yes, I decided to give you some of the anxiety pills that the doctor gave me for the High Holidays. I just wanted to calm you down so we could talk and I could convince you to go away somewhere. She: Commit me? - (clicks tongue) I'm sorry, you wanted to commit me? That is such a dramatic word. You made me think that you loved me. You gave me hope when I had none. And now that hope is gone. Mom: I do love you. I'm just trying to help you. Mom: Help? You were never any help. She storms out, downs out the bottle of pills while on a plane to L.A., but is saved by asking the flight attendant for help. In the next episode “Josh Is Irrelevant”, written by Bloom, McKenna and Ilana Peña, she describes how having her stomach pumped feels: It was as if six months of college bulimia happened in one day. Her best friend “Paul Proctor” (Donna Lynne Champlin), who is being very mother-like: You’re still sassy!

Miriam “Midge” Maisel etc. –in 1st season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (on Amazon) I’m looking forward to streaming – and commenting on -- the whole season! (1/26/2018)

Felicity Smoak in the 6th season of Arrow (on CW) This season not only remembered she was Jewish, amidst turning down a wedding proposal from “Oliver Queen”, in a 4-episode, “Sweeps Week”, “cross-over event” with the other DC Comics-based CW series (The Flash, SuperGirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow) called: “Crisis On Earth-X”, story by Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg (since fired for sexual harassment in the #MeToo wave), with different writers for each show’s episode. All time travel/sci fi TV series have a Nazi episode, usually of a “what if?” theme, but not usually with a Jewish main character suffering. Here, the Nazis won in an alternate universe, and the Aryan-looking Super Heroes “Green Arrow” and “SuperGirl” (Melissa Benoist) have Nazi doppelgängers who are married (and torn between their love and devotion to The Fatherland). As Our Heroes try to save Earth-X, “Felicity”s doppelgänger (also Emily Bett Rickards) is imprisoned in a concentration camp: In Part 3, written by Flash’s showrunner Todd Helbing, the camp commander (who is Paul Blackthorne as also a doppelgänger) presents her to “Oliver” who is pretending to be his doppelgänger “Dark Arrow”: I know how much you enjoy executing rule breakers and this one has broke many of them. We discovered there’s a Jewess handing her rations to the work camp children, strictly against camp rules of course…I know this must be hard. I heard your doppelgänger on earth once loved a woman who looks just like this. “Felicity”s doppelgänger protests: Those children were starving! “Oliver” fights the commander and tells her to escape: It’s the strong’s duty to protect the weak…Go! In Part 4, written by Legends’ showrunner Phil Klemmer and Keto Shimizu, the real “Felicity” protects “OverGirl”, SuperGirl’s doppelgänger, from this world’s version of Dr. Mengele, fiercely albeit naively: My grandparents didn’t survive the Holocaust so that the world could be ruled by Nazis. So if you want Kara, you have to go through me. And even if you do, you won’t win, because we won’t back down, we’ll keep on fighting. So get the hell off our earth while you can. (I think I have all the doppelgängers right, as I was multitasking.) By the end, they are so grateful to be alive and back on Earth-1 that “Oliver” agrees they can be together without being married, as she said she wanted (out of fear of a terrible fate), but she proposes to him. He: I thought you didn’t believe in marriage. She: I believe in you. And I believe that no matter what life throws at us, our love can conquer it, married, not married, I love you. My greatest fear in life is losing you. They are married by their friend “John Diggle” (David Ramsey) as a civil officiant, in a double marriage with “The Flash” and his long-suffering girlfriend.
In “Irreconcilable Differences”, written by Beth Schwartz & Sarah Tarkoff, her mother “Donna” (Charlotte Ross) comes to the belated wedding reception to give “Oliver a hug. Welcome to the family…I have forgiven you both for running off and eloping and waiting to propose to my daughter until you were under indictment. “Oliver”: Actually Felicity proposed to me. Mom: She continues the tradition of Smoak women not having traditional weddings. Dad “Noah Kuttler” (Tom Amandes): What do you mean? We had a traditional wedding. Mom: No, getting married by a Tom Jones impersonating rabbi isn’t exactly traditonal. .. At least we had a Jewish wedding. Really you guys, would it have killed you to get a rabbi? Why not a chuppah? The couple manage to get away. Felicity: If you’re having second thoughts, too late for you! He: I wouldn’t hav it any other way. She: You really do love me. They kiss and all the guests cheer. Dad watches them dance: Thanks for letting me back in her life. Mom: I was wrong to tell you to stay away. And just for the record I think Tom Jones is pretty good. (1/26/2018)

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – Abigail McCarthy in the 4th Season (on Bravo) In the 2nd episode of the season, “Rule #10: Just Survive”, written by Ilene Rosenzweig, she suddenly remembered she was Jewish, when she was startled at interrupting her daughter “Lily McCarthy Novak” (Connor Dwelly) about to have sex with her boyfriend (I haven’t identified the actor). Before she takes her to a woman ob/gyn for birth control counseling, she protests her girlfriends’ jokes: She’s not porking! She’s a nice Jewish girl! She swears she’s only doing other stuff.. . .she only said ‘We’re not doing anything stupid!’
There were more Jewish identity references in “Rule #49: Let It Shine”, written by Matt Shire, because it was her mother’s funeral (though in previous seasons I presumed her father was Jewish, but not her mother “Dina”, as played by Lesley Anne Warren). (9/8/2017)

The Fosters – Emma Kurtzman in the 5th season (on FreeForm) Will the writers remember this season that she’s Jewish?
That “Emma” (played by Amanda Leighton) had an abortion is said over and over and over again. But “Too Fast, Too Furious” episode, written by Cristian Martinez, at least let her state her position definitively, albeit with no mention of her religion. FreeForm’s official synopsis of her confrontation with “Jesus” (played by Noah Centineo) (until I get a chance to get the script transcription, because this leaves out some important points): “Jesus is worried that Emma didn't tell him about the baby because she knew he would have wanted to keep it. Emma tries to tell him that as it was her body, her choice, and that she wasn't ready to have a baby or give one up for adoption. She goes on to say that she can't be with Jesus if he feels angry or betrayed by what she did, and that he needs to stop tormenting Brandon as he was only trying to help him.”
In “Engagement”, written by Megan Lynn and Wade Solomon, “Emma” tearfully confesses to his mothers how “Jesus” is pressuring her now: I really want Jesus to get better and to go back to school, but I’m not ready to be engaged. (updated 9/8/2017)

Odd Mom Out– Jill Weber in the 3rd season (half-hour sitcom on Bravo) In the first episode “Frisky Business”, written by star and creator Jill Kargman and Lara Spotts, Visiting Day to see her daughter “Hazel” (played by Erin Gerasimovich) at summer camp is a nasty dig at obnoxiously rich Jewish parents. I think I’m correct that’s brassy comic Rachel Feinstein, wearing numbers, plays: I am Kara, Remi's mom! …Hazel's BFF! I've heard all about your daughter! How she taught the whole cabin the Badunkadunk Shake. So, what did you bring for Bunk Junk? …Oy, what didn't we bring? We've got Zabar's cold bags, we've got Baked by Melissa, Mr. Chows and Sushi of Gari 'cause they miss the ethnic so much up here… We've got ice packs, and we were wheels up about an hour ago, so…That's the tail number of our jet! It's like the license plate. “Jill” when she’s knocked down by the mob of parents: That was Pamplona – but with Jews. and describes the camp: This place is like John Galliano and Mel Gibson's worst nightmare. In the bunk, “Kara” urges: Hon, be sure to share with the less fortunate. - meaning “Hazel”. She’s proud of her daughter’s striptease routine: My Remi is a danceaholic. She's on a competitive team in Boca. [I haven’t yet ID’d the youg actress playing “Remi”.] “Jill” tries to reassure her husband “Andy” (Andy Buckley) that her friends weren’t sexually advanced at the same age: At my bat-mitzvah Jenn Linardos gave Trip Cullman a hand job on the putting green at our club. Everyone called her the 19th hole after that…Well, that's two years away, and she was the fastest one in our group. (7/19/2017)

Younger – Lauren Heller plus in the 4th season (on TV Land) “Lauren” (played by Molly Bernard) is now a social media expert, living with her medical resident Jewish boyfriend “Dr. Max Horowitz” (played by Ben Rappaport). (7/14/2017)

I Love Dick – Chris Kraus (streaming on Amazon) [I haven’t watched the full only season yet, nor yet read the book it was based on; it was not renewed.] (updated 1/26/2018)

Saving Hope – Dr. Sydney Katz (Canadian CTV series shown in U.S. a few months later on ION) She was back from Israel beginning in the 5th and final season episode “All Our Yesterdays”, written by Wr by Patrick Tarr and Thomas Pepper, but this time with her pregnant, ill with cancer sister “Rebecca (Becca) Friedman” (played by Sydney Meyer), with many Jewish references about her family and their negative reaction to her coming out, as well as another kiss with “Maggie”. In each subsequent episode, as her relationship with “Dr. Lin” develops further, she looks ever prettier, actually glowing, with no glasses and her hair down, and somehow she keeps mentioning she’s Jewish at least once per episodes. [Detailed episode dialogue descriptions forthcoming] (6/23/2017)

2016/2017 Season

Amazon posted two pilots in the fall streaming for adult audience reaction testing to develop into a full season, both with Jewish characters.
The Interestings – Julie Jacobson and others in the pilot: Based on Meg Wolitzer 2013 novel I haven’t yet read, the opening scene had the most Jewish implications, as written by Lynnie Greene and Richard Levine. “Lois Jacobson” (played by Jessica Hecht with a more exaggerated New York Jewish accent than usual) is “schlepping” her daughter “Julie” (played by Katie Balen, evidently with a curly auburn wig) up to arts camp in the 1975. While she fights with her brunette younger sister “Elle” (played by Sarah Cohen), we learn the father has recently died and she got a scholarship to attend. In the bunk bathroom, she gets invited to be with the in crowd because You’re funny! She quickly ripostes: My father was a clown! When she works up the nerve to enter their quick-witted conversation, a guy calls her out: The girl from Long Island speaks! As an adult on the Upper West Side, “Jules” is played by Lauren Ambrose, and I think I recall that she has occasionally played a Jewish woman, but not usually with her auburn hair. In 1976, she’s shocked at the arrest of the brother “Goodman” of her friend “Ash Wolf” (played by Jessica Paré), protesting the cops are like “The Gestapo!”, though I couldn’t tell if the Wolf family is Jewish. The show jumps back and forth to the '70's, failures of the '80's (“Jules” acting career), success for some in the '90's (she got a MSW from Columbia and is unhappily married with a daughter to an exaggeratedly unintellectual, sports-mad lab tech “Dennis” (played by Gabriel Ebert). At various times over these decades, she’s has a close friendship with “Ethan Figman” (played by David Krumholtz, who pretty much always is a Jewish character), who went on to marriage and children with “Ash” and commercial success with a network cartoon show. I have some curiosity as to what happened to them in the past and will happen to them. Amazon chose not to develop the series.
The Last Tycoon is a lush, large ensemble, originally produced for HBO, adaptation of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, which I haven’t read, nor have I have seen other adaptations. The pilot, written and directed by Billy Ray, puts heavy emphasis on the Jewish roots of the central Irving Thalberg-inspired character producer “Monroe Stahr” (played by Matt Bomer), particularly as the German consul insists on all the studio’s movies conform to Article 15 – not malign the government, offend its racial sensitivities or employ Jews in Germany, in order to be distributed in their 2nd biggest market, like the other studios have. [Detailed in a controversial book The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler written by Ben Urwand]. Let alone by his studio head boss “Pat Brady” (played by Kelsey Grammer) who takes credit for changing this “Israelite” from his Bronx circus roots as “Milton Sternberg”, and when head of security Tomas “Tommy” Szep (Koen De Bouw) complains about stingy Jews and money. . especially this Jew. But I couldn’t tell if any of the females in his orbit in the pilot were Jewish, though his dead immigrant wife known in Hollywood as “Mina Davis” was Irish Catholic, regardless of what was in the original novel. Amazon has picked up the series.

A third pilot posted in August, I Love Dick, centered on a putative Jewish woman, until I know more from reading the book by Chris Kraus. Directed by Jill Soloway, with a teleplay by Sarah Gubbins from her play, this version of “Chris Kraus” (Kathryn Hahn) is an Upper West Side filmmaker, whose film’s acceptance into the Venice Film Festival has been pulled due to her unauthorized use of “bossa nova klezmer shit”. She’s married to Holocaust scholar “Sylvere” (Griffin Dunne), whose specialty is its aesthetics. She jokes it’s like sleeping with a mortician, yet accompanies him to a retreat run by guru rancher “Dick” (Kevin Bacon). Over dinner, he insists there are no Great Women Filmmakers, and her mumbled name check protest includes Chantal Ackerman. But he fascinates her into a fantasy epistolary relationship. Is this too off-beat to get picked up for a season? (updated 8/19/2016)
A pilot posted in the spring featured a Jewish woman as the lead character: Miriam “Midge” Maisel –in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Amy Sherman-Palladino, beloved for many seasons of Gilmore Girls, which would have Jewish secondary and lesser characters (and I haven’t caught up with the sequel episodes on Netflix), has finally written the series she had talked about for years, about a Jewish woman stand-up comedian in the mode of Joan Rivers. But this is only the pilot for her proposed series, so that most of the episode consist of “Midge” (played by Rachel Brosnahan, not an actress known as a comedienne) as the most exaggerated stereotypes of the perfect Jewish daughter, bride, wife, and mother with her own extreme Jewish mother “Rose Weinberg” (played by Marin Hinkle). (Details to post when I get a chance). Finally at the end, in a drunken rage against her schlemiel husband wannabe comic, she takes The Gaslight stage and mocks her life, her audience, and even her body – to applause (and arrest after exposing her boobs with pride). She even manages to get advice from Lenny Bruce (played by Luke Kirby) in jail, and garner the career interest of a putatively Jewish lesbian manager “Suzie” (played by Alex Borstein).
Amazon not only picked up the series, but for the first time the streaming service committed to two seasons, quoted in Variety 4/10/2017: “’In her onstage debut, Mrs. Maisel killed and had audiences responding overwhelmingly with digital applause,’ said Joe Lewis, head of comedy, drama and VR for Amazon Studios. ‘Like any great young stand-up, we’re excited to see what she has to say next and for a long time to come. That made it an easy decision to order two seasons from Amy and her incredible cast. We can’t wait to bring it to customers soon.’” (updated 4/10/2017)

Too bad another pilot The New VIPS included a nasty Jewish joke (even though listed as “a consultant” is a young Jewish woman I know with Emmy-winning comedy writing credentials.)

Difficult People - I haven’t watched because I don’t pay for Hulu.

The Blacklist (on NBC) was once again ambiguous about the identity, in the 4th season’s “Lipet’s Seafood Company”, teleplay by Lukas Reiter and story by Dawn DeNoon & Dave Metzger, about the ex-Mossad agent “Samar Navabi” (played by Mozhan Marnò) when she’s identified as a Mossad spy – and she identifies Israel as “my country”. Details forthcoming on her relationships with the hunky Mossad agents and the FBI. (2/5/2017)

Sweet Vicious (on MTV) added the short satirical film “Too Legit”, written and directed by Frankie Shaw, as a special It’s On Us PSA addition to this fiction series on campus rape. At the end, smarmy date rapist “Matt” (played by NateCordrry) entertains his pool-playing frat buddies by vulgarly commenting on looking forward to a blowjob from “Jewesses or Ju-Ju’s or what d’ya call them?” (1/24/2017)

Quantico (on ABC), the ridiculously confused CIA/FBI training missions drama, last year killed off its only Jewish character, a right-wing guy. In the episode “Aquiline”, written by Jorge Zamacona, his colleagues snuck off to his grave to commemorate the unveiling at night. Somehow, one of the Muslims, “Nimah Amin” (played by Yasmine Al Massri), knows how to recite the kaddish (slowly), and the very blonde gentile “Shelby Wyatt” (played by Johanna Braddy), who had thought she had a Muslim half-sister, knows the Jewish tradition of putting a stone on the gravestone. Will they have explanations later in the season that have some connection to the Mossad? (11/7/2016)

Though there is no longer a regular Jewish female character heard, let alone seen, on Big Bang Theory (on CBS), I still watch for references around the family of “Howard Wolowitz” (played by Simon Helberg), a one-time guest astronaut-engineer. So in the 10th season, 2nd episode “The Military Miniaturization” (3 names listed for story, and 3 for teleplay), he video chats with his “cousin Marty the lawyer in Boca Raton” (portrayed by Josh Zuckerman), who is sarcastic before giving legal advice: Thanks for going to space, so whatever I do my mother will be disappointed in me.

Switched at Birth (on Free Form, formerly ABC Family) Ridiculously, in the 3rd episode of Season 5, “Surprise”, written by Terrence Coli and Colin Waite, “Lily Summers” (played by Rachel Shenton) returns from her hometown in England with her boyfriend “Toby Kennish” (played by Lucas Grabeel) to announce they’re getting married – that evening. “Toby” adds: We're gonna have a chuppah because Lily is Jewish, of course. Huh? - her character was first introduced in the 3rd season when she got pregnant and weeped about genetic birth defects in her family, such that the deaf-signing “sisters” sign I didn’t know she was Jewish. (One of them goes online to become a certified minister officiant.) “Lily” explains: What’s a chuppah? It's like a canopy that couples stand under. It symbolizes a home they're gonna make together. Or in our case, the home we've already made together. Before (and during) the wedding that her parents are watching via web-cam, they fight and he calls her “Momzilla” and “controlling”, and she tells her mother-in-law about all the training she does with their Downs syndrome son, and then weeps to “Toby” about how frustrated she is at home. Even more ridiculously, they decide to stay there in Kansas City with the family, she gets her old job back, and “Toby” toasts her “L’chayim” with a glass of wine.
The “Memory (the heart)” episode, written by Linda Gase, dealt with “Lily”’s Jewishness more extensively, as she objected to her husband’s family’s presumption of having her son baptized. [More detail forthcoming.] (updated 4/7/2017)

Fargo (on FX) Inspired by the Coen Brothers movie, Jews were explicitly and putatively identified in the 3rd season episode “The House of Special Purpose”, written by Bob DeLaurentis. Slimy organized crime liaison “V.M. Varga” (played by David Thewlis) turned out to be extremely anti-Semitic, with his nasty comments to accountant “Seymour/Sy Feltz” (played by Michael Stuhlberg, notably from the Coens’ most Jewish movie A Serious Man), and threats to his “fat” wife, who we haven’t seen. “Sy” goes running to try and sell off his endangered business to “The Widow (Ruby) Goldfarb” (played by Mary McDonnell), making her first appearance after earlier references. While stressing she’s from St. Louis, her only vague, and sarcastic, reference to being Jewish, was about “tearing her garments” after her husband’s death, but she is one shrewd businesswoman in seeking to expand her husband’s cemetery and self-storage company into parking lots. In previous episodes she was admiringly called “the so-called storage queen of The Great Lakes region.” While “Sy” is distracted by two sets of criminals, she warns him she’ll compete if he doesn’t sell, which he actually very much wants to: You don’t want a Goldfarb for an enemy. (updated 1/27/2018)

Hawaii Five-0 (on CBS) Yet another grandchild of a Holocaust survivor seeking revenge on a Nazi camp guard in another cop show in “Ka pa'ani nui” episode written by Helen Shang. Details forthcoming on “Leah Rosen” (played by Angela Galvan). (2/5/2017)

Doubt (on CBS) In this quickly cancelled (episodes burned off in the summer), painfully PC lawyer series, set in New York City, it is unclear if the star “Sadie Ellis” (played by blonde Katherine Heigl) is the biological daughter of the Kathy Boudin-like “Carolyn Rice” (played by Judith Light, who usually portrays Jewish women). The Leonard Boudin-like law firm is led by the apparently Jewish “Isaiah Roth” (played by Elliott Gould), who adopted her when her mother, who he fell in love with, was jailed. His jealous and bitter daughter with major daddy issues “Dylan Bookner” (played by Paula Marshall) appears in the episode “Where Do We Go From Here?”, written by Louisa Levy, to complete her divorce (which climactically centers around whether she wants children – she doesn’t). She talks extensively about her mother, the abandoned first wife, but it wasn’t clear if she was Jewish either. (7/28/2017)

Who Do You Think You Are? (on TLC), actress Jennifer Grey, known for her father actor Joel Grey, wants to explore her mother’s family, the Browers – her mother doesn’t even know her grandmother’s first name. She jokes that she’s “a bad Jew…I just know we’re Russian Jews.” because she doesn’t know her family, and wants to pursue this so that her daughter Stella will know her family. Her mother sends her a photo she never saw of her grandfather and her mother, so she can show Stella: “It’s Bubbe as a baby!” A Jewish woman historian from The Tenement Museum leads her to Census and ship records that show her grandfather and his sisters came alone as young children to join their Socialist father in Brooklyn as he was going from compositor to pharmacist. Another Jewish historian is able to get records from Ukraine that show her unknown great-grandmother was Shaindel, and died in childbirth at age 35 in 1897. Bursting into tears, she figures that because her children didn’t get to the U. S. until a decade later, that explains, she thinks, the sadness she always saw in her grandfather.
Actress Jessica Biel (aka Mrs. Justin Timberlake) starts out saying that the family lore about her paternal side of the family is their last name is German, probably the name of a German town. But as a genealogist traces her relatives first back to Chicago, her great-grandfather was Morris (originally Moritz) working in the garment trade, hmm, originally emigrated from the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1888; The Chicago Tribune even ran a photo of the couple on on their 50th wedding anniversary. But a key clue to their ethnic origin came from his unusually named wife Ottilia in the Census: she was a native Yiddish speaker from Russia. As Jessica jokes that her Los Angeles friends are joking about throwing her a “bar mitzvah” [sic], the Biels are traced back to a Jewish registry in a Hungarian town – and a DNA test finds Jessica is 8% Ashkenazi Jewish. Saying “I’m really interested into diving into this Jewish culture a little more”, she goes into The Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning. (updated 4/13/2017)

A French Village (Un Village Français) – 4th and 5th seasons (Shown in the U.S. on MHz Choice, Season 4 is 1943 on DVD, 12 episodes; Season 5 is 1944, 12 episodes on DVD) (1/26/2018)

Genius – Elsa and Pauline Einstein and others in the first season (on National Geographic Channel) Based on Walter Isaacson’s 700+ page plus biography Einstein: His Life and Universe (so it will be awhile until I read it for comparison), the first “Chapter”, story by Noah Pink and Ken Biller, teleplay by  Noah Pink, was so busy sexing up Albert Einstein (played for the 1940’s by Geoffrey Rush) that I lost track of the other women in his life if they were Jewish other than his second wife Elsa (played by Emily Watson) who reminds him as the Nazis rise We are Jewish!, his sister Maria aka Maja (played in her youth by Helen Monks), who in Chapter 2, written by Angelina Burnett, befriends his early (blonde so non-Jewish) girlfriend believing she’s his fiancée (the youthful Einstein is played by Johnny Flynn), and their mother Pauline Koch Einstein (played by Claire Rushbrook, and the cast listing for the 2nd episode seems to confuse his mother with her mahatunin), who mostly urges him to get married. I see a pattern of non-Jewish casting. (previewed at 2017 Tribeca Film Festival)
In the 3rd chapter, written by Mark Lafferty, his mother is shocked by his two liaisons. Albert points that neither women is Jewish, but she retorts about the pregnant Serbian: At least she’s Slavic! His sister just tries to be conciliatory between them. In the 4th Chapter, written by Noah Pink, his mother turns into the Jewish Mother From Hell!
The young version of Elsa Einstein (played by Gwendolyn Ellis) is introduced in Chapter 5, written by Raf Green, in 1912 Berlin, as his quite romantically aggressive divorced cousin with two daughters – and his mother is the matchmaker. In the World War I-set Chapter 7, written by Kelly Souders, Elsa can’t stand the gossip about their relationship any more, especially as he’s becoming famous: How long until they discover you are living in sin with a divorcee who is your first cousin? -- and as a condition of finally getting a divorce from his first wife, she has to stand up in court as his adulterer. While Elsa’s daughters appear briefly (one dying in Paris, one getting a visa to join them in the U.S. despite suspicions of his political leanings, I wasn’t sure if the women around him in the final two episodes, a secretary and a Russian spy lover, were Jewish; while I check the book source, there was no indications on screen of their heritage. [More commentary forthcoming.] (updated 6/23/2017)

Madiba – Ruth First and Helen Suzman in the mini-series (on BET) This is the first of several bio-pics of Nelson Mandela that include Jewish women anti-apartheid activists, even in the documentary Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and The New South Africa that focused on a male Jewish legal hero. Ruth First, prominent leader in the African National Congress, is played by Kate Liquorish, she’s not explicitly identified as Jewish, other than adjectives like “rich” and “white” and “Communist” (nor in her profession as a journalist), in Episode 1: “Troublemaker”, written by Avie Luthra and Jane Maggs, directed by Kevin Hooks. I’ll detail the dialogue when I get a chance, but she’s shown fully involved in tactical planning and in the year-long treason case, along with her lawyer husband Joe Slovo (played by Jason Kennett).
In the 2nd episodes “Spear of the Nation and Total Strategy”, story by Nigel Williams, Paul Webb & Avie Luthra, teleplay by Webb & Jane Maggs, the Prime Minister John Vorster specifically target her: The kaffir lover Ruth First will be leaving on an exit visa. Soon - into the arms of their Jew Slovo in London. . .These white communists are all the same - take away their creature comforts and they break. Another Jewish woman activist not always seen in Mandele bio-pics is the auburn, curly-haired Helen Suzman, solo member of the National Assembly for the Progressive Party, present at the September 1966 assasination of Verwoerd, and Vorster snarls at her: It’s all your fault. She, in tearful shock: We had nothing to do with this! He: You incite people! Her solo anti-apartheid position in the parliament is even known to Mandela in prison, because he sends a message to her via a sympathetic quitting prison guard, and she face to face gets his demands for prison improvements, to the fury of the wardens, who have to implement them. [Commentary on the 3rd episode forthcoming.] (updated 2/13/2017)

The Wizard of Lies – The Madoff Women and others in the mini-series (on HBO) [Commentary forthcoming on yet another fictionalized versoin of their story.] (5/19/2017)

Dirty Dancing – The Houseman Women and others (on ABC) “Baby/Frances” (played by Abigail Breslin, her mother “Marjorie” (played by Debra Messing), and her sister “Lisa” (played by Sarah Hyland). Is “Mrs. Vivian Pressman” (Katey Sagal) Jewish or just that her ex-husband was? [Detailed commentary forthcoming on the remake of the classic 1987 movie, set in Summer 1963, which pre-dates my reviews of films with Jewish women.] (5/24/2017)

Homeland (on Showtime) - In the Season 6 opener set mostly in NYC, “Fair Game”, written by Alex Gansa and Ted Mann, the female Mossad agent returned,“Tova” (played by Hadar Ratzon Rotem – who also starred in the Israeli series this is based on Prisoners of War (Hatufim)). Now the CIA Chief “Dar Adal” (played by F. Murray Abraham) is scheming against the female President-Elect (David Simon uses the acronym PEOTUS) when they meet up at the southern tip of Manhattan, and warns she is not a fan of the close relationship with Israel: Don't write up an incident report. Don't share this with Tel Aviv. She quickly concurs: What do you want me to tell Misha?
The Mossad agent returns in “The Covenant”, written by Ron Nyswaner, but for the first time in the series we meet the sister of “Saul” (played by Mandy Patinkin), who turns out to be an extremist West Bank settler because she married one years ago. She is “Dorit” (played by Jacqueline Antaramian) – though I doubt that is the name she was given when she grew up with him in Indiana, nor dressed with a (loose) head scarf and long skirt. One the phone: “Dar”: Saul, where the hell are you? “Saul”: About to cross into the West Bank, actually. “Dar”: What happened? Why the change of plan? “Saul”: Guilt happened. “Dar”: Your crazy sister, huh? “Saul”: I didn't make it to her husband's funeral last year. And I am in the neighborhood. “Dar”: How long you plan to stay? “Saul”: Couple days, or until we murder each other, whichever comes first. He drives up his sister’s house with a smile:- Been too long. She: I'll admit, I was surprised to hear from you. He: I should've come when Moshe died. She: Come. We'll have a meal, then we can talk. This way. He: I remember. A lot more houses since the last time I was here. She: We've grown. Almost tripled in size. He: View's the same. She: Moshe chose this spot so the Arabs could see us every day and know we're never leaving. He: I remember that, too. She: That's Daniel. His 7th birthday. That's Jacob, Dabi [?] and Rebecca's third son. He's 6 now. He: Looks like his father. She: He's always getting into trouble, so naturally, he's my favorite. He hears distant rapid gunfire: Doesn't that bother you? She: I don't hear it anymore. Now, Saul, Tell me about Mira. What happened?What happens between people. I made promises and didn't keep them. She did the same. She: I'm sorry. He: Seems like a million years ago. She: And there's been no one since? He: No. She: I wish you could stay for Shabbat. Both boys come with their wives and all the children. He: Maybe next time. She smiles: I tell them stories about Indiana, being one of eight Jewish families in the entire town. How you were my protector. He laughs: Hey, even when you didn't want my protection. She: We were so close. After I married Moshe, you practically disappeared from my life. He: I visited when I could. She: Afternoon now and then. Moshe and I saw things differently. She: He was my husband. You could've tried to understand his point of view. He: Did he try to understand mine? She: You could've bent a little for my sake. He: There's no bending with a fanatic. After you met him you changed. She: Moshe opened my eyes to the false life that mother and father had us living-- exchanging Christmas presents with the neighbors, doing everything we could not to offend anyone with our Jewishness. Moshe made me proud to be a Jew. He: He turned you against your family. He brought you to live in a place that's not yours, where you don't belong. She: Please, Saul, let's not do this. He: Haven't you driven enough people from their homes already? Bulldoze their villages, seized their property under laws they had no part in making? She: This land was promised to Abraham. He: Ah, yes. Promise. A covenant with God made thousands of years ago. Doesn't that strike you as a form of insanity? She: You don't understand, Saul. You never have. I love the life that God has given me. He: How can you love making enemies? How can you love knowing that your very presence here makes peace less possible? She: I have a family, a community, a life filled with faith and purpose. Saul what do you have?
In the following “A Flash of Light”, written by Patrick Harbinson, she sees his visit was an excuse, when she sees him come back from a secret meeting in the middle of the night: Where have you been? He: I went for a walk. Couldn't sleep. She: I was worried. He: Sorry. I just wanted some fresh air. She: Don't lie to me, Saul. I couldn't sleep either. I saw you from my window. You went down into the valley. You went across. He: What do you say I pack first? Then we can have some breakfast and talk, okay? She: So who were you meeting? He: You know I can't tell you that. She: I suppose he was an Arab. Why do you always take their side? He: I don't. (Actually, he met with an Iranian, who is Persian, not Arab.) She: I don't wanna argue. I'm just sad that the only time you come to see me in 12 years, it was a cover for your work. He: I did want to see you. She: I'm not an idiot, Saul. He: I've been meaning to. That's the honest truth. She: How do you think it makes me feel? He: You're right. I'm sorry. She: Stop saying sorry. Sorry doesn't help. Doorbell rings – she recognizes Mossad (or some such) agent “Etai Luskin” (played by Allan Corduner): Dorit. Nice to see you again. And what a treat, Saul coming to visit you at long last. But so sad he has to leave so soon. She: He's an important man, like you. “Etai”: And what did you do, may I ask, on your one night together? She: Talked, mostly. Lot of catching up to do. “Etai”: I bet.Must have been up late. Till 3:00, 3:30. Just the two of you, was it? No dinner guests, unexpected visitors? She: Just us. “Etai”: Saul didn't step out for a few hours, did he? Take a walk under the stars? At 4 in the morning? She: Why? What's going on? “Etai”: Oh, nothing to worry about. Some activity in the area. I thought you might have noticed something. She: No. “Saul”: You know, now I really am gonna be late for my flight. Etai has offered to drive me. She: Goodbye, Saul. He whispers: Goodbye. Thank you. Shalom. She: Shalom and kisses his cheek. (updated 2/7/2018)

Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein (on Netflix) Whoops – Season 3 began streaming Spring 2017 before I even got a chance to watch S1 yet to comment on Lily Tomlin’s portrayal of the Jewish woman character. (3/2/2017)

This Is Us– Sloane Sandburg in the 1st season (on NBC) I hadn’t realized that the playwright (played by Milana Vayntrub) was Jewish until I saw a preview of a Hanukkah episode. The play’s star-ex-TV-Manny “Kevin Pearson” (played by hunk Justin Hartley) just called her “Sandberg” in the couple of previous episodes where she had ancillary comic bits.
While I’ll retrospectively look at “Sloane” in the in-between episodes, she was explicitly revealed as Jewish in “Last Christmas”, written by Donald Todd, when she brings “Kevin” to her family Hanukkah party—and he feels he has to bring her to his family Christmas party because she’s asked him to pretend he’s her boyfriend. (She looks more adoringly at him by the crèche in this still, than when she tells the story of the Maccabees to her nieces):
”Kevin” continuously identifies her as Jewish (as well as “smart” and “intelligent”) in the few other episodes she’s in before their romance ends – details forthcoming. (updated 2/5/2017)

Code Black (on CBS) I watch most medical shows for the possibility of a Jewish doctor and/or patient. Jews didn’t show up until the 2nd season of this L.A. based show – and when they did they were Madoff-type Jewish stereotypes, albeit with a crooked doctor in “What Lies Beneath” episode written by Zachary Lutsky. “Hank Goldman” (Roger Bart) is in the patient with a bad skull fracture and head bandage because there was a prison riot. The senior African-American doctor “Dr. Rollie Guthrie“ (played by William Allen Young) introduces him: Here’s the doctor to the stars. .. He was my resident...who made a lucrative career out of over-prescribing narcotics, until someone died…The court referred to it as involuntary manslaughter. His wife “Ruth” – the same name as Mrs. Madoff-- (played by Olivia d'Abo) clutching papers: I didn't come to see you, Hank. I came to ask you again to sign these. “Hank”: This is low, even for you. “Ruth”, teary: Low? We lost our home. Our kids, they had to switch schools. We lost our friends. We lost everything. Now the least that you could do is sign these papers already. “Hank”: I didn't mean for any of this to happen. How many times can I apologize? “Ruth”: Not enough. I need you to do this for me. Please. I thought seeing him would be good from me. I thought it would bring me some closure, but it's just brought back every bad feeling that I've had for the last five years. “Dr. Guthrie”: He's dying, Ruth. “Ruth”: He made his bed. Doctor: I don't believe you feel that way. “Ruth”: You don't know me anymore, Rollie. Doctor: I know who you were. I know who you both were. Come on, Ruth. This is not you. “Ruth”: This is what he made me. She overhears him admit fault to the doctor and suddenly wells up to her husband: I wanted the fancy lifestyle, too. Maybe more than you did. She shows him an old photograph that he’s surprised she kept: We had nothing. She: We had everything. They hold hands, as the doctor looks on: You know, I introduced them. Man, they were just kids, starting their lives.

Berlin Station (On Epix) In a spy series that features middle-aged actors as intelligence agents with long, jaded experience, even the Mossad agent is not the usual young sexy stereotype – instead she intentionally plays on a Jewish mother cliché. In “By Way of Deception, written by Larry J. Cohen, the deputy “Robert Kirsch” (played by Leland Oser) has let his boss know that the Israelis have contacted him. But we don’t see by whom, until there’s a knock on the door late at night. She’s “Golda Friedman” (played by German actress Daniela Ziegler): I brought you soup. He: You made me soup? She: You’re looking thin. Now let's talk about what else you can do for us. Unfortunately, even more stereotypes followed in other episodes; I’ll post when I can. (updated 12/1/2016)

New Girl (on Fox) Schmidt’s mother (played by Nora Dunn) was featured early in the 6th season in “Homecoming”, written by Matt Fusfeld &Alex Cuthbertson, not only with a much broader New York Jewish accent than in the sweet wedding finale of last season, but with an excruciatingly suffocating stereotype beyond how she has even been portrayed previously in the series, what with her son being home for a high school reunion in Great Neck. We didn’t need a replacement “Mrs. Wolowitz”! [Details forthcoming] (10/21/2016)

On The Night Of (HBO “limited series”), the tough, career prosecutor “Helen Weiss” (as played by Jeannie Berlin, who is having a banner year also appearing in Café Soceity as a very Jewish mother) is probably being perceived as Jewish, but I haven’t noticed any explicit references. (8/17/2016)

In Suits (on USA) season 6 opener “To Trouble”, written by Aaron Korsh, “Louis Litt” (played by Rick Hoffman) talks again of his sister “Esther”, who appeared in an arc last season. When he and the remaining partners in the deteriorating law firm get high, he rants resentfully about her, something about her hiding that she went to fat camp. (exact quote forthcoming). But she did not return this season. (7/13/2016/9/22/2018)

In Aquarius (on NBC), “Revolution 9” episode, written by Rafael Yglesias, set during the California primary in 1968, “Detective Hodiak” (played by David Duchovny) is tracking down a blackmailer of an old war buddy about his frequenting prostitutes. The vice “Detective Blumenthal” (played by Matthew Akin) knows the two hookers, including one’s real name: Becky Stein – yeah, it’s a shonda for my people. Their pimp “Martin O’Reilly” (played by Ryan Caldwell) describes why he charges $100 for each: They’re fresh girls. . .They all think they’re actresses and happy to play any part you want. In photos, the two are seen posing in black lingerie. (7/9/2016)

In Royal Pains (on USA), the final two episodes of the summer series in the Hamptons continued its vague winking at the “Lawson Family” (father and two brothers) Jewish origins, with no Jewish women. At the wedding of the father “Eddie R.” (played by Henry Winkler) to the presumably gentile “Ms. Newberg” (played by Christine Ebersole) in the penultimate, musical episode, “The Good News Is. . .” directed by Michael Rauch, there’s a glass smashing and “Mazel Tov”s all around, but no other noticeable Jewish elements. In an early interview the actress developed a back story on the character from her first appearance in the first season, summer 2009, that cleared up her ambiguity: “I’m a dowager, I believe. In other words, I believe I’m a widow, and my husband was Jewish and had a lot of money. So we had agreed to raise all the children Jewish, and I guess the dogs are included... And I think money allows that sort of eccentricity because you can do things that other people normally can’t do, like have a bark mitzvah for your dog and have hundreds of people come over, and sit poolside, and have the rabbi read from the Torah.”
In the finale “Uninterrupted”, written by series creator Andrew Lenchewski, “Evan R.” (played by Paulo Costanzo) is discussing their expected child with his very gentile blonde wife “Paige Collins” (played by Brooke D'Orsay). As she worries if a gorgeous crib mobile would make the infant dizzy, he sits up: Wait – I thought I was the nervous Jewish mother around here! (7/9/2016)

Ray Donovan (on Showtime), opens the 4th season, with “The Girl with the Guitar”, written by David Hollander, the Israeli “Avi” (played by Steven Bauer) is talked about, but not seen. “Lena” (played by Katherine Moennig) comes in to the office in the morning complaining: Tell Avi this isn't kosher chicken and to clean up after himself. Or better tell his mother to come clean up after him. We don’t get to see his mother until the penultimate episode of the season “Chinese Algrebra”, written by Sean Conway and Chad Feehan. While “Avi” has been held hostage in L.A. by the Russian mob for two days and beaten to within an inch of his life, his oblivious mother “Mrs. Rudin” (played by Anoush NeVart) calls the titular fixer (played by Liev Schreiber): Avi still hasn't called! He always checks in with me! “Ray” lies: It’s my fault. I sent him him down to Nicaragua looking after a client. She: He won't like it - stray dogs and Communists. And no kosher food. Tell him I'm taping “So You Think You Can Dance in LA.” (updated 1/4/2017)

The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 4th season (on ABC) (I detest this sit com so much that I couldn’t bring myself to finish watching even the 2nd season, so I’m not goint to waste my time watching the didn’t-deserve-to-be-renewed 4th season. I’ll probably have to end up buying the complete series on DVD to do a complete review with episode-by-episode documentation of its clichés.) (9/23/2016)

Once Upon A Sesame Street Christmas (on PBS, and repeated annually in subsequent seasons) In this confusing mish-mash of holidays that transports the denizens back to 19th century New York on Christmas Eve, like in Christmas Carol, written by Geri Cole and Ken Scarborough, Zosia Mamet plays a mysterious “Bella”, who starts out explaining Hanukkah sort of in the Lower East Side, then ends up wishing them all “Merry Christmas” before moving on to the next community that needs some Christmas Spirit. (12/13/2017)

Documentary Now (on IFC) In the 2nd season of this hilarious satire of Docu-Series, the parody of Spalding Gray’s Swimming to Cambodia, as directed by Jonathan Demme, was called “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”. While I suppose it’s possible that his first wife Renee Shafransky was Jewish, I was only aware of his 2nd wife Kathie Russo, so I was surprised when the parody suddenly inserted a (funny) Jewish girlfriend “Ramona” (played by comedienne Lennon Parham). (Details forthcoming)
In their parody of the Maysles’ Salesman, called Globesmen, written by Seth Meyers, the unsuccessful “Tom O'Halloran” (played by Fred Armisen) almost makes a sale of a globe at $49.95, until he brags that he doesn’t have to “Jew down” the middle-aged couple: Umm occurs to me, Rothstein may be a Jewish name. And he’s then seen throwing the globe into his car’s trunk in frustration. I actually can’t remember if there were ethnic slips in the 1968 original.
In the parody of The Kid’s Still in the Picture, Mr. Runner-Up: My Life as an Oscar Bridesmaid, Part 2, written by Bill Hader and John Mulaney, with Hader as Hollywood producer “Jerry Wallach” details how he made a movie about a woman Holocaust survivor. [Details forthcoming] (updated 2/8/2017)

In the finale of the real Docu-Series America Divided (on Epix), “Home Economics — Domestic Workers in California”, correspondent Amy Poehler interviews Rabbi Zoe Klein, posing with her daughters and sons and their nanny Sylvia from Honduras, though she demurs about policy issues regarding pay and domestic workers’ right.
In another fine such series, Hate Thy Neighbor (on Viceland), British comedian Jamali Maddix’s around the world tour of extreme racists stops at “Forbidden Love In Israel” to the group Lehava, which not only demonstrates against the Gay Pride Parade in Jeruslem, but the leader Ben-Zion Gopstein claims to help parents whose daughters have been seduced by Arabs. As he explains in broken English: “They go to the Arabs, very young daughters 14-16 years old because they give them money give them sex and pizza.” (The comedian in his stand-up act back home mocks the idea of young women today having sex in exchange for pizz.) The wife of 26 years, with her eight kids and many grandchildren, is seen supporting his racist activities. A 23-year-old woman in the organization is making signs protesting gays with her broken English explanation: “I love the Jewish people, I love my friends. My grandmother is a survivor so I can't accept that someone tries to threaten us, terrorists and trying to date Jewish girls.” (The comedian later mocks: “When did genocide get so sexy?”) (updated 2/24/2017)

Madam Secretary – Nadine Tolliver in the 3rd season (on CBS) Approaching the season finale, the series seems to have forgotten she’s Jewish. (updated 5/17/2017)

In Saving Hope, before “Dr. Sydney Katz” returned for a few episodes in the Rolling Stones-themed titles 4th season, her absence was noted. in“Beasts of Burden”, written by Patrick Tarr, (originally shown in Canada, October 2015; on ION in the U.S. a year later), there was an implicit Jewish woman “Dr Clara Levine” (played by Kate Lynch) is a bully broad, senior surgeon with short white hair, who was the mentor of the current woman head of surgery. She challenges the star “Dr. Alex Reid” (played by Eria Durance) who is just back from maternity leave: You just had a baby, didn't you? “Alex”: Yes. Luke. 11 months. Do you have kids? “Levine”, though there’s no hint that I could see she’s explicitly Jewish: No, no kids for me. It was all work. Besides, in those days, if you stepped away, they would never let you back in again.. . . You're married to Charlie Harris, right?. . .Charlie's a great surgeon. And according to, Dawn, so are you.. . .I trained Dawn when she was a resident. Such a nervous little thing. She used to follow me around like a puppy. …One day I'll tell you the story of how she accidentally sewed her finger onto a cadaver. But she misses something in the surgery, “Alex” and “Dawn” argue over her; “Dr. Levine” is defiant, then quickly crumbles: I would never have questioned a senior surgeon when I was coming up…You're a junior surgeon who thinks she knows everything.What do you have to explain to me?. . . How did I miss that?. . . Five years ago, this never would have happened…And it's gone on long enough. I need to walk away. I've been afraid to. I've been afraid of the nothing that is waiting for me. It's time. . .Oh, Dr. Hamza I will miss you and our chess games. . . I think after four decades here, I've earned the right to the last word. It's a very different world from when I was starting out. The snickering and the accidental gropings and the second-guessing of your work, although I think in that department, we've come full circle…That's my point. It is easier for you. But you still have to prove yourself more than any male surgeon. Every day you come to work, you have to be perfect. I hope you're up for that.
”Katz” returns in the 1940’s mode of a sexually fulfilled woman – no glasses and shiny bouncy hair, now that she’s accepted being lesbian and Orthodox. She not only comes to consult on pregnant patients, in “Emotional Rescue”, written by series creator Malcolm MacRury, but just in time for “Dr. Maggie Lin” (played by Julia Taylor Ross, who is Eurasian) to have been in the middle of Boston Marathon-type bombing and needs a serious operation. “Alex” watches how nervous she is waiting during the operation: You really love her don't you? In quick recuperation, “Maggie” comments: If you're here to kiss me, Alex already beat you to it. “Sydney”: You’re in the IC- how can you possibly make this half full? “Maggie”: You’re here. I’ll provide more detail on their interchanges in subsequent episodes, but key was “Sydney”s final appearance in “All Down the Line”, written by Jennifer Kassabian. At the changing room lockers, “Sydney”: You’re too skinny. “Maggie”: Are you Jewish mothering me or ex-girlfriending me right now? in a strained tone of voice. “Sydney”: I didn't know we were exs. “Maggie”: We're not really friends right now either. “Syndey”: Fair enough. . . I want to leave [my patient] with someone I trust before I go to Israel.…“Maggie”: Has your life been a flurry of hot dates and deliveries? “Sydney”: Not exactly. My father still won't speak to me, but my mom started sending me emails so that's progress. “Maggie”: I'm glad -- have yu talked to Herschel? “Sydney”: No, that's a burned bridge.…”Maggie”: So if this patient is that important to you why don't you postpone your move? “Sydney”: Because I’m moving to Tel Aviv to be with my girlfriend. She's expecting me next week. They end with a friendly kiss. (updated 6/23/2017)

Shoshanna Shapiro in the 6th season of Girls (2/6/2017)

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – Abigail McCarthy in the 3rd Season (on Bravo and renewed for 2 more seasons) Not only did the entire season forget she was Jewish, but she seemed to get stupider. (updated 3/18/2017)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Rebecca Bunch, her mother, and others in their 2nd season (on the CW) Creator/star Rachel Bloom makes even more Jewish references on her Twitter posts, including before, during filming, and after announcing that Patti LuPone would be playing a rabbi and co-starring with Tovah Feldshuh (continuing as the mother) in the most Jewish episode of the series “Will Scarsdale Like Josh's Shayna Punim?”, written by Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, that I’ll eventually cover, but here’s a still, and a link to LuPone’s duet with Feldshuh “Remember That We Suffered”.
Bloom guesting on the Naked American Songbook podcast was described as: “When she came to the studio over Passover, Rachel and host Julian Fleisher made a meal out of the Great American Songbook, as well as our Naked American offering: a box of gluten-free matzo and a blessed bottle of fermented concord grape juice. All in the name of songs and freedom.”
(updated 7/20/2017)

Felicity Smoak in the 5th season of Arrow (on CW) I presume during Sweeps Weeks she may cross-over into the 3rd season of The Flash and the 2nd season of SuperGirl (its 1st season on CW). With the traumatic break-up at the end of Season 4 (sob!), her role is even more about competence. Are the ratings going down because of the break-up? (updated 11/19/2016)

Younger – Lauren Heller plus in the 3rd season (on TV Land) Uncharacteristically, from the opening episode, “A Kiss Is Just A Kiss”, written by series creator Darren Star, “Lauren” (played by Molly Bernard) made a Jewish reference. She is determined to cheer up recent widow “Kelsey Peters” (played by Hilary Duff): I’ll get you through this. I’ll meet you after work. There’s a really hot grief group at my temple tonight. “Kelsey”: That’s wonderful. I’m not even Jewish! “Lauren”: Even better, really!
While “Lauren” continued to be sharp in contemporary business marketing, she was suddenly turned “basic” as she describes her new self to her consternation, in “Last Days of Books”, written by Alison Brown, by falling for cute, hetereo, Jewish doctor at Beth Israel Hospital “Max Horowitz” (played by Ben Rappaport, who was featured in the latest Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof). While I will go into them in detail when I get a chance, the recappers notably IDd them as “childhood friends” and missed the Jewish social context that they were originally camp friends -- “Color War” was a major clue and as seen in an old photo his (approving) mom found:
A surprising Brooklyn Jewish woman character appeared in “P is for Pancake”, written by Jessie Cantrell and stayed for several episodes -- as a love interest for lesbian artist “Maggie” (played by Debi Mazer), who explains to her roommate: She’s not my usual type. She’s got this all natural, kinfolky kind of vibe. Not a stitch of make-up. At the community garden where they first met, “Malkie” (played by Sally Pressman) on her hat: It’s actually from my boutique on Bedford. . .I’m lucky I have a loyal clientele. and invites her to an event for her spring collection:

As klezmer music plays, “Maggie” notes the mezuzah on the door frame and kosher wine as a refreshment. “Malkie” helps her cover up her sexy dress with a shawl: My store specializes in stylish clothing for the modest woman, mostly Orthodox Jewish women. “Maggie”: I must be off my game or something, because I kind of missed a few things. I thought you were gay, not Orthodox. “Malkie”: Why can’t I be both? I’m what you might call ‘Orthodyke’. She pulls “Maggie” into a dressing room for a hot make out session. Details on the other episodes forthcoming as I get a chance, such as this mikveh for lesbians and such hipsters:
(updated 1/3/2017)

Better Things (on FX) I always seem to be identifying Pamela Adlon as playing a “putative Jewish women character” in series – such as in Californication and Louis. In promoting her new auteur series, that she created and is writing, she did not reference herself or her character “Sam Fox”, a single mother of three daughters, as Jewish at all. In the pilot “Sam”, that she wrote with Louis C.K., the only hint is when she dreams about her hirsute father “Murray” (played by Adam Kulbersh), who also seems putatively Jewish. There may be more clarification with more scenes with her mother “Phyllis” (played by Celia Imre), who is only heard in her dream nagging like a putative Jewish mother.
In the 3rd episode “Brown”, written by co-creator Louis C.K., the family is in the middle of eating dinner hosting her guest, her African-American director “Mel Trueblood” (played by Lenny Kravitz, whose father is Jewish). After a commercial, she’s seen in the middle of eating and conversation, apparently answering his question: Oh yeah, we don’t have a mezuzah. “Mel”: What’s up with that? She: We’re not that--. She shakes her head, shrugs and gets busy chewing a mouthful of spaghetti. That’s the strongest indicator yet she is at least secular Jewishly identified, with self-deprecation. (updated 10/7/2016)

Deborah Gorn and Rachel Castello in the 4th and 5th seasons of Ripper Street (seen in the U.S. on BBC America) From the 1st episode of the season, “The Stranger’s Home” written by Richard Warlow, set in 1897 during preparation of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, “Deborah Goren” (played by Lucy Cohu) tracked down the retired “Det. Insp. Edmund Reid” (played by Matthew Macfadyen) at his seaside cottage to ask his help to challenge what she is sure is the wrongful capital conviction of a fellow Jew “Isaac Bloom” (played by Justin Avoth). When he first refuses to challenge the investigation by his former colleagues, she wanly smiles I gave thanks when I heard your daughter was returned to you. Then pleads again as they watch the sun set over the ocean. Her reaching out to him is popular neither with her Jewish community, nor with his ex-colleagues.
I didn’t realize until a few episodes in that another Jewish woman appeared this season – “Rachel Castello” (played by Anna Koval). “Deborah” describes her to the Inspector: She feels you police hide the truth of what is acted out on the people of her faith. He’s as surprised as me: She is Jewish? “Deborah”: Raised as an English woman. However, she discovers her heritage with a zeal, a zeal for truth, and that truth to be discovered however it may. They make an interesting contrast between recent Russian immigrant vs. assimilated Jew, as “Rachel” traced the murder victim’s story: A history of the frozen and famished journeys made by those of my faith, that they might find shelter in Whitechapel. “Rachel” is an active reporter in the 5th season, so I’ll keep looking for any reference to her Jewish background. (Details forthcoming.) (updated 3/18/2017)

Arranged (on FYI) – I’m making an exception for my usual avoidance of “reality” shows here, but since the satirical UnReal showed just how ridiculously manipulated they are, I was curious how an Orthodox Jewish couple would be presented in this second “docu-series” season of following American couples engaged as “arranged” couples. In addition to Texas Baptists and Californians of Indian heritage (East? South Asian? – I zap through the other couples) are Ben, 22, and Vicki Anderson, age 21. I was intrigued that unlike most TV assumptions of observant Jews as Hassids in Brooklyn, these two declare they are “Modern Orthodox” who met growing up in Seattle – so the “arranged” is very loosely applied in that she asked friends to fix them up now that both live in NYC – which is also common from The New York Times wedding stories.
In the first episode “Estranged Arrangement”, the term baal teshuvah wasn’t used, but Vickie explained she was raised in a fairly secular Jewish family and decided to take on the Orthodox commitment “to add meaning” to her life. He had noticed that she was now dressing modestly, so was interested. Ben’s mother Ellen, who doesn’t look Orthodox at all, explained the tradition of shiner negiah -- not touching until marriage – and laughs that’s why young people want to get married already by their early ‘20’s. Vicki lives on the Upper West Side (that she contextualizes for presumably older viewers is like living in Friends or Sex and the City where one of her friends jokes that it’s harder to get kosher there than when they were in Israel – which is youthfully naïve, as I have kosher friends there and there are many observant congregations. [Ben, who in a later episode calls Far Rockaway suburbs and Manhattan “the city”, seems to think it’s Harlem.] While Vicki goes on and on about her nervousness of taking on the role of “happy smiling wife, but that now seems out of my league”, the episode mostly focuses on the issue of whether she can take on the tradition of wearing a wig, sheitel. Her mom Susan: “I have trouble with the wig. The first time I see her with it, I might rip it off, and then go into therapy.” First Vicki visits a wig store with her camp friend Rebecca to help her choose because she feels big pressure from Ben’s family to do so (though his parents do not look that Orthodox). Next she goes with Ben and the woman seller puts on pressure too: “It’s for you, for the sanctity of your marriage, and the holiness of your home.” – but only offers long-haired options and there’s no discussion of shaving her head. He compliments her wig, and she agrees to do it, though she’s scared. While she loves her locks and considers her hair important to her sense of self, it’s only mentioned in passing that a hat would also be acceptable, like the jaunty berets many young Orthodox women in my neighborhood wear, and which other young women she meets in his neighborhood wear as well.
Through the next episodes, through the wedding, Victoria, as her mother calls her, seems fairly natural; Ben seems coached and rehearsed, with his real self only slipping out when he gets stubborn and mad. [Gosh, it takes me awhile to transcribe each episode!] (updated 8/7/2016)

Genealogy Roadshow (on PBS) hasn’t had Jewish women seeking their family histories much. In Providence, RI, was Deborah Rosenbaum, with a luxurious head of curly brown hair, seeking how her family escaped Nazi Germany. With a husband born in Russia and a son from Ehiopia, she was born in NYC, and wants to know how her father’s family made it to Shanghai, China, where he was born. She’s shown her family tree, through her grandparents, starting wih her grandmother Edith’s German passport with a Swastika and “J”, in what is now Poland. Her tailor grandfather was arrested from a department store amidst Kristallnacht and got out just as her grandmother was able to pay for a February 1939 exit stamp, to Italy briefly, and left just in time by ship through the Panama Canal to Shanghai, and stayed after liberation until passage to the U.S. in 1947 and became permanent residents in June 1949.
However, on the following week’s episode from Los Angeles, the family behind the famous Schwab’s Drugstore in Hollywood is never identified as Jewish – and it took me a bit of googling to confirm they were by finding that the eldest, founding brother Jacob is buried in a Jewish cemetery. The grandson of the youngest brother Leon came to the program with his wife and young daughter Catherine (with long, flowing, curly brunette locks) seeking confirmation of a clue they had found in family clippings that the business was also run by the brothers’ mother Lena. The genealogist tracked her back to her birth as Leibe in Grodno in 1877, in what is now Belarus, married to Abraham Svouv (the family’s original name spelling) in Philadelphia, moved on to L.A., widowed with 4 sons by 1922 (the other sons were known as Bernard and Martin). From probate court, they found her will stating she was: “equal owner and co-partner in the operation of drug stores and liquor stores.” The impressed wife calls her “a mogul!” A lost to history, and not fully credited here, Jewish mother entrepreneur! (updated 6/29/2016)

In Feed The Beast (on AMC), this gritty drama set in an oddly very fictionally mostly white contemporary Bronx (based on a Danish series Bankerot I haven’t seen) and starring David Schwimmer, who usually plays Jewish characters but is here “Tommy Moran”, explicitly identified a woman character as Jewish in “Secret Sauce”, written by Hilly Hicks, Jr. His estranged racist father “Aidan Moran” (played by John Moran)’s accountant “Ruth Klein” (played by Kathryn Kates) warns about the loan he’s given his son to start a risky new restaurant: You’re not worth as much as you think you are ‘Mr. Restauranteur’. “Aidan”: What am I paying you for? I thought you people were good with money. She: I'm a Jew, not a magician. .. You’re running out of money. This was the 4th episode, but I don’t think this was her first appearance in that office. The actress was hired, per AMC’s original announcement, as a recurring character: “a know-it-all, tough accountant”.
In the 7th episode “Tabula Rasa”, written by Becky Mode, her boss rolls his eyes when she comes into his office, after just hearing that his cancer his worse: How about some good news. She: My nephew graduated summa cum laude from Harvard Business School He: Cut to the chase. She: My grandson will be here soon. You're cash-poor. Time to pull the plug on your little money pit in the Bronx. I'm gonna have to find another $35,000 for your second trip down to Mexico for that alternative medicine you're so keen on. He: Forget it. I'm done drinking Mexican horse piss. Besides, it's not working. She: Glad to hear it. I'm not glad it's not working, of course. Glad 'cause you need the money. The series was cancelled after this one season. (updated 9/11/2016)

The/Le Tunnel – Elise Wassermann in the 1st season (on PBS/originally a Sky Atlantic/Canal + co-production) In this 3rd version of Bron/Broen and The Bridge, the borderline between Denmark/Sweden and Texas/Mexico, is now between England/France. The different background of the otherwise pretty-much-the-same rigid, unemotional, borderline Asperger’s French detective who picks up a hunk in a bar for anonymous sex, played by the blonde Clémence Poésy, came out in the 2nd episode, written by Ben Richards. In investigating the gruesome murder of “Député (MP) Marie Villeneuve”, she follows up on threatening mail from an organic farmer who had been sending her threatening mails to check out his abattoir: Somebody who produces and butchers their own meat because they hate the Zionist Occupied Government of France. But he catches her in the middle of the night, per the subtitles: Wassermann, that's a Jewish name. Detective: It’s just a name. My father was Jewish, my mother was Catholic. I don’t care. . . Villeneuve wasn’t Jewish. He: She works for the Zionist government. Meanwhile, the real serial killer is on the phone with his journalist liaison and dismisses the farmer: He’s just a cretinous Nazi. She assures the other cops: He just hates Jews. The British detective muses that the killer’s messages sound like he thinks he’s like an Old Testament God. (6/29/2016)

The Fosters – Emma Kurtzman in the 4th season (on FreeForm) was a surprise return in the season premiere “Potential Energy” written by Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige, especially with the same actress Amanda Leighton in atypical behavior of playing hooky with the new actor now playing “Jesus” (Noah Centineo). With zero references to her Jewish identity from past seasons, they bond while the school is in a shut-down panic over a potential school shooting, she laughs with him about “Harry” breaking up with her after a few months. [Maybe that was in episodes I missed last season.] Despite their hand holding during the tense moments, she clarifies: Today’s been kind of intense, and we had a lot of fun and you’ve been very sweet. But I don’t want you to think we’re starting something up again. His casual agreement wasn’t very convincing! Continuing as a recurring character in subsequent episodes, she’s making out more and more with him. In “Trust”, written by Anne Meredith, “Emma” is more eager and open about her sexual experience than Jewish teenage girls are usually portrayed on TV, but she also is the more mature one in insisting they go to a clinic and get tested for STDs (and she’s the one driving the car) before they agree to be exlusive friends with benefits who don’t have other friends with benefits.
In “Forty”, written by Megan Lynn and Wade Solomon, “Emma” is again a self-confident Smart Girl participating in the STEM Club and encouraging “Jesus”s sister “Mariana Adams Foster” (played by Cierra Ramirez), along with the only other girl in the club, to enter a competition with her to design a robot – and inspiring “Jesus” to help. The Fosters Tumblr account posted a GIF clip (scroll down because I can’t figure out how to post a GIF myself) of the girls high-five-ing each other when they beat out the boys when they insisted on the originality of their design.
So while “Emma” is continuously referred to by “Jesus” as “smart” (even “too smart” for him), in “Doors and Windows”, written by Constance M. Burge, she weeps to his foster brother “David Foster” (played by David Lambert) that while she was on the pill, a pregnancy test revealed she’s pregnant and she’s missed her period. Worse, she tearily shakes her head that she can’t talk to her parents, as he suggests, or tell his moms because they had just railed against secrets: I don’t want to be a 16 year old with a baby. Is it horrible if I don’t tell Jesus? You know with his condition, I’m afraid it’s jut going to be too much for him., because “Jesus” is recovering from a brain injury – though it’s more that he sees them together and is jealous. I’m furious that so many teen shows have girls get pregnant on The Pill! At least add in some dialogue that maybe she didn’t take it reliably, or missed a day or something, which would be the real reason women get pregnant while taking it.
Through the whole arc of her decision and the family fallout of an abortion through the season finale, there was no reference to her Jewish identity or beliefs, so that late-comers to the series would have no idea. (She would just shake her head no when over and over she and others would ask if she could or did tell her mother/parents.) The issues were framed as her freedom with her body, lack of readiness to care for a child vs. Jesus’s history as an adoptee. [Details of the season forthcoming.] (updated 4/12/2017)

Odd Mom Out– Jill Weber in the 2nd season (half-hour sitcom on Bravo) I didn’t get a chance to cover their advance “Time In” panel at Tribeca Film Festival, because I was busy covering so many women-crewed films, and I thought it would eventually stream or be reported online, but I’ll keep checking, though I wonder if anyone else would ask about the Jewish aspects.
Set before and during Yom Kippur, the 2nd episode, “Fasting and Furious” written by executive producers Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritzsky was not only the most Jewish episode of the series, but of just about any recent TV series. I was surprised to have confirmed, however, that though “Jill”s BFF “Dr. Vanessa” constantly lets loose with Yiddishims, she explicitly identified: I’m a lapsed Catholic. (and in the following episode joked she still felt guilty over not bothering to see a visiting Pope.) I’ll post all the relevant dialogue when I have a chance! (updated 6/27/2016)

UnReal– Rachel Goldberg and others in the 2nd season (on Lifetime) relevant spoilers were teased at the Vulture Festival panel 5/22/2016: “Quinn (Constance Zimmer) and Rachel (Shiri Appleby) get matching tattoos that say, Money Dick Power. ‘It’s supposed to be a list of priorities so they never forget their priorities again,” [the show’s co-creator Sarah Gertrude] Shapiro said. . . Rachel is Everlasting’s showrunner now. ‘After season one, Rachel really has nothing left to lose. ... I think that this is her Hail Mary pass to make her life mean something,’ Shapiro said. This newfound power also includes an improved wardrobe. ‘We’re really feeling her stand up and her look really goes along with that’, Appleby said. . . Rachel [has a] new love interest this season. Rachel’s is a new producer on Everlasting who seems like he could be perfect for her. ‘He comes from a documentary film background, he has a nice Jewish family, a house in Martha’s Vineyard,’ Appleby said.”
In addition to “Rachel” being constantly needled by her mother the shrink, who even sends her negative evaluations of her daughter’s mental state to her co-workers on the show, one of the new contestants on Bachelor-clone Everlasting is Jewish – “Yael” (played by Monica Barbaro) is immediately dubbed “Hot Rachel” by the crew. By the season’s second episode “Insurgent”, written by Stacy Ruykeyser, the very manipulative Sarah Lawrence grad “Yael” tries to play Jewish geography with her, then asks: Can we talk? with Vassar alum “Rachel”, who cuts her off: Like Heeb to Heeb? This after “Rachel” manipulated the African-American college student into being on the show because for the “revolutionary” first time she got a black bachelor as the bait. (A primary way other characters needle “Rachel” throughout the season is referencing her mother and her mother’s diagnosis that she is unstable.)
In the tumultuous “Ambush”, written by Ariana Jackson, she ends up in a fetal position and calls her mother for help. Mom puts her into a psychiatric facility and hands her a cup of pills: You know I love you, right? [More detailed commentary forthcoming] (updated 7/26/2016)

2015/2016 Season

My favorite Jewish women TV comediennes were seen welcoming the Jewish New Year with wit. Jenny Slate, this season of Married, tweeted: “Yom Kippur, a day of not eating&saying sorry for every possible thing AKA THE LIFE OF AN AMERICAN ACTRESS.” Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer posted the webisode Hack Into Broad City – Yom Kippur. Amy Schumer fan University of Michigan junior Becca Soverinsky compiled 10 Stages of the Yom Kippur Fast, as Told By Amy Schumer that went viral; though I follow Schumer on Twitter, I couldn’t find her reaction, but in December she did post her childhood Hanukkah video.

But will she be Jewish? Deborah Schoeneman, a putative Jewish woman newspaper, magazine, book and TV writer, announced, 9/1/2015, a deal with CBS Television Studios for a dramatic TV series inspired by a prominent Jewish feminist defense attorney. She told Variety: “When I was finished working on the last season of The Newsroom, I was trying to figure out what kind of show I wanted to develop. . .Gloria Allred was in the center of the stories in the news that most interested me, particularly about women seeking justice. I was thrilled that she was receptive . . . She was a lot of fun to pitch with …I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with Gloria Allred to create a dynamic, passionate and polarizing character based on her. Gloria’s an amazing storyteller with a deep well of perfect material for television.”

Difficult People - I haven’t watched because I don’t pay for Hulu.

While cousins from both mine and my husband’s families are two of the people in charge at HBO’s Veep, and the Emmy-nominated “Mother” episode, written by Alex Gregory and Peter Huyk, has been the most acclaimed of this season, I’m not sure if newspaper reporter “Wendy Keegan” (played by Kathy Najimy) the wife of “White House Press Secretary Mike McLintock” (Matt Walsh) is Jewish. So I wasn’t quite sure to make of her quick claim when interviewing a potential evangelical surrogate mother “Deborah Lee” (Meredith Hagner) who proclaims: Praise Jesus! Are y'all Christians?, she quickly replies: Yes! I mean, a lot of people think that I'm Jewish. But no! (with a gesture across her neck) and she makes up “The Church of the Holy Womb” that they attend. (9/17/2016)

I stopped watching NCIS for Ziva David’s last season, though I never got around to formally documenting her last episodes in Fall 2013 here. There was much fan anticipation if she would return in the final Sweeps Week episode of Michael Weatherly who played “Tony DiNozzo” (before he went on to another CBS season). In “Family First” (Season 13 Ep 24, broadcast May 17, 2016), written by Gary Glasberg & Scott Williams, she is talked about constantly throughout the episode, including by a (presumed Jewish) woman director of Mossad, whose couple of previous episodes I had missed, “Orli Elbaz” (played by Star Trek fave Marina Sirtis). But more importantly it is revealed that not only did “Ziva” die in a terrorist revenge attack against her father, but that she had a daughter fathered by “Tony”, she named “Tali” as the namesake of her sister, who also died in a terrorist bomb (and played here by two adorable toddler twins). In a climactic scene, the girl points to a photo of her parents together and says “Ima” and “Abba”, which “Tony” figures out is Hebrew for “Mom” and “Dad”. As usual for this series, the closest any mention is made of “Ziva” being Jewish is when he gives to his daughter her mother’s necklace that he kept in his pocket close to his heart – but only loyal viewers would know it was a Jewish star, because there was not the usual sentimental close-up. [More commentary forthcoming.]
Executive producer Gary Glasberg posted on the CBS website under “11 Things You Didn’t Know About the NCIS Season 13 Finale” [Of course there’s no reference to “Ziva” even being Israeli]: "Hours, days, we sat in the writers room talking. Being a field agent is dangerous. And, if you're suddenly a single parent, do you continue to take that risk every day? Or, does having a child change everything? Based on all of our research, talking to actual federal agents and law enforcement officers, it certainly does change things. And, now Tony would do anything for that little girl. Anything. . .Ziva would have introduced DiNozzo to Tali eventually. The real question is, why didn't Ziva tell him sooner? Because, like Orli says, Ziva always wanted Tony to live his life. You all know Ziva as a fiercely independent character. We truly believe she was planning to introduce him to his daughter when the time was right. Should that frustrate and anger Tony? Of course, it should. But, he also knew Ziva well enough to understand. And, at the end of the day, look what she's given him. A new sense of purpose. A new chapter. A new beginning. A new love. We knew it would take something enormous to make Tony put down his badge. Tali is that very special something. . . Tony finding the photo of he and Ziva in the go bag and showing it to Tali is one of my favorite scenes in the episode. This is where all the puzzle pieces really fit together. This is where Tony realizes how much Ziva truly cared for him and that she wanted him to be in Tali's life. It's also where Tony acknowledges (off screen after this revelation) to join his team and confront Kort. Go back and watch this scene again. It really covers a wide range of story and emotion."
But “Ziva” fans kept pressing the actress with questions, so she gradually provided more explanation of why she left the popular series. First saying: “Unfortunately, because of political things and the scripts not being good enough, I chose not to [stay]. I love this character. I worked eight years in crafting this character and loving her, so when I felt or I perceived the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved, all the money in the world couldn't buy [me].” At Babson College, Cote de Pablo added: “They were going to send her back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman. I said well what do I leave all the women who have watched and followed the show? I didn't think it was fair. And so I said, 'Until someone can really write something fantastic for her, I won't come back.'” (updated 8/19/2016)

On Law & Order: SVU episode “Collateral Damages”, written by Samantha Corbin-Miller, featured an obnoxious until he’s brought down Jewish-implied (with a Yiddish word here and there) “Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Hank Abraham” (played by Josh Pais) revealed as an addicted consumer of child pornography. But his attorney wife, counsel for child social services and distraught mother of a boy and girl, “Pippa Cox” (played by red-headed Jessica Phillips,) is nowhere implied as Jewish, what with her parents “living in Pennsylvania”, and the police don’t pass any Jewish ritual objects in the apartment that I could see while they were thoroughly searching for the sordid evidence. Defending the informant, Susie Essman was also playing an attorney “Arlene Heller” who also wasn’t specifically identified as Jewish. While they didn’t meet my threshold for at least “putative”, did the audience assume both were Jewish women anyway? (4/6/2016)

The second season of The Blacklist (on NBC) definitely confirmed that the ex-Mossad agent “Samar Navabi” (played by Mozhan Marnò) is a Muslim Iranian. But in “Alistair Pitt”, teleplay by Nicole Phillips, “Agent Elizabeth Keen” (played by Megan Boone) is sarcastically surprised when “Samar” keeps nagging for input into her baby shower planning: Who are you? “Samar”: A Jewish mother. Part of my Mossad training. (3/17/2016)

Grace and Frankie – Frankie Bergstein (on Netflix) Whoops – Season 2 began streaming Spring 2016 before I even got a chance to watch S1 yet to comment on Lily Tomlin’s portrayal of the Jewish woman character. (5/22/2016)

New Girl (on Fox) Schmidt’s Jewish mother, played by Nora Dunn, returned for the season ending 2-part wedding episodes. (Description forthcoming) (9/11/2016)

On Chasing Life (ABC Family) “Ready or Not” episode, written by Joni Lefkowitz, had an odd exchange, especially for a show which has no Jewish women characters this season. The mother’s know-it-all gay BFF “William” (played by Gregg German) espies a new dress by insecure neophyte Brit black dresss designer: So what’s it for? Like a bat mitzvah? “Beth” (played by Aisha Dee) has an odd reference: Yeah, maybe Sarah Jessica Parker's bat mitzvah. “William”: I'm just saying, 'cause it looks so buttoned up. But maybe that's the style these days. She snipes back about his track suit; he’s defends his running outfit with a parting Okay, well shabbat shalom. But when he leaves, she bemoans to the supportive younger daughter “Brenna Carver” (played by Haley Ramm) wearing it: He's right. You look like you're going to a bat mitzvah. (9/25/2015)

This first season of Shades of Blue (on NBC), “Detective David Sapirstein” (played by Santino Fontana) is first seen caring for his mother (played by Kathryn Kates) in “Fall of Man” episode, story by Marta Gené Camps , teleplay by Mike Daniels &Wolfe Coleman. He is arrested by the FBI and he gets them to bring him home, but Mom’s not there yet: She’s got book club today. She should be back. Both speaking with heavy New York City accents: David, who are these people? He: They're friends, Ma. She’s suspicious: I know your friends. He: I got some new ones. Sit down , Ma. She: Who is that man, telling you to hurry with your own mother? He: Listen to me. I'm gonna have to go away for a while. She: What are you saying? David, are you in trouble? He: No, it's work. It's a big case. I'm the guy they want on it. She, with some sarcasm: You don't do big cases. You're a neighborhood policeman. You come home after your shift. He: Listen. Look at me, Mom. You'll be fine. I need you to know that, okay? She: I don't like this, David. You’re acting strange. While he uses getting her heart meds as a distraction to escape, things do get stranger – his corrupt captain tries to kill him. (3/28/2016)

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Artemis (on FX) I’ve been watching this funny, frequently outrageous satire of political correctness since the first season in 2005, but don’t remember if “Artemis” (played by Artemis Pebdani) was portrayed as Jewish before “Being Frank”, written by Scott Marder. In an atypical gimmick of being inside “Frank” (played by Danny DeVito)’s crazed, amnesiac, usually more scheming, head, he goes to her apartment seeking a rug. She greets him: We’re sitting shiva for my Aunt Joyce. He’s thinking that he’s horrified to be around a roomful of so many Jews, though his eye is caught by young “Lisa” in a short black dress walking across the room. “Artemis” introduces him: Mom and Dad, this is my part-time lover Frank Reynolds. His head is bursting (literally in the mirror), and she offers him drugs from the medicine cabinet, before he runs back, grabs the rug from under the food buffet, and runs out of her apartment, all the time mumbling against Jews. (3/26/2016)

Amy Schumer (on Comedy Central) Not only was this 4th season the weakest, despite a pointedly funny episode about gun control (in activism spurred by the TrainWreck shooting), most were too much about fame – with none of the kind of Jewish references in earlier seasons. The closest she came was in “Psychopath Test”, where author Jon Ronson interviews about telling an ISIS leader he was Jewish as better than being an atheist – and she has no comment. (6/25/2016)

Saving Hope – Dr. Sydney Katz (Canadian CTV series shown in U.S. on ION) My hypothesis that if I barely watch even a mediocre hospital show with supremely attractive people, let alone taking place at “Hope Zion” in Toronto, a Jewish woman may eventually show up – one did, starting in the 2nd episode of the 3rd season, shown in Canada in the season beginning September 2014, and in the U.S. from April 2016. So now I’ll have to catch up, at least with her episodes.
She was introduced in “Kiss Me Goodbye” (Season 3 Episode 2) written by Adam Pettle, “Dr. Maggie Lin” (played by Julia Taylor Ross, who is Eurasian though her character’s ethnicity hasn’t been mentioned in the episodes I’ve seen) walks in to see a new young, bespectacled woman in a white coat: Where 's the real doctor? “Dr. Sydney Katz” (played by Stacey Farber): I am the real doctor. “Lin”: Are you Dr. Katz? “Katz” shoots off a staccato of questions that “Lin” barely has a chance to answer monosyllabically in between: Are you Jewish? Because you answer a question with a question. . .I have an Israeli disposition. I keep a kosher home and leave early on Fridays and when I get married I will probably wear a wig. Do you have a problem with any of that? Good. Later they are faced with a brain-damaged pregnant patient. “Lin”: Have you ever seen a case like this? “Katz”, using terminology an Orthodox Jew wouldn’t, let alone with drawn out emphasis: No, thank God. “Lin”: It's bad luck. “Katz”: I don't believe in luck. “Lin”: What do you believe in? “Katz”: God and medicine- in that order! “Lin”: What if she doesn't recover? “Katz”: We work hard and pray that she does. She’s shocked that the husband, a reluctant father-to-be, does not care about saving the baby and will not get permission for an emergency C-Section. “Katz” argues with him vehemently: Rail at us, God, or the baby but it needs to come out! Your son will die! To her medical colleagues: Is everyone just throwing in the towel? “Dr. Melanda Tolliver” (played by the apparently African-North American Glenda Braganza): He's next of kin and the baby's father. It’s his decision. While they’re calm, “Kaz” is apoplectic: There's a life in there! Is no one willing to fight for that? A male doctor: It's not our fight. “Katz” keeps arguing: yes it is! We're doctors! I don't accept that --Sorry. “Lin”s ex, a psychologist, “Dr. Gavin Murphy” (played by Kristopher Turner) observes: That's the new staff ob-gyn? She seems. . “Lin”: Young? Shrink: Passionate. “Lin”: That's one word for it. Her ex’s reply is in conext of their break-up: Better than being unfeeling I guess. The spirits that haunt this coma-patient-spirits-wandering hospital convince the husband to permit the C-section.
Subsequent episodes show her to be the most humorless Jewish woman on TV since the “Lilith” on Cheers for whom I named this page. [Examples forthcoming]
“The Parent Trap” (Season 3, Episode 11), written by John Krizanc & Amanda Fahey, briefly showed “Katz” after she is engaged to “Herschel Hoffman” (played by Jonathan Silver, though not seen in this episode). In the doctor’s lounge, “Dr. Charlie Harris” (Michael Shanks, a primary reason I watch the show) asks her: So are you and Herschel planning a honeymoon? She still doesn’t look Orthodox enough to reply, even so unenthusiastically: Honeymoon isn't really Jewish tradition. We have “Sheva Berakhot Week” instead. What it lacks in scattered rose petals it makes up for in dinners with people you don 't know. She asks if “Dr. Dawn Bell” (played by Michelle Nolden) will let her take the week off. “Charlie”: See that's the thing - Dawn never took time off for a honeymoon. “Sydney”: You mean your honeymoon? [Commentary on “Sydney” in the rest of the season forthcoming] (updated 5/22/2016)

This season of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (on PBS) included an interchange that’s typical of this series’ uneasy way to deal with its celebrities’ Jewish roots. Bi-racial comedienne/actress Maya Rudolph participated in this show to learn more about her father’s Jewish roots, as well as her African-American mother’s. She knew her paternal grandfather eschewed Judaism, but she learned that her great-grandfather, originally from Vilna (accompanied by a description of Russia’s Pale of Settlement) founded a successful synagogue in Pittsburgh. Though there was no discussion of their wives and I didn’t catch her grandmother’s name on her animated family tree to presume if she was Jewish, Rudolph’s reaction just indicated her ignorance: “Why wasn’t I bat mitzvahed?” Two elderly men, nonogenerian New Haven-born TV producer Norman Lear and Canadian-born octogenarian architect Frank Gehry (né Golberg), considerably teared up at seeing photographs and immigration information on their “bubbe”s, who both left the anti-Semitism of the Pale of Settlement, and both cited their love and support for encouraging their creativity, especially over criticism from their fathers.
In “The Long Way Home” episode, Julianna Margulies, of all participants ever in this series, was the most enthusiastically Jewish-identified, proudly describing her return to Jewish ritual at her wedding “to a Jewish man” when she was seven months pregnant, and in how they are raising their son in the tradition. She punctuated every finding about her family’s history with exclamations such as“That’s so Jewish!”, including “Jewish scholars” finding that her family, who came to the U.S. after expulsion from Romania, had basically the same last name for 500 years, heading back to Rabbi in Bavaria. While her family myth was that they had previously been expelled from Spain as Sephardic Jews, she was thrilled that the DNA tests showed she is virtually 100% Ashkenazi Jew. But unusual for this series, the tracing of her maternal side touched her more emotionally, when an eyewitness account confirmed her grandmother’s oft-repeated recollection of being saved from a sinking boat and being gifted the sustenance of milk by rescuers.
In “Maps of Stars”, Dustin Hoffman, who at almost 80 years old knew nothing of his family background, is overcome to find out out his great-grandmother Libba Hoffman’s heroic efforts in Russia to find out the fate of her husband and son, who were each murdered by the cheka during the Russian Revolution, and then survive her own imprisonment in a labor camp to emigrate first to Argentina, and finally to join her family in Chicago. (And that his grandmother Esther sued the USSR for compensation for the executions.) Her story not only brings him to tears (“That’s a movie!”), but to passionately declare “I’m a Jew!” over how their sacrifices, her heroism in particular, made his existence and success possible, and emphasized to him his heritage and identity. He repeats “I am a Jew. I’ll wear that on my sleeve.”
In "The Pioneers", Gloria Steinem learned about her Jewish feminist paternal grandmother, as I detail in my commentary on the bio-pic The Glorias (updated 3/9/2016/ 12/30/2020)

In Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (New York-set sitcom on FXX) episode “Hard Out Here for A Pimp, written by series creator and star Denis Leary, band manager “Ira Feinbaum” (played by Josh Pais) advises the boomer rocker about influencing the dating of his daughter “Gigi” who is now lead singer for their re-tooled band: This is basic parenting 101, John. I mean, Steve the monkey could Google this shit. I wanted my daughter to marry a Jewish guy. You know what I told her? “Johnny Rock” (played by Leary): Don't marry a Jew? Manager: Now I have a son-in-law named Noah. But when “Johnny” and his daughter get upset that the hipster rocker he manipulated into dating is too much like himself, the manager admonishes: This is what happens when you interfere. (9/5/2015)

On Playing House, “Cashmere Burkha” episode, written by Gavin Steckler, “Emma Crawford” (played by Jessica St. Clair) is at her suburban JCC when she bumps into an old high school classmate [OK, that describes everyone in the town] – “Bread Man Dan” is now a rabbi (played by cute Kyle Bornheimer). They start dating, but he explains: One of the complications of dating a rabbi is that I have 300 people in my congregation who want to get all up in my business. “WASP” (as she describes herself) “Emma”, who said all she knows about Judaism is a community theater production of Fiddler on the Roof: So you want to keep it quiet? . . Music to my ears. I don’t need a bunch of Jewish moms kubutzing about my business. He corrects: It’s kibbitzing. And they go back to kissing. By the next episode, he agrees to go public that he’s dating “a shiksa”, as he describes her. (8/23/2015)

The Walking Dead There was zero indication over two seasons that the Mayor of Alexandria “Deanna Monroe” was Jewish, but the brilliant actress Tovah Feldshuh is so Jewishly identified that her friend actor Jason Alexander made the putative perception explicit when he guested on the mid-season finale of Talking Dead in describing her character’s loud (though pantomimed) final heroic self-sacrifice: “Classic Jewish mother scream! Out of bullets – so what do you do? Yell Go to bed!" Andrew Lincoln (who plays “Sheriff Rick Grimes”) described her character as: “a smart, adaptable, tenacious, and authentic person.” The dedication of the “In Memoriam” was “You taught them how to live.” Feldshuh said she drew on her experience playing Golda Meir (in her long-running one-woman show of William Gibson’s play Golda’s Balcony and in O Jerusalem) and talking to Meir’s children in reflecting on a leader as a woman and parent – though she didn’t cite Meir specifically in the interview, which probably went past most fans. Demonstrating the push-ups they quietly did before each take and noting that the town’s unprepared constituents “were not idiots - we were innocents”, Feldshuh proudly described that her character became “a samurai” – a word I have never heard applied before to a Jewish mother! I was reminded of Moses’s concluding blessings as “Deanna” gave final, humane, and encouraging advice to both “Rick” and the other female samurai “Michonne” (played by Danai Gurira). (11/30/2015)

Banshee (on Cinemax) was very racially and ethnically diverse in its criminals and victims within Pennsylvania’s Amish Country, but a Jewish woman didn’t appear until the final season, and then only very briefly, in “Bloodletting”, written by Chad Feehan. “Parole Commissioner Sheryl Golden” (played by Amy Marsalis) is identified as Jewish by taunting backwoods White Supremacist leader “Randall Watts” (played by Chance Kelly), who threatens her daughter “Shoshanna” – and then suddenly gets paroled. (9/11/2016)

On Belief, Oprah Winfrey’s docu-series on her OWN Channel, featured 3 young and somewhat naïve but at least diverse, Jewish women. In the 2nd episode “Love’s Story” the official description in the press notes is: “We meet Rena Greenberg and Yermi Udkoff of Brooklyn, New York as they prepare to marry in the Hasidic faith [sic], which believes every person is born with one half of a soul, and only through marriage can the two souls reunite with each other.” With no distinction made between folkloric tradition and theology, she seems so unquestioning conventional. During her wedding preparations, Rina glows about only knowing her future partner for two months in order to share love and the continuation of a Jewish family. As she goes on about “soul mates” like out of the most puerile romance novels, she insists this will not just be a wedding party, but the start of something new. As they reach over the barrier between the men and women at their reception, Oprah intones about “It’s the most important day of her life; now she is complete. . .As the Torah commands they will be fruitful and multiply.” In the 4th episode “A Change Is Gonna Come”, the press notes identify Shane Fallon only as “secular”, but the narration presents a more complicated background. While her father Howard is described as “raised Episcopalian. Like her mother, Shane was raised Jewish.” Which is particularly significant for when she says: “I was very much my mother's child.” Both are still grieving from the mother Julie’s death from cancer 5 years ago, and the sister Kendra’s death in a plane crash in Nepal a year ago. Oprah’s narration: “Neither is observant, but decided to try something radical to get on with their lives.” – they go to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. They post pictures of their 2 loved ones in the temporary “temple” and ritually mourn through its burning. In the penultimate episode “The Practice”, the Polyphony Orchestra in Jerusalem features two apparently secular teenagers -- 18 year old Jewish cellist Hagit, who looks like Mayim Bialik, and 17 year old Muslim flutist Mais, who, ironically, looks like the TV stereotype of a Jewish woman with her long, dark, curly hair. Hagit: “When you get comfortable with the music, you make jokes, and you become friends, and it just comes together. . .People are afraid of each other and don't want to know the other. I hope hearing the concert they will change their minds a little.” Mais: “We forget all that and work together as humans and musicians. She's really great and I really love her.” When I realized the writing credits are oddly not in the press notes, I only noted one episode’s, but probably applies to the whole series: Supervising writers - James Bernanke and Sheri Salata, writers Michael Davie, Danielle Anastasion, Courtney Hutchens and Erica Sashin.
The orchestra members’ experience seems outdated compared to documentarian Danae Elon’s witnessing of increasing estrangement in P.S. Jerusalem (So, nu: my commentary on the Jewish women.) (previewed at 2015 Doc NYC Festival) (updated 11/5/2015)

On Who Do You Think You Are? (on TLC), actress Ginnifer Goodwin, traced her non-Jewish father’s family. At the grave of her newly discovered great-grandmother, she respectfully put a stone on her headstone: Well you aren't Jewish, but I am, and she explained the tradition. The penultimate episode of the season may have both surprised and reinforced stereotypes about actress/singer Lea Michele. Usually perceived as Jewish, including by Jewish media watchers, she introduces her genealogical search by emphatically explaining that she was raised Catholic by her Italian mother and was always close with her Bronx family, but doesn’t know much about her Jewish father’s family, except that they were Sephardic via Greece or Turkey. At the Center for Jewish History, a scholar of Sephardic history explains her family came from the large Jewish community in Salonika, which after World War I was shifted from Turkish to Greek control. At Ellis Island, she finds the transcript of the 1918 deportation hearting her great-grandmother Bonita (Bessie) was subjected to because she was illiterate, a recent Congressional mandate, and her papers probably claimed to be heading to Montreal to get around that restriction. The testimony also reveals that she was a widow, and the man who was testifying that he intended to marry her that day (he’s listed as Moishe – a name Lea doesn’t understand, knowing him as Morris) was the brother of her late husband. The narrator then intones that this was a "long held Jewish tradition known as Yibban" – but only Wikipedia says so, and that is even quizzical in the Israeli haredi sect fiction Fill the Void (Lemale et ha'halal) (So, nu: my commentary on the Jewish women). But in learning about her great-great-grandmother Miriam, she is not only told of the Great Fire of Salonika in 1917 that decimated the Jewish community, but how in March 1943 the entire community of about 50,000 was transported in 18 trainfuls to Auschwitz. In a surprise visit, an Israeli cousin who she had only vaguely heard about meets her at a Lower East Side synagogue with the information that only one member of her family survived – this woman’s father, sibling of her great-grandmother, and that he had registered Miriam, with a photograph, and the rest of their family with the Yad Vashem Memorial. Her father remembers last meeting this woman in 1984, two years before Lea was born. The star beams at the end: “Now I feel Italian and Jewish!” and assures her father: “You are very Jewish!” (updated 5/5/2016)

Madam Secretary – Nadine Tolliver in the 2nd season (on CBS) has only hint of her personal life, as played by Bebe Neuwirth. The closest to any possible remembrance that she’s Jewish was in the holiday episode “The Greater Good”, where the “Secretary of State Teresa McCord” (played by Téa Leoni) was carefully filmed talking in front of her office’s holiday decoration of a menorah with candles, after she went by the many Christmas trees. “Nadine” had a frisson of a personal life, in “Unity Node”, written by Matt Ward. She’s surprised that “NASA Administrator Glenn” (there is confusion as to whether that is his first or last name, as played by John Pankow, who is frequently perceived by audiences as Jewish and plays Jewish characters) has been contacting her : You know that I would never trade on our personal relationship unless it was an emergency, right? She: Glenn, we don't exactly have a personal relationship anymore. He”: I know. She: We had three lovely months, followed by a sudden, painful lunch. . . You know I was coming out of a very long and very difficult relationship. I’m sorry. It turns out he actually does have a crisis that needs the Secretary’s attention – an emergency situation aboard the International Space Station. After a successful intervention, they toast each other on a video link. He: You got to admit, we make a pretty good team. She: We do. He, flirtatiously: So lunch? (updated 1/29/2016)

In the 3rd season of Masters of Sex (on Showtime), there was finally a Jewish patient in St. Louis in the 10th episode “Through A Glass Darkly”, written by Steven Levenson and Esta Spaulding, set soon after the publication of Human Sexual Response in 1966. “Lois Weiland” (played by Sascha Alexander) is used for some comic relief, albeit as a typical female patient, when “Dr. Masters” (played by Michael Sheen) has recklessly proceeded with dysfunctional sexuality research, here using male surrogate “Lester Linden” (played by Kevin Christy). The disapproving “Johnson” (played by Lizzy Kaplan) observes the session in the lab’s “bedroom”: Has there been any improvement in the dyspareunia?. . . But intercourse is still painful? “Lester” is following protocol for “manual manipulation”, but “Lois” keeps talking about getting to know him: Maybe if we could spend more time together outside of the lab? It's my nephew's bar mitzvah on Saturday. Why don't you come with me?. . My parents will be there, and my nephew, Gene. He's worked so hard on his Torah portion. He has the voice of an angel. “Lester” make an ineffectual excuse: I actually have another bar mitzvah to go to, unfortunately. It's my, um -- my grandmother's. “Masters” stops the session. “Johnson”: Obviously, something is not working, aside from Lester's complete ignorance of world religions. “Lester”: I was raised around Catholics. . . It's not the first time I've been asked about my scar or where I'm from or how soon I can meet their parents. (1/18/2016)

On Legends (on TNT), based on Robert Littell’s novel that I haven’t read, the flashback to Sean Bean’s central undercover spy character in 1981 reveals he was then “Alex” (played by Ross Anderson), with the same rich northern England accent. In “The Legend of Tamir Zakayev”, written by Chris Levinson, he’s helped by mysterious recruiters to get into the University of Leeds, where the sexy “Rachel” (played, I think, by Amy Wren) flirts with him outrageously at a noisy party: Where the hell have you been?. . You’re a boarding school wanker -- admit it! He: Guilty as charged. She: Well, today's your lucky day. Seeing as you're a fellow fresher, I've decided to take on your sorry cause. Introduce you to the ways of the world. He: Well, where do we start? She: With a jump in the canal. Minus our clothes. He evidently gets arrested, and has to be bailed out by his benefactors. After he’s spent considerable time naked in bed with her making love, such that he’s late to read for his Russian literature tutor, he’s asked to join the Secret Service. But his handler [I lose track of who is who with all the time-shifting flashbacks] warns: Your girl Rachel. You know her parents are members of the Communist Party. You had your fun, now break it off. “Alex” bristles: You can’t tell me how to run my life! I won’t leave her. I love her! Says the agent, bitterly, who is being blackmailed for his gay affairs: You take it from me, my boy, there is no room in this business for love. In the next episode, “The Second Legend of Dmitry Petrovich”, written by Raf Green, in the flashback to “Dockray, Northeast England – 1985”, “Alex” is driving her to a house in the country that comes with his new teaching job and shows her the rooms, amidst a lot of kissing: Perfect for a nursery. But her concern that it’s “a bit isolated”, is borne out when she’s driving on an empty, winding road and her brakes stop working – crash! Next, the camera focuses on a big Jewish star on a coffin in a funeral led by a rabbi intoning kaddish, which I’m pretty sure was the first we even knew she was Jewish, let alone having no last name, and the orphan “Alex” is wearing a kippah with her family. His handler shows up: The Service is still willing to take you on. “Alex” walks away angrily: Now that my Commie wife is dead!. . .You decided she was getting in the way, cocking up your plans for me, so you murdered her! (I must not have noticed their wedding rings on the house tour.) His handler, earnestly lies: It’s a tragedy. I came because I wanted you to know I’m here for you. The irony is revealed at the end of the season – he was actually Russian. (updated 1/8/2016)

On The Enfield Haunting (British mini-series, shown in the U.S. on A & E) While I wasn’t paying close attention, it wasn’t until the concluding 3rd episode brought the poltergeist hunter “Morris/Maurice Grosse” (played by Timothy Spall), based on a real person from a true 1970’s story and book This House Is Haunted to the grave of his daughter “Janet”, and he explains the Jewish symbols and ritual to the “haunted” girl he thought he had been helping. I did not pick up any clues that his grieving wife “Betty” (played by Juliet Stevenson) was Jewish when she constantly nags him to give up his efforts to contact their daughter in the decidedly not Jewish afterlife. (10/31/2015)

In Royal Pains (on USA) 7th season, that the central family of two brothers in the Hamptons are Jewish is barely ever considered, so it was oddly stuck in “The Prince of Nucleotides”, written by Carol Flint. The younger brother “Evan R. Lawson” (played by Paulo Costanzo), dejected that he has a low sperm count, brightens up when his blonde shiksa wife “Brooke” (played by Paige Collins), announces that as part of her effort to find her biological parents’ roots she has had a genetic test that shows she’s “10 -12 percent Jewish.” He’s so thrilled he not only wants to keep trying to get her pregnant, but wants to let his brother and father know. But she’s already gone in a different direction. In exploring her own adoption, she’s now interested in adoption – and has scheduled a prospective parent meeting with a very pregnant African-American teenager, who proclaims to them that she’s very religious, so the Jewish references disappear. (6/11/2015)

Grantchester Set in 1950’s Cambridge, in Season 2, Episode 4, written by Joshua St Johnston, featured a story line not apparently taken from the source material of the mystery short stories by James Runcie, but combines two stereotypes of Jewish women common to British series of the period that migrate to PBS – rich and/or a Holocaust survivor: “Anna Herzl Lawson” was an Auschwitz survivor and inexplicably somehow got her family’s fortune out of Hungary afterwards. Dead now of an apparent suicide, she is now apparently haunting her husband. [Details to follow] (4/26/2016)

Chicago P. D. (on NBC) comes out of the same production team as the Law & Orders, but it’s taken three seasons for their trademark dreadful Jewish mother stereotype to show up in any of the newer Chicago triptychs. “In a Duffel Bag”, written by Jamie Pachino, not only had a vicious one-dimensionally cruel witch as “Deborah Meyer” (played by Kate Hodge), henpecking her husband “Ben” (Steven Skybell), but she horribly dominates her just-turned-18 daughter “Tana” ( played by auburn-haired Julia Rose Duray – I wonder if they meant to name the character “Tanya”). “Detective Erin Lindsey” (played by Sophia Bush) makes the impression worse with nasty, revengeful comments about her. [Details forthcoming] (8/12/2016)

The Good Wife (on CBS) the savvy daughter “Marissa Gold” (played by Sarah Steele) of political insider “Eli Gold” (played by Alan Cumming) returned from Israel into a recurring presence. First on the episode “Payback”, written by Stephanie Sengupta, she focused on helping her dad. [Details forthcoming] (updated 4/26/2016)

Homeland (on Showtime) The first female Mossad agent didn’t show up until the 5th season of this spy series, “All About Allison”, written by Ron Nyswaner. She was a tough administrator with her dark hair in a tight bun,“Tova” (played by Hadar Ratzon Rotem – who also starred in the Israeli series this is based on Prisoners of War (Hatufim), though I’ll have to figure out how her roles compare). [Sole scene description forthcoming.] (8/6/2016)

Mistresses– Ariella Greenburg in the 3rd season (on ABC) (summer soap opera) Just discovered “Ari” (played by Carmel Amit) minutes before the 4th season started. Commentary forthcoming. (5/30/2016)

On the Aquarius (on NBC, on DVD) penultimate episode of S1 “(Please Let Me Love You and) It Won’t”, written by Alexandra Cunningham and Sara Gamble, featured an unusual Jewish woman character in 1968 San Francisco, “Rachel” (played by Jade Tailor, whose father is Israeli) is first seen in handcuffs being hauled into the police station, demanding to see “Detective Hodiak” (played by David Duchovny), who, as catnip to every woman in the series, flashes back to seeing her dance onstage in a strip club. [Details forthcoming] (updated 9/25/2015)

Madoff – Ruth Madoff and others (on ABC) Richard Dreyfuss dominated with his powerful, but surprisingly not charming enough contrast with his cackling voice-over, performance over the 4-hr mini-series (Part 1 – “Millions to Billions”; Part 2 – “Catch Me If You Cancer”; Part 3 – “Redemptions” and Part 4 – “”Fallout”), based on The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth (2009) by Brian Ross of ABC. After so many Madoff imitation scoundrels in TV fiction that avoided any Jewish identity, writer Ben Robbins and director Frank De Felitta particularly use the Jewish women coterie around him to look like a clannish Jewishness (probably to emphasize his betrayal), though Blythe Danner is miscast as his up-from-Queens wife Ruth. The perception of his wife follows the secretary’s impressions of her In God We Trust. (The whistleblower in Chasing Madoff is also featured prominently.) The last three episodes frequently and extensively, repeat this bridal image of his niece/legal compliance officer Shana (played by Jamie Carroll), daughter of his guilt-ridden brother who is seen asking his rabbi for ethical advice, being raised in a chair at her wedding to an SEC attorney over the loud strains of an unseen band singing and playing Hava Nagila (and I’m trying to ID the excellent version): The “After the Fall” news report broadcast the same night on where are they now included contrasting clips from Mark Madoff & Stephanie Mikesell’s 2004 wedding video – with not a single Jewish image; Dreyfuss’s character derisively calls the blonde 2nd wife of Mark (played in the telefilm by Tom Lipinski) “the shiksa” (as played by Annie Heise). (He dismisses Andrew’s fiancée Catherine Hooper (played by Lyne Renee) as “the Barbie Doll”, but that could also have been in reaction to this son being estranged from his presumably Jewish 1st wife Deborah West.) Now a widow and mother of his two young children after Mark’s suicide, she has out a memoir The End of Normal, where she doubtless continues to excoriate her mother-in-law for favoring her husband over her sons. (Details forthcoming about the Jewish women extended family members/clients and Hadassah CFO lover.) (updated 2/7/2016)

Marvel’s Agent Carter – Ana Jarvis in the 2nd season (on ABC) As first announced at a NY Comic Con panel, British butler-of-all-trades “Edwin Jarvis”s unseen, Jewish refugee wife “Ana” was cast by Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek; producer Jeph Loeb on the panel described: “Lotte brings ease, sincerity and warmth to the role that's just perfect." But I was surprised that she is now a regular character. (The showrunner is going with the comics spelling as the more European “Ana”, so I will too.) Executive Producer Michele Fazekas explained in a Marvel interview for fans: “It was something we went back and forth on in the first season of whether or not to show her. But we thought if Peggy [Carter]’s going to be moving to L.A. and staying [with Jarvis], you can’t not show her. It gave us a great opportunity to [find out], who does Jarvis marry? Who is that person? It was really fun to develop that relationship more.” Now living in Los Angeles in 1947, “Ana”, in the European tradition for portraying Jewish women, is a redhead, who faces every spy adventure her husband (played by James D’Arcy) is involved with for his employer “Mr. Stark” with complete equanimity – and very open affection for her husband. He praises her to “Agent Peggy Carter” (played by Hayley Atwell) before we meet her: My wife, Anna, has a very modern sense of style. I'm certain she'll have picked out the perfect outfit for you for a covert operation at the races. He introduces them – “Anna”, he narrates: She hugs. As to “Carter: She does not hug. “Anna” crooks her finger at him before he leaves them: “Jarvis”: She’s an embarrassing creature.. “Anna” chuckles: He’s too easy. “Carter”: I suppose I was expecting someone more . . “Ana”: Like Mr. Jarvis? In a girdle?. . .I've selected a few potential ensembles for the racetrack, but I've also sewed you this. A garter. That's also a holster. “Carter” chuckles: You are fantastic! When “Jarvis” and “Carter” are caught in a gun battle, his first thought is his wife: I'm worried about the aesthetic. Ana's absolutely mad about my profile.
For anyone who missed hearing her husband’s tale of her back story in the 1st season, she summarized at the end of Part 2 of the sseason premiere “A View in the Dark”, written by Eric Pearson and Lindsey Allen, though just implying she’s Jewish: Edwin only knew me a few weeks before he had forged papers, gone AWOL, stolen a plane, and helped me escape the Third Reich. It doesn't take long to realize you've met someone special. That’s after their affectionate exchange after fencing together in the opening. He: Anna's been my sparring partner for the past 12 months. She knows all my strengths and weaknesses. “Anna”, with a kiss: Thank you, darling. He's never more lethal than when he's flat on his back.Tea's on. (updated 1/21/2016)

Shoshanna Shapiro in the 5th season of Girls (on HBO) The season promotion showed Shosh Abroad, with commentary by her creator Lena Dunham and her portrayer Zosia Mamet on her ambition and how the world perceives her, and, by extension, a contemporary young Jewish woman. Until I do an overview of “Shosh” this season, she had a couple of pointed exchanges that reflected what this series considers her Jewish characteristics. Dunham said in a post-episode analysis that co-creator Jenni Konner visited Japan and exclaimed it as “a country full of Shoshs” so was determined to send her there for that comparison. The girlishness? The squeakiness? The crazy styles? (At one point “Shosh” with dyed blonde hair ponders: Did I create this country in my mind?) In the key episode of the season for her “Japan”, after she was shocked to be laid off she confronted the Japanese co-workers she thought were her girlfriends: I don't want to go back to America. And I don't know Ashley Tisdale. I saw her once at a gynecologist appointment and I tried to explain that to you guys, but you misunderstood and so I just let it go. Co-worker: Then why don't you stay? “Shosh”: Because I can't afford to, okay? My parents aren't rich. They didn't invent Chūhai Co-worker: Oh, really? You seem very wealthy because of your spoiled attitude. “Shosh”: Yeah. That's just how Americans act. We're kind of assholes.
Back in Brooklyn in “Homeward Bound”, written by Murray Miller, she rages at her ex-boyfriend “Scott” (Jason Ritter) where she’s hanging around in his favorite sushi restuarant: I kind of just got back and all these questions are, like, seriously stressing me out, and I'm currently reading about how to get on welfare, so I don't really have time for this. “Scott: You're going on welfare? She: I don't know. I'm thinking about it, okay? There aren't exactly, like, a wealth of options for an NYU graduate with experience in many aspects of brand management. “Scott”: You can't just take government resources that are for actually needy families just because you didn't like your job in Japan. “She” very sarcastic: Okay, so now I don't deserve food stamps because I'm Jewish. In the penultimate season episode “Love Stories”, which also included Jenny Slate as a guest star former dorm mate of Lena Dunham’s “Hannah”, “Shosh” visits her ex’s coffee shop: Shosh, is that really you? Oh, Shosh. Look at you. I can't believe it's you. You're a full-grown woman now. . .We've been outpaced, outshined, outmaneuvered, out everything by those Neo-hippie gender-neutral monsters. It's very bleak, Shosh. Hermie says that if business doesn't pick up in here, he's gonna turn this place into a billiards store. “Shosh”: Okay, you have to fight this, Ray. You have to have a wartime attitude. Maybe ask for some help, something I know you're fucking terrible at, but ask for it anyways. “Ray”: Who's gonna help me, Shosh? Who? … “She”: Okay, I'm gonna help you. Seriously, what do you think I was doing in Japan? I mean, other than learning origami and eating candy that tastes like other candy. I do marketing, Ray. It is my area of expertise. I went to motherfucking college for it, so, you know, at least let me have a crack at that. “Ray”: We do make a pretty good team. She then goes across the street in somewhat of disguise to do market research.
In the finale “I Love You Baby”, written by Dunham, Konner, and Judd Apatow, she presents her proposal to the coffe shop owner “Hermie” (played by Colin Quinn), who first complains: The city's no place for people like us any more. “Shosh”: Okay, Hermie, I know it feels that way, but, no. Those hipsters are a very specific subculture, a vocal minority, if you will, like the Westboro Baptist Church. But they may all be related for all we know. This is what I propose. Ray's as a destination for the anti-hipster. “Hermie”: You're talking about rebranding? “Shosh”: Oh, a heavy rebranding. Like when Kentucky Fried Chicken just became KFC so people would forget that they were, you know, eating Kentucky food? “Hermie”: Gentlemen, it is high time we start selling coffee to people with jobs. Her successful anti-hipster marketing plan includes signs such as: “Trust the Government”. “No man buns”, and “Chemicals keep you alive”. “Shosh”: Okay, I have some news that is going to rock your Mephistos right off your socks. “The New York Times” Thursday Style section wants to come here and do a piece on us next week. They love the hipster-hate angle. They want to do a whole profile on our transformation, so I bought a few shirts and I put them in your office and I hung them in like descending - order of preference… “Hermie”: I know I told you to lean in. But you've gone too far. Now I want you to lean out. “Shosh”: Oh, my God, are you firing me? “Hermie”: No, no. We've made more money this week than the past five months. It's just you're a very intense person. You've got a powerful energy and it's too much. I need you to take it down a notch. A guy walks in with a top bun: Bye, sir. Your kind are not welcome here. Read the sign. Out. “Shosh: Hermie, we cannot actually turn people away. That's discrimination. We just have to, like, you know, glare at them and make them super uncomfortable and bully them until they leave of their own volition. “Hermie”: Listen to me, muffin. From now on, anybody who walks through that door with a bun on top of their head or tattoos that were not acquired during a naval adventure on the South Pacific, we treat 'em like a hippie at Disneyland in '68. This is a haven for normal people working men and ladies. Free refills, everybody. This week only. We're taking back the night. You're either with me or you're against me. “Shosh”: I am so with you, Hermie. Please save me all of those magical quotes for “The New York Times”. In the closing montage they dance, and Dunham in the post-show analysis cites how “Shosh” is now maturing and growing up.
Also in the finale, a putatively Jewish woman character returned from the first season in the finale “Hannah”s college dorm-mate “Tally Schifrin” (played by Jenny Slate, with full-on Jewish curly hair). “Hannah”: I've been so fucking jealous of you. “Tally”: What? You're are you kidding? “Hannah: You're like the bar against which I've measured everything, you know? It's like, we graduated from college four years ago, and so I calculate, "Oh, it's been four years. Tally's published two books of essays and a novel." “Hannah”: And I did a book of poetry as well. “Hannah”: And what have I done? You know? What have I done with my life besides get not one but two strains of HPV and gain and lose a total of 33 pounds? “Tally”: Oh, man.That's so - crazy to be jealous of me. Cut the shit, seriously. Yeah, I guess everyone is jealous of me. Do you know I Google myself every day? It's so gross, but I do, and I just wanna see if, like, Gawker or whoever they are has written some snarky thing about how much of a hack I am or if even there's just, like, a pretty picture of me in the "Financial Times" roundup of books of the year. I need to see how other people see me because it's the only way that I can see myself. “Hannah”: I wake up every morning and I think, "Well, okay, what would Tally Schifrin do? “Tally”: Tally Schifrin is not even me now. She's just, like, this thing that I've created. She's a monster that I've made and I have to feed, and she feeds on praise and controversy. And it's exhausting and boring at once. And I'm too smart to be exhausted and bored. And now I have a book of essays due, and not to be, like, boo-hoo about it, but it's like what the fuck am I gonna write an essay on? All I do is Google myself and smoke weed and, um, masturbate with an electric toothbrush. “Hannah: You could afford a vibrator. “Tally”: I know. I really don't want one and that makes me feel mentally ill. Today's, like, the most fun I've had in like 17 months. “Hannah”: I just thought you woke up in the morning in, like, a ray of sunshine and, like, - birds dressed you and you just, like, came in your pants from all the accolades, and then people handed you awards on your way to, like, a fancy dinner.…”Tally”: Look at you. You've had all these, like, boyfriends and jobs and moments. And you've lived all this truth. It didn't feel like very much while it was happening. But it is much. And you have so much to say. Then they both get stoned on weed. (updated 2/14/2017)

The Fosters – Emma Kurtzman in her 3rd season (on the renamed FreeForm) was a surprise return – to teach another liberal lesson without a direct reference to her being Jewish. As played by Amanda Leighton, she was not seen in the first half of the season, but showed up in “First Impressions”, written by Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige, as the campaign manager for “Mariana Adams Foster” (played by Cierra Ramirez) for college-application-purpose junior class president. But in walks “Lexi Rivera” (played by Bianca Santos), who had left due to visa problems, and they hug in excitement. The candidate tries to involve both of her friends in selecting the photo for her poster. “Emma”: The left one, definitely. You like someone who can really get things done. “Lexi”: Yeah, like put people to sleep. I say right. You look super hot. But I'm not your campaign manager, so.. “Emma”: That's right. You're not. “Mariana”: But, you know, Lexi's just trying to help, and I think she kind of does have a point. We can't be boring. “Emma”, sharply: I don't think smart is boring. I don't think that caring about what matters is boring. I don't think that you need to be silly and stupid to be sexy. But if that's the kind of campaign that you want to run, then maybe I'm not the girl for the job. I should probably get home anyway. Talk to you later. “Lexi”: Wow! She’s intense! “Mariana”: But she's right. I think I should stick with Emma as my campaign manager... Just Emma. . . I'm so happy you're back, but I think it's best if I just have one vision, you know? . . . Sorry. No hard feelings? [I only watched episodes she was listed as appearing in.] (updated 5/2/2016)

Younger – Lauren Heller in the 2nd season (on TV Land) – returned, as played by Molly Bernard, showed up in the 2nd episode of the season “The Mao Function”, written by married couple Dottie Dartland Zicklin and Eric Zicklin – but not in the office. She was in the apartment, scantily clad and smooching with “Liza Miller”s (Sutton Foster) lesbian roommate “Maggie”, played by Debi Mazar, who just about always plays a Jewish character, but there’s been no explicit references. “Lauren”: I'd throw on my dress, but your roommate tore it in half like a phone book. “Liz” is afraid she’ll tattle on her lie about her age at work. “Maggie” shrugs: She's so self-focused. She's barely aware of her surroundings. “Lauren” breezily offers “Liz” sex advice to help her much younger boyfriend performance in bed – in a very rapid fire patter, in a very sweet tone: I also date guys. . . Josh is really edgy, you know? And you're, like, the nice girl. I know that opposites attract, but, no offense, he's probably bored. . . Of course he's bored. All of these guys have been watching porn since they guessed their parents' password. It's hard to keep their attention. You've got to work at it. . . Like, be a boss. Like, you got to get aggro with him. . . Do you have a leather hood?. . A penis cage?. . .Fishnets and a finger up the butt? She continued to be both obsessed with lesbian sex and entrepreneurial business the rest of the season. (updated 5/2/2016)

A French Village (Un Village Français) – 2nd and 3rd seasons (shown in France as the 3rd season, this 2nd U.S. season on (Shown in the U.S. on MHz Choice began premiering the end of 2015, continuing episodes through January, and then released on DVD, which is when I’ll get to see what happens to the Jewish women characters from September 28, 1941, 12 episodes; 3rd Season – 1942, 12 episodes (updated 4/13/2016)

Just in time to take over after the death of Mrs. Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory, David Krumholtz’s drag impression of his grandmother in Boca Raton on his web series Weather From is being expanded into Gigi’s Bucket List on IFC. From the press release announcement: ‘Gertrude Rotblum’, aka ‘Gigi’, just lost her beloved husband Harold, but has gained a new lease on life with the help of an unknown bank account discovered in his will. Eight half-hour episodes start shooting this June in Los Angeles. The show will premiere later in 2015 on IFC. With her dead husband’s secret millions, this 76-year-old yenta with a heart of gold and a razor-sharp tongue sets out to experience everything she deprived herself of in her younger years. Gigi (Krumholtz) will live life to its fullest and fastest while ignoring doctor’s orders and turning the stigmas of aging on their head. She will travel to rock festivals and explore new technologies like online dating, with her trusty male nurse sidekick played by Ricky Mabe along for the ride. . . ‘David has done an incredible job of inhabiting this relatable bubbe character. I hope to emulate Gigi’s unfiltered honesty and wreckless ambition when conquering my own bucket list some day,’ said Jennifer Caserta, IFC’s president.” (updated 5/3/2015)

Felicity Smoak in the 4th season of Arrow and 2nd season of The Flash (on CW) The fans were teased lots of romantic images to follow up on the season finale of them riding off into the sunset on vacation together. The season premiere “The Green Arrow”, story by Greg Berlanti & Beth Schwartz, teleplay by Marc Guggenheim & Wendy Mericle, was a charming role-reversal, with “Oliver Queen” (Stephen Amell) being all domestic and relaxed, trying to find the right moment to propose with an engagement ring, and “Felicity” (Emily Bett Rickards) all bored with domesticity and revealing she’s been secretly helping their friends back in their threatened home city, even as they were romantically vacationing in remote places around the globe. (more romantic specifics coming)
In “The Candidate”, written by Marc Guggenheim & Keto Shimizu, she takes on the Board of Directors in her inheritance as CEO of Palmer Technologies. (“Ollie” likes the way she looks in her pink business suit.) But about-to-be-laid-off black woman delivers good/bad news: When we heard you were coming back we thought things were going to get a lot better. Guess we were wrong. At the tired end, she’s rueful to “Ollie”: When we decided to stay . . I thought it meant a new beginning. He’s thoughtful: If you think we made a mistake, we didn’t. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.. . .We said we’re going to do things differently. We just need time to figure out how. When he next comes home from battling what she calls “Madman Du Jour” in her plea for a code name to hide her identity, he’s startled: You look happy. Don’t tell me now you enjoy firing people? She grins: No more firing. . .I figured out another way. And they kiss.
I’m way behind on posting episode by episode – but “Lost Souls”, written by Beth Schwartz [yes, she’s Jewish – she tweeted “Happy Hanukkah to me” when she “finally got” a movie screener] and Emilio Ortega Aldrich, is worth detailing on several levels for the image of a Jewish woman on TV: with “Felicity”s brains, her hard work (her colleagues are snarky: She’s really taking this CEO thing seriously, while “Oliver” defends her: Well, one of us has to have a job that actually makes money.), successfully dealing with her mother, saving her ex-boyfriend like a superhero, getting her current boyfriend to both open up emotionally and accept her as she is – and ending up in a very sexy clinch where he’s the shirtless eye candy and she rolls over him on top: At the opening, “Felicity” is atypically frazzled, working around the clock to save “Ray”. Sure, her mom, who made a point of noting that “Felicity” isn’t a natural blonde, whispers to her to finish her “fight” with “Oliver” to have great make-up sex, but their resolution to her frantic effort to save the kidnapped and shrunk “Ray” is a heartfelt, feminist interchange before the exchange of body fluids: She: I think we should clear the air. I wanted to thank you. For helping save Ray, and for being so understanding in the midst of my mini-- gargantuan freak out. He: Well, I'm sorry that I'm not the best listener. But all of this is just, it-- it's kind of new to me. She, while seductively playing with her hair: And to me. I didn't exactly grow up with the best example of a normal, healthy relationship. He: Line forms behind me. It's kind of amazing that we've made it this far. She: We're going to be fine. He: How can you be so sure? She: Cause we found ourselves in each other.
Until I fully document the romantic and Jewish recognition Midseason Finale/December holiday episode “Dark Waters”, written by Wendy Mericle and Ben Sokolowski, a few images will show the references to what “Mama Smoak” (played by Charlotte Ross) describes: It's for Oliver's campaign holiday party. I wanted to make sure your Jewish heritage was represented. I was alerted by a Tweet from “ARROW writers’ room” that executive producer Beth Schwartz “has dibs on that amazing Hanukkah sweater”. Schwartz also enjoys posting “#LiveTweetWithMom” during each episode, who tweeted: "Hooray for PC holiday party", as “Felicity” insists it not be called a “Christmas party”, with Hanukkah banner, menorah, and holding out her dreidl, that my screen capture doesn’t capture what “Oliver” called That is a whole lot of Hanukkah!, to “Felicity”s rejoinder You better believe that my faith is going to be well represented.: Maybe that’s why in The Flash holiday episode “Running to Stand Still”, written by Andrew Kreisberg, just after the Sweeps Week Cross-Over that included “Felicity”, “The Trickster” (played by a delightfully demonic Mark Hamill) switches from being Santa: We can’t let Christmas have all the fun! Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of C-4! Put that in your pipe and smoke it! -- unleashing a scary storm of spinning dreidels to an increasily sped-up and high-pitched chanting of the children’s song like I’ve never seen on a TV sci fi show before.
While “Mama Smoak”s excitement about “Oliver”s marriage proposal-- I know he loved you, but I didn’t know he loved you that much. -- was old-fashioned, her daughter has a more complex view of the relationship, as shared by co-showrunner Wendy Mericle in an IMDb interview when the season continued: “Felicity’s life may be hanging in the balance, but the hope is that her impact on Oliver is very much alive. "What's intriguing about this storyline is, for as much as he has grown — and I definitely think he has — this season, it's been all about how he and Felicity made a decision to try to do this in a new way and to stay 'in the light,' which was the way we phrased it in the writers' room. But Felicity was the one who was keeping that flame alive for him.”
Until I update my commentary on the season, Emily Bett Rickards quotes reported on social media at the “Emily & Willa Panel” ‪SuperHeroes‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ Convention 2 in Paris, June 11, 2016: “The main reason why she [Felicity] stayed in Star City is Palmer Tech. It’s her home and she doesn’t want to be anywhere else. She also stayed because her bond with Oliver goes beyond any romantic or friendship history. They’ve build a lot of things together.They've grown together. They've built something whether or not it's a romantic partnership or friendship or just a work partnership. That's home. . .Felicity needs to grow by herself before getting back with Oliver. . . Whatever may happen, [she] hopes they keep it true between Oliver and Felicit‪y. . .[She] ‬would tell Felicity not to hide behind her computer and go look for emotional connections." (updated 6/12/2016)

‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ The Knick – Genevieve Everidge in the 2nd season (on Cinemax) In “The Best With the Best to Get the Best”, written by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, now that the Presbyterian “Dr. Bertie Chickering Jr.” (played by Michael Angarano) is exiled from WASP colleagues to be at “Mt. Sinai Jewish Hospital”, he has to get used to meeting Jews – including that intriguing “girl writer” (as his colleague calls her) who he admires from her investigation of a mental institution. (She seems to be modeled on the crusading likes of Nelly Bly and Ida Tarbell.) But she (played by Arielle Goldman) lets him know on their first date that her “finishing school girl” name is a pseudonym -- she’s Jewish: Yeah, from head to toe. But don't worry, it's not catching. She flirtatiously lets him know her real name is “Esther Kohn”: a shirtmaker’s daughter from Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

[More details from this and her other episodes forthcoming.] (12/21/2015)

Manhattan – Abigail Isaacs in the 2nd season (on WGN – not streaming nor On Demand) This season is much more about motivating the Jewish scientists to build a weapon against Hitler -- and in competition against their former physicist colleagues in Germany. In the season premiere “Damnatio Memoriae”, written by Sam Shaw, the opening montage makes the death vs life point in a visual montage. “Charlie Isaacs” (played by Ashley Zukerman) is reading Mein Kampf while his naked lover/fellow physicist “Helen Prins” (played by Dutch actress Katja Herbers) languidly strokes his arm. Meantime, his wife “Abigail Isaacs” (played by Rachel Brosnahan) is undergoing a painful pelvic exam by a cigarette-smoking doctor. Surprise – “Abby” surprises“Helen”s at her front door: He's not here. You want to check under the bed? “Abby”, nervously: I'm not here to see Charlie. . . Is it true that you were going to have a baby and then you didn't? “Helen”: Charlie told you that? “Abby”: Did you take care of it?. . .Trust me, Helen, if I had any friends here to turn to, any friends here at all I need to know how you went about doing it. “Helen” is sarcastic: Why would you want to do a thing like that, Mrs. Ladies' Home Journal? “Abby”: It's private. . . Charlie wasn't the only one who cheated. And he found out. “Helen”: You had an affair? Who's the guy? “Abby”, avoiding the subject that the affair was with the wife of another scientist who she helped incriminate to be removed from “The Hill”: You don't know him. “Helen”: But he got you pregnant. “Abby”: It's Charlie's. . .Yes, I'm sure. “Helen”: I had an abortion two years ago in New Jersey. Doctor's probably practicing medicine in a jail cell.. “Abby”: But if you needed one now, you must have some idea of where you'd go. “Helen”: You know it's a felony. Some of the girls in the dorm have been to a clinic in Santa Fe near the bus stop on Junction. You're supposed to say you have obstructed menses. “Abby”: Did it hurt? “Helen”: Listen, Abby, I don't regret it. But you will. “Abby”: Do you love Charlie? Then you won't tell him. Will she when he’s next seen in her bed and starts asking him about his wife: Do you sleep closer to the door when you sleep with Abby?. .Your marriage is an old habit too, You’ll fall back into it. When was the last tme you saw Abby? But he’s consumed with personnel crises at work, and she switches to how she will be affected physics-wise. The mysterious Federal intelligence agent, who reveals he is “Avram Fisher” (played by Richard Schiff), calls “Charlie” in for a long lecture on the impact of Eastern European history on his family from hundreds of years in the past to the present under the Nazis and will probably be under the Russians: 20 years I've lived in this country, yet still I keep a packed suitcase by the front door. . . The ones who survive are the ones who adapt.. . .Where are my manners? Congratulations. “Charlie”: For surviving or adapting? “Fisher”: For the baby. Mazel tov to you and your wife. So “Charlie” is waiting for his wife to go home – we too wonder where she’s been when he asks and she vaguelyreplies: Out. “Charlie”: Is there something that you need to tell me? She’s referring to how they tattled on her lesbian lover: You know, Charlie, I think we dug up all the skeletons the last time you stopped by. I'm sure the neighbors can give you a transcript. He: Are you pregnant? She’s surprised: She told you. But she’s confused by his explanation: I had to hear it from the Angel of Death. . . You were going to sign the divorce papers and sneak out the back door with Joey? This is a sign. “Abby” is dismissive: I don't believe in signs, Charlie. He: Fine, it's better than a sign. It's a chance. She: It's too late. He:There's a lunatic in Europe making orphans out of a thousand Jewish kids a day. You want two more to grow up without their father? She: You think I don't know about Europe? Honestly? He, in a reference that must be some kind of plot foreshadowing: You remember that first doctor at Mass General? The one who looked like Calvin Coolidge? A medical improbability. That's what he called it. And I told you we could raise Siamese cats for all I care. But you wanted a daughter so badly. She smiles: We both did. He: And you proved the doctors wrong. Right out of the gates, you said it felt like a boy, and you were right about that, too. She: Thought I'd never see you again. I mean, for all I knew, you were dead. And then you came in the door and you said that I poisoned our marriage. He, urgently: Listen. Whatever happened between me and you or me and her - or you and-- It's not us. It's this place. I treated you like every other jerk on this hill treats his wife. I underestimated you. I forgot what I had. But there's a kid in there. He doesn't know his father screwed up. His world doesn't even exist yet. We can do better. I can be better. She smiles: It feels like a girl.
In the next episode “Fatherland”, written by Scott Brown, “Charlie” rebuffs the lover and even comes home for lunch to be with his wife, so now she’s more interested in his work: You said no more secrets. He: It’s not my secret. I took a vow. She wheedles: We’ve broken other vows. . .You said this baby was a new beginning. . .Helen knows. I’m not going back to the way it was, pretending you’re a teacher or a salesman and like I’m Betty Crocker. And he tells her about the atom bomb. Later, he worries to her about his assignment to help find his Nazi counterparts, who were originally friends of Oppenheimer’s. She: They’re trying to get rid of us. . .If the Nazi gadget goes off, will they spare our friends? You must have photos of the German scientists, their homes, addresses, names of their wives and children. Give those to the Army. [More commentary forthcoming – as “Abby” becomes more aggressively ambitious for her husband’s career – like her mother did for her father – and a miscarriage affects her.]
Not only does the series minimize the Jewish presence at Los Alamos, but this season a scarily dominant figure is “Col. Emmett Darrow” (played by William Peterson) as a seriously evangelical Christian, of the kind that “Abby” had never seen before. He manipulates her stresses by pushing her into more religious observance, albeit with a Christian interpretation. She keeps Shabbat, emphasized in this image from the “Behold the Lord High Executioner” episode, written by Lila Byock and Vinnie Wilhelm, though the lit menorah and additional candles around the room are particularly confusing as this episode takes place very soon after FDR’s death in April 1945 and Hanukkah was coming later, in the first week of December. It’s possible that she’s supposed to be just maximizing her use of any handy ritual object to indicate how distraught she was. (Commentary on the rest of the season forthoming.) (updated 12/5/2015)

Man Seeking Woman - Liz and Patti Greenberg plus in the 2nd season (on FXX; N.B. I didn’t know until half-way through this season that the series’ creator is a distant relative) returned from the start, in “Wings”, written by series creator Simon Rich and Sofia Alvarez. In the series exaggerated fantasy style, everyone in the life of “Josh Greenberg” (played by Jay Baruchel) meets to organize a protest that he now has a girlfriend and is neglecting them. His sister “Liz” (played by Britt Lower) makes the first demand: I would like my brother Josh to accompany me to Nana's house so that I have someone to nudge when she says all that racist stuff.! After a few friends, his mother “Patti” (played by Robin Duke) gets hysterical: I've been working as Josh's mom for 28 years, and I want him to honor our original agreement. I want to feed him every four hours and give him a bath before bedtime. I want to wash his tushy and his dinky and his bobos! Amidst a funny horror movie satire, the new girlfriend earnestly breaks up with him for being the kind of person who doesn’t spend time with her friends.
”Feather”, written by Robert Padnick, featured a bespectacled girlfriend “Claire” who seemed like a putsative Jewish woman, as played by Liane Balaban (the actress’s father is Jewish). “Josh”, on his way to meet up with her at a sci fi movie fest tells his best friend why he likes her: Stuff has been going really well between us. We jell. We read the same comics. We like the same video games. I don't want to ruin it by rushing sex into it too soon. When they do have sex, he realizes she’s not orgasming, so he takes her to a sex shop, where she buys a human sex toy (who turns out to be an Aussie hunk. But “Josh” tries to delay using him: Maybe we save the Kyle for, like, a special occasion, like, uh, Hanukkah. Needless to say, this relationship doesn’t last!
In “Scythe”, written by Dan Mirk and Robert Padnick, “Liz” is an unusually sane voice of rationality and reason amidst a fantasy of a bar scene played out like cops investigating a crime scene. Like a reporter next to the yellow tape, she plaintively demands: Why does an attractive woman have to be hit on? It doesn’t make sense. “Josh” as a detective: Someone get her out of here.
”Tinsel”, written by Sofia Alvarez, was a hilarious episode focusing just on sister “Liz”. But oddly, her very funny affair with the married “Santa Claus” (played by Peter Giles) has no reference to her being Jewish, though he came to her apartment initially by mistake: “Santa”: Are you Elizabeth Greenberg from Evanston? “Liz”: Yes, I am. How did you know that? “Santa”: You requested a graphing calculator. You don't often forget a gift like that. Not in a sea of My Little Ponies. Let alone from a Jew? She: I can't believe you remember that. I was just a little girl. He: Well, you're not a little girl any more. More when I get a chance, but the unusual holiday comedy episode attracted interviewers and the opportunity for the actress to talk about “Liz” – but still no Jewish references, at least in the quotes: Bustle: “It’s about stepping outside of her comfort zone ... The pursuit of a fantasy. . .Prior to this experience, she’s never had an affair at this level, certainly not with a married man ... She goes against her better instincts and the advice of her mother and against all of the things that make Liz so calculated and she’s got it all figured out and this time, she does not have it figured out.” TV Insider: “She’s like the flipside of Jay’s character, Josh. He’s not at all concerned about his career path; more concerned about his social life I’d say, and Liz is the opposite. She’s put all her eggs in the lawyer basket. She has very little time to think about socializing or finding love, and I think when it literally falls into her apartment, she decides to play the devil-may-care card for a little bit, which isn’t her M.O.”
The next episode “Card”, teleplay by Robert Padnick, story by Dan Mirk, was an unusually funny satire of the Jewish mother version of the coddling parents of millenials. Disappointed that he’s accepted an office manager promotion, she literally preaches her gospel of Josh to the choir: I believe Josh is destined for greatness!, as seen in the opening of this clip. This is certainly a unique image for a Jewish mother on TV: (updated 3/18/2016)

Broad City – 3rd season (on Comedy Central) Variety named Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer #29 out of The Gotham 60: Influential New Yorkers in Entertainment and Media: “The creators and stars of Broad City are thoroughly enjoying the whirlwind they’ve been caught up in since the Brooklyn-set buddy comedy bowed on Comedy Central last year. The buzz and critical embrace of the show grew significantly in Season Two, which made it that much more real to the pair. Cementing their arrival as creatives to be reckoned with, Jacobson and Glazer are working on a feature for 20th Century Fox with red-hot comedy helmer Paul Feig. “The first season I think we were nervous that this was gonna go away very quickly, and now I think we can really build on it,” says Jacobson. Glazer assures: “Season three is gonna be so good.” In “11 Things We Learned at the New Yorker Festival’s Broad City Panel”, as reported in Vulture by Jenni Miller, 10/3/2015, not counted in the total was that Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer “plumbed the depths of modern Jewish identity: Glazer ID’d as the type of Jewess who gets Bat Mitzvah’d and then becomes a ‘cultural’ Jew (scare quotes and everything), while Jacobson is the kind who celebrates Christmas.”
Their updating Hack Into Broad City webisodes are also accessible via YouTube. In their Halloween webisode, they dressed up as two Jewish women icons – “The Notorious RBG”, i.e. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Judge Judy Blum Sheindlin. Their Jewishness was the joke in sharing a promotion for Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. (updated 12/15/2015)

Transparent – Sarah, Ali, family and friends in the 2nd season (on Amazon Instant Video)

Suits (on USA) has been very problematic in how it presented Jewish attorney “Louis Litt” (played by Rick Hoffman), pretty much all negative, including his relationship with his mother. No matter his success, his parents nagged that his sister “Esther Litt Adelstein ” has children. A preview of this 5th season revealed she is played by a sexed-up Amy Acker, and she’s a businesswoman, who created a company like Martha Stewart’s. Formally introduced in “No Puedo Hacerlo”, written by Genevieve Sparling, she needs a divorce from her cheating husband “Jeffrey”, who was a house-husband. She ends up romantically (well, sexually) involved with the lead attorney character “Harvey Spector” (played by Gabriel Macht), angering her brother, as the episode is otherwise about their intense sibling rivalry, which continues throughout the season, with so explicit Jewish references. [More commentary on “Esther”, both when she’s on the show and what’s said about her when she’s not on.] (updated 8/14/2015)

The Strain – 2nd season - In the 1st episode of the season “BK, NY”, teleplay by Carlton Cuse and Chuck Hogan, the enemies of vampire hunter “Abraham Setrakian”(played by David Bradley) sneeringly refer to him as “The Jew”, so I’ll presume his “bubbeh” (played by Kathleen Chalfant) is Jewish, seen in a prologue flashback to in his Romanian village 1932, when she repeats the scary story of the giant nobleman Jusef Sardu: Finish your soup, Abraham, and I'll finish my tale. . . Evil lurks in the world, Abraham, in many forms. Some familiar, some not. You must stop it. We all must. In the next episode, “By Any Means”, teleplay by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, his immortal enemy from his grandmother’s tale “Eldritch Palmer” (played by Jonathan Hyde) mocks him about his wife: Your god also turned down Miriam's cry for help. She wasn't worthy either, I suppose. By the way, I have her heart. I keep it on a shelf over my desk. I'll place yours beside it once the Master has dispatched you. (updated 7/25/2015)

On Devious Maids (on Lifetime), there’s only hints that the one of the more obnoxious rich women “Gail Fleming” (played by Julie Claire) is Jewish when she drops a “Mazel tov” in the episode “The Turning Piont”, written by Charise Castro Smith, and has a frank explanation of relationships based on financial rewards. (Details forthcoming.) (8/9/2015)

The Goldbergs – Beverly and Erica plus in the 3rd season (on ABC) (I detest this sit com so much that I couldn’t bring myself to finish watching the 2nd season, so I doubt I’ll bring myself to watch the didn’t-deserve-to-be-renewed 3rd season. I’ll probably have to end up buying the complete series on DVD to do a complete review with episode-by-episode documentation of its clichés.) (9/12/2015)

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – Rebecca Bunch, her mother, and others in their 1st season (on the CW) Declared by all the critics (and the Golden Globes) as one of the new series hits of the season, Rachel Bloom produced, wrote, and stars in this funny musical, so it’s a good thing I won’t be too constrained that she’s the daughter-in-law of the executive director of my synagogue. The Harvard and Yale educated New York real estate lawyer doesn’t explicitly declare she is Jewish until halfway through the first episode “Josh Just Happens To Live Here!”, when her new boss in California makes an oddly old-fashioned negative comment about Jewish lawyers. In one of the lengthiest profiles on her, Susan Dominus in The New York Times Magazine, posted 1/19/2016, noted in her detailed biography: “A high-strung only child, she was raised by what she describes as ‘neurotic Jewish parents’”. So it’s interesting that she compares her to two particular women TV auteurs, Lena Dunham of Girls and Ilana Glazer of Broad City -- without mentioning that they, too, are Jewish.
While co-creator Rachel Bloom as the star is usually the show’s public face, Emmy-nominated co-creator Aline Brosh Mckenna participated in the Hollywood Reporter’s “Comedy Showrunner Roundtable”, 6/9/2016, very up-front about being Jewish (more so than my cousin David Mandel of Veep): “It's an interesting thing because you want your differences to be acknowledged. It's very important to me that I'm a woman, that my parents are immigrants, that I'm Jewish, that my mother was a Holocaust survivor. But I don't want to be defined by them, and that's the road you walk. . . You want to be able to make that contribution because you have a unique point of view, but on the other hand, you want to feel like it's not important when I say it's not important. . . I remember the first time that my brother described me as a know-it-all, and I was so shocked and appalled. It took me so many years to figure out that that was right.” In the version shown on Sundance Channel, she added: “Last week at my son's bar mitzvah the rabbi from the bima said ‘That's the thing about Aline - she'll tell it like it is.’ Then yesterday on a panel I was introduced "Aline is going to tell you what to do, what to wear, where to sit.’ I was like so it turns out my brother at age 7 had it right.” Television Editor Lacey Rose asked: “Are there characters on TV now or historically that you identified with?” She quickly responded: “Rhoda Morganstern was a big deal for me. Just that she existed and that they had a sassy Jewish broad on TV made a huge impression on me. Definitely!” [of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda]
The naggingly ambitious mother’s voice on her answering machine is Tovah Feldshuh, though she wasn’t revealed for several episodes. The negative comments this mother has generated in reviews and online comments make an interesting contrast to how people thought the similar Mrs. Wolowitz on Big Bang Theory was funny for 8 seasons. My detailed commentary forthcoming, but Feldshuh’s guest starring on the mid-season finale, winter holiday episode, “My Mom, Greg’s Mom and Josh’s Sweet Dance Moves!”, written by Rachel Specter and Audrey Wauchope, epitomizes how she’s portrayed, when she arrives from New York in the musical number, written by Rachel Bloom, Adam Schlesinger & Jack Dolgen: “Where’s The Bathroom?”. “Rachel” also lets drop, I think for the first time, that her father wasn’t Jewish.
The episode “Josh and I Go To Los Angeles!”, written by Aline Brush McKenna, caused quite a flurry in the Jewish media for the redefinition of a stereotype into a strong woman as she competed with her long-time nemesis “Audra Levine” (played by Rachel Grate as an adult, and by Ava Acres as a girl), in court, and in a “JAP Battle” rap in law offices, written by Zach Sherwin, Adam Schlesinger & Rachel Bloom, with a lot of Jewish references:
. “Rachel Bloom Tells the Stories Behind 8 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Songs” to Devon Ivie in Vulture, 4/15/2016: “This was definitely a collaborative writers room song. . .We’re big fans of Hamilton and the idea of Rebecca having a rap battle was really funny to all of us. Originally it was going to be more legalese and a really legal-centric rap battle with her nemesis, but it evolved to a more general life battle. . .Aline said, ‘Oh, it’s a JAP-off!’ and that stuck. I came up with a couple of the ideas, like the bridge being who’s more cool with black people. Like ‘I Give Good Parent,’ I sent a few ideas to Zach and he knocked it out of the park, as always.” (updated 4/27/2016)

Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce – Abigail McCarthy in the 2nd Season (on Bravo) The 2nd season opened with no explicit Jewish references, but “Rule No 58: Avoid the Douchemobile”, written by producer Marti Noxon, included an interchange fraught with class and cultural differences. “Abby McCarthy” (still played by Lisa Goldstein in ridiculous meant-to-be-sexy outfits), is pitching a new writing deal to the “SheShe” website: I can be the new face - of divorce if I nail it.. . . I think I'm here because I have been trying to take a really positive approach to a really hard topic. You know, lean into the idea that divorce can be fun…Yes, it is divorce. It is awful, and all the media around it is so glum, it feels like it needs a warning label on it like, "May cause anxiety or anal leakage”. . .What I am saying is that whatever our circumstances, we choose our attitude, and we can help make that attitude more positive. How about a weekly column on post-divorce style? "A new look for a new you?" And then, of course, I'll be writing every week about getting out there again, and the crazy, sexy dating stories and all the things that sort of go along with that. The male editor (played by David Lewis) pronounces: You’re “The Sexy Face of Divorce”! But “Barbara” (played by Retta), her African-American managing editor, later heatedly explains why she walked out of her presentation, that the rest of the staff approved – and touched a chord with a lot of viewers: Excuse me, if I insulted you in any way. Listen, Abby McCarthy, if you're what the boss wants, I will make my peace with that. I'm sure the rest of the team is thrilled about your shiny, new life and your happy, life-affirming divorce. I'm sure they're thrilled about your Pilates and your facials and your new look. Here's what my post-divorce life looks like: shit. Four years ago, my husband left me for my sister. . .He doesn't give me a dime. He doesn't see his kids because he's too busy banging my younger sister. I have a special needs kid. My mother has Alzheimer's, so I have no help. You know the last time I had a night out? Never. You want the section to be all positivity? You want to be the new face of divorce? Knock yourself out. But this is what the real face of divorce looks like. It's stressed out, it's old before its damn time, and it's scared to death.
The next episode continued to have no Jewish references, in “Rule No 77: Don't Blow the Bubble”, written by Carol Barbee, but continued the racial/class conflict with her managing editor. “Abby” is ineffectual in trying to cross the barrier with “Barbara”, but makes things worse: Hold on, are we talking about your housekeeper? “Abby”: No, Brittany's. “Barbara”: The housekeeper's name is Brittany? “Abby”: No, sorry, the Brittany is my friend. Marta is her housekeeper. Marta got married in Guatemala, but she broke up in the U.S., and she's been trying to get a divorce, but she needs her ex to sign the papers, and she has no idea where he is. “Barbara”: Okay, Abby, what we want from you is your unique angle. . . Lifestyle, aspirational, sexy. “Abby”: I just want to be more sensitive to our readers, many of whom are going through very difficult divorces. “Barbara”: Their Guatemalan husbands are missing? “Abby”: Some of them, and I just thought it would be good if we could mix in some earthy, grounded stories with the fun. “Barbara”: But you're “the sexy face of divorce”, okay? You're not here to write about the sad, upsetting side. . .So we want to see you out there at gallery openings and fashion shows, artisanal food fairs. . .Call and get a list of escorts. No, not escort-escorts. “Abby”: I actually know one of those. “Barbara”: I'll bet you do, but we're actually looking for someone who's gonna look good in the photo. Ooh, get some buzzworthy men, or women, hey, whatever, right? Okay, so 1,000 words twice a week plus some glam photos of Abby's adventures. Ladies, let's sell some divorce! Later, “Abby” tries again to win over “Barbara”, this time with flattery: Idea. I think you should go on the dates instead of me. I can tag along with a photographer and write all the pieces, but then you get to be glam. “Barbara” not only shuts her down again, but plays the role reversal card: First of all, I am glam. Secondly, you're “the sexy face”. I'm the brains. . . I'm good at what I do. I will set this thing up, and then we'll see if you're any good at what you do. “Barbara” calls her back to the office for an update: There's a fashion show downtown at the new Broad Saturday night. Several top designers are premiering new pieces. You'll be wearing one of them. “Abby”: These are for me? “Barbara”: Take them.Try them on. More are coming. The stylist will decide. “Abby”: I have a stylist? “Barbara”: We want “Sexy Face” to look as good as possible. “Abby”: Well, who are the designers so I can look them up? “Barbara”: Why? You don't need to know! “Abby”: Well, how am I going to cover the fashion shows if I don't know who the designers are? “Barbara”: Calm down, Katie Couric. You won't be reporting. You'll sit in the front row with your date, who is TBD. We'll take pretty pictures. You will write about being you, and now I have a meeting. In front of a hotel, “Abby” is secretly meeting up with her ex “Jake”, but when she’s kissing him, she panics when someone takes a photo, convinced she’s been recognized. After she runs away in a panic, he realizes a “reality housewife” (probably one starring on some cross-promoting Bravo show) was the focus. He’s annoyed, so she explains: It's a little embarrassing, because of my job. I can't have somebody Instagram a picture of me at a hotel with my ex-husband. He: We haven't actually filed the papers. She: Please keep your voice down. . . I'm not hiding either. We've talked about this. I literally just scraped my career out of the toilet, Jake. But he continues in a sarcastic vein: Fine, so how long do we have to [hide] this? Because if we are gonna work, you have to ditch the doyenne of divorce thing. She counters: It's not that simple. Come on, would you change your career? Would you quit your movie if I asked you to? He, who is keeping a big secret from her, actually: It's not the same thing. I don't have to lie to do my movie. She: I'm not lying! . . .I'm trying to figure things out. I'm trying to figure out us, me, my voice. He presses: I don't want you to go on stupid dates. I want to come home. She: I'm just not ready to live together again. . . I just feel like I've started something, and I need to see it through. I've got the book. I've got SheShe. . . I mean, we might be together for the rest of our lives, and I might not be the face of divorce after all, but I really do need something different. He continues to not tell her that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant, and she goes off to a ridiculous, nearly nude fashion show with a hired dude, while “Barbara” supervises a photographer. The Bravo “add-ons” gave different impressions. The “Lookbook” fashionista picked the most conservative dress, worn to work by the lawyer partner, as the best outfit, while the after-show celebrated the 3rd night of Hanukkah.
Rule No 8 - Timing is Everything”, written by Marti Noxon and Lisa Edelstein, continued to have no Jewishishness but there’s similar conflicts. Her online-savvy daughter is impressed: Hey, how do you know Dr. Harris? . . No, this guy's on TV. He's, like, an Oprah doctor. Look, he's responding to your tweets.. .It is [funny], and here's what you should say back. “Barbara” is impressed too: That was an annoyingly clever little Twitter chat you had with Dr. Harris this morning. . . but he wants to go out with you. . . he's got 275,000 followers, and they're already calling you two #Habby. It spiked this A. M. with 59% positive emotional content, which is crazy high, and then it dropped 30%. . . Because you didn't respond. . .We have our algorithms. You get that many mentions and you're not even a couple? You two need to go out.. “Abby”: Look, I was fine with all the photo-op dates, but this is feeling silly. I can come up with my own dates. “Barbara”: Hey, “Face”. This doctor guy is a very social media savvy semi-celeb, and you're trying to drive traffic to your blog and the new vertical. So if I were you, I'd start figuring out a way how to make that thing happen. Try something new! Door! So on her date with “the sexy CNN doctor” (played by Mark Valley), she tries to explain her image vs. reality: On the internet, I am the black widow. You know I wanted my husband dead? He’s charmingly self-depracating: According to the internet, I'm a womanizer. . .Yeah, well, I was kind of a slut for a while. I mean, after the marriage was over with She has frank ripostes, having just learned about her husband’s ex: But a safe slut. . .Well, no one wants their sperm running around town willy nilly. . .Sorry, nothing. . .It's ex-husband stuff. He: Listen, you don't edit much at all, do you? I hope you don't mind my saying, - but you're stunning. . .It is such a relief for me to meet a woman my age who's not trying to look like she's 25. She: That's a losing battle, isn't it? I mean, it can be hard here. He: People view aging as a preventable disease. . .There's some patients, they say, "What am I doing wrong? I just have lines in my face.” She: You should get credit for being alive and functional. . . Look, I like you, and I know this is a fake date, but I feel like I should explain what the -- He: Fake for you maybe. This is a real date for me. She: You do know that I'm I am writing? He: You're writing, and I'm reading what you're writing. So write whatever you want., and he makes a nervous penis joke. I just really want to get to know you, so give me all you have. They exchange basic facts about the lengths of their marriages and their kids, and she babbles honestly: Well, not quite divorced yet, but paper-worked. Crazy part is paperwork is done, we turned a corner, and we're getting along, like, a lot, and then today, I find out - bang that he knocked up his ex-girlfriend. They joke about it, but then she’s very surprised that she starts crying: My ex and I, we are exploring being together again, so it's just a confusing time. Basically it means I'm living a lie again, and my dates have to be fake, which means involving nice, great people like you, which isn't fair, - and now the whole baby thing. He’s just as surprisingly sympathetic: A not-actually-divorced woman has to make a living somehow. “Barbara” certainly sees it that way: Paparazzi pictures of your date are on the site. . .You both look very rich and well-groomed. We're using them as click bait, so we need you to tease your column. So get tweeting. “Abby” tries to be honest: Seriously, it was a disaster. I blew it. But “Barbara” cynically spins: That's fantastic. . .As a twist. The pictures make it look like a love match. “Abby”: Really? My fail fills you with glee. Admit it. “Barbara”: It does, but it's also good for your story. “Abby”: Fine, I will write about my epic meltdown in 140 character or less. “Barbara”: #Datefail. And thousands of angry women's days just got a little brighter. “Abby”: Aw. So it's like a public service. She finds out the truth from her brother-in-law: I can't do this anymore, Jake. I can't keep letting you "yes" me to death while you sidestep feelings. . .That's what killed us. (When “Jake” protests, I kind of agree with him.) And the doctor has sent her flowers asking for another date when she’s ready. In contrast, her Iranian BFF “Delia” (played by Necar Zadegan) is having many issues with her upcoming nuptials to a rich guy, including her future mother-in-law’s eagerness to relate to her Persian heritage. Her boss at her law firm “Albert” (played by Brian Markinson) offers ethnically fraught advice: I hated my in-laws at first. They were too pushy, too loud, but after my parents died, they saved my bacon. And they're kosher. Keep an open mind. “The LookBook” choice is again the one outfit that’s both mature and glam, and the after show is still marking Hanukkah.
In “Rule No 65: You Can Go Home Again”, written by producer Paul Adelstein, who also plays “Jake” the ex, there’s again no Jewish references, but some redolent phrasing as they spend a weekend together, she mostly in sexy lingerie. He: Soon you have to abdicate your role as the face of the divorce industrial complex, right? She: Not necessarily. I am writing a book. . .My parents read the press release. "I mean, your marriage failed. Do you have to announce it to the world?" Ugh, that's a good alternate title for the book. He: I'm sure your parents are glad that you finally ditched the dead beat husband, right? She: I'm sorry. They never gave you a real chance. And the truth is they have barely mentioned our split at all. He: Oh yeah, it's not about them. She: Why would they? Don't be mean. He: I'm not being mean, I'm being realistic. I mean, you and Max are their props. They want the image of the perfectly happy family until something gets messy then whoosh! They're ghosts! They're gone! She: That is not true. They raised us to be independent. He: Come on, they raised you to raise yourself. I mean, my mom may call three times a day, but she would anything for me. That means she's a parent! They set aside this argument, and the next morning she wakes to find him working a repair: This dryer vent's been busted, and I'm just feeling handy, and I miss being the man around the house. She: You missed attacking various inanimate objects and screaming? He: Maybe let's try the new version of that. Where I'm calm and capable and you're supportive. She: Except it's not fixed. . .I'm gonna YouTube it. Open my laptop. He’s mad: Are you kidding? She: I'm not being overbearing. If you need help and I'm helping. It's just help. He: Well, that was quite a sentence. You're a writer, right? She retorts: And you're a dryer repairman, right? He very reluctantly agrees she should google a solution, but he: You checking emails right now? She: I saw something from Barbara about an assignment and I was ignoring it so that we can have our weekend. He, sarcastic: Is trying to save your marriage getting in the way of your divorce job?. . . Would you please stop micromanaging me? She, intending to check Google images: I haven't even started! He, starting to yell: Really? You're any further up my ass - I could see out of my mouth! And the accusations fly back and forth, and the shouting increases-- She: You can't handle honesty, Jake! He: They were work emails, or they were [Dr.] Harris emails - would you even know the difference anymore?. . .She: Fine, yes. I corresponded with Harris. . .But only because all weekend, you've been picking on me . . .And making me feel like shit. He: First of all, I've not been picking on you, I've been trying to have a sense of fun, which I understand is not exactly in your wheelhouse. . . You know what? If I do anything that's remotely corrected or remotely suggested, maybe you should just try to relax, you go to Defcon One. . . It's my fault. Everything. All the time. . .True. I'm just a monkey. I just fling my poo and make bad decisions and make messes and you're the put upon adult who has to come in and save the day. And poor you, because you’re stuck with your monkey husband, you have to go find solace in other men! Harris replaced Will! Replaced Nate! Who replaced your monkey husband! She: Because you make me feel like shit! . . Come on, Jake. Face it! Who I am, my neatness, my control, my ambition. You don't like me! He: Don't put it back on me! She: You resent that I provide for this family! He: Money time! You have no respect for my career!. . . And you just can't get over the fact that I'm getting a movie made! Your loser monkey husband is getting something done! She: You know what? I have been nothing but supportive, even you have admitted that! He: Yeah, well that was love goggles, because you are not supportive and you remind me on a daily basis how much more functional and reasonable you are than me. Because I am. She: No reasonable, functional adult would have knocked up his 26-year-old actress rebound. He: I pulled out. . .It was an accident. She: Oh, my God! You pulled out?. . .Spoken like a true monkey! Do you have any idea what you've done to our lives? He: Spare me your self-righteous bullshit! She: Monkey, monkey! The next morning, they are teary into weeping: We gave it a good second go, right?. . .Jake I think my heart is breaking. And they hug, big time.
”Rule No. 72: It 's Never To Late to be a Mean Girl”, written by Adam Milch, had a veiled Jewish reference in “Abby”s conflict with her besties. “Phoebe” the blonde model (played by Beau Garrett) very proudly reveals she passed her GED. “Abby” is her version of supportive: I would be happy to write about something other than my dating life, but what do you think, Phoebe? If I can inspire women to graduate high school and get a free open bar, why not? It's a SheShe win-win, right? To Phoebe! A SheShe win-win! But “Abby”s editor nemesis thinks “Phoebe” should write a column about her experience. “Abby” reaction: You didn't have to say yes. “Phoebe”: I don't want to step on your toes with the column or anything. “Abby”: No, honey, no, you're not stepping on my toes, and besides, my toes are tough. They're like little rocks. “Phoebe”: I just wrote that one piece for the school newsletter, and now I'm writing for SheShe? “Abby”: Well, you know, you don't have to write it if you don't feel comfortable. It's completely understandable. “Phoebe”: I thought Barbara seemed pretty sold on the idea. “Abby”: Barbara's not exactly my number one fan. “Phoebe”: So you think she only offered me the column just to piss you off? “Abby”: I mean, of course not that, but I just... you just don't have to feel any pressure, right, to write anything. This is your prom. If I write it, you get to just enjoy it. Back and forth, until “Phoebe” agrees to let “Abby” do the writing – until “Barbara” finds out: I wanted to read your story. “Phoebe”: Oh, we agreed she's the pro. “Barbara”: Yeah, but I like that you're not a pro. You know, you're fresh and smart and unique. “Phoebe”: So you offering me the piece had nothing to do with Abby? Later, “Phoebe” is angry: And then you totally hijacked it. . . you and SheShe, you and your column! . . .That is exactly what this about. I am so sorry your huge ego couldn't handle someone wanting me to talk about my experience for once. “Abby” fires back: You can talk about your experience all you want, Phoebe, but I'm sorry. This is my column, and I have worked very hard for it. “Phoebe”: I worked hard too. I worked my ass off, and I finally accomplished something that I'm proud of. “Abby”: You passed the GED! That doesn't make you a writer! “Abby” complains to their other friends: Phoebe said a lot of awful things to me too.-- but they don’t side with her. “Delia”: Wow. Are you serious right now? This whole thing was supposed to be about Phoebe. Was it ever a question that you were gonna graduate from college, much less high school? I'm pretty sure everybody's been telling you your whole life how smart you are. Phoebe's never had that, and you just shit all over it.
The following episode “Rule No 25: Beware the Second Chance”, written by Ilene Rosenzweig, had an odd twist. The obnoxious, bossy friend “Jo” with no last name (played by Alanna Ubach) who moved from NYC to open a gourmet bakery in L.A., suddenly reveals to “Abby”s ex: You know, when I grew up in the Bronx, we didn't have all these, "Oh, no, I dropped my FroYo" problems. We had real problems like no medical and and government cheese, but my mother, she always pointed out the bright side. So are we supposed to assume that she’s Jewish? Or did that draw on the actress’s Puerto Rican background? (updated 2/1/2016)

Married – Jess in her 2nd season (FX summer sitcom) Though there’s no explicit Jewish reference in the 1st episode, “Thanksgiving”, written by Daisy Gardner, there’s resonances in “Jess” (Jenny Slate) determination to get her son into pre-school, but she’s already frustrated with the application process: Every time we walk into a pre-school, I know what these bitches are thnking. “Successful man, dumb trophy wife.” Her old friend “Russ Bowman” (played by Nat Faxon) teases: You’re a smart trophy wife. The newly sober “A.J.” (played by Brett Gelman): I don’t need booze to enjoy your insecurity. . . My kid went to Hillside. Use my name She’s reluctant due to his various disastrous personal problems last season. At the Hillside interview, her husband “Shep” (played by Paul Reiser) is calm, she’s anxious: I’m the first wife, and I’m the only wife. And I went to Cornell, so you know so I’m not dumb. Did I mention Harrison can already count to tres in Spanish? “Shep” mumbles: It’s even more surprising because our nanny is Polish. She’s even more anxious at home, exasperating her husband: I’m the one whose raised the kid -- why should that matter? I don’t think he needs tutoring. . .Boys don’t talk as much. Turns out “A.J.” is a school donor, and he did put in a good word for them: No matter how bad it is, I‘m always there for my kid. . .I am not a bad parent. “Jess” hugs him: That makes one of us. Shep is a great parent. I don’t even know if I’m cut out for it.
Until I detail her limited episodes, and references to her, this season, I’m fascinated that the series has chosen to puncture the images perpetuated by Woody Allen and adaptations of Philip Roth novels where the older man goes to live happily ever after with the much younger woman. Instead, “Jess” is deeply unhappy, making “Shep” unhappy as well, albeit most viewers will probably just think she’s a bitch because Reiser is typecast as a nice guy. It takes guts to play an unlikeable character on a TV comedy! (More forthcoming) (updated 10/2/2015)

UnReal– Rachel Goldberg and others in the 1st season (biting, dark comic summer satire on Lifetime of its own kind of shows; out on DVD) Inspired by former The Bachelor producer Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s short film Sequin Raze, it’s very funny and caustic targeting of such “reality” TV shows. She’s taken to describing the show as “Breaking Bad for women.” Unlike most others, I waited for at least explicit hints that“Rachel” (played by Shiri Appleby in her best TV role -- a Jewish actress who hasn’t played a Jewish character in a lead role before; I saw no credible evidence that her “Liz Parker” in Roswell years ago was Jewish, but thanks for asking Eric Ruth!). Let alone her smothering psychiatrist mother “Olive” (played by Mimi Kuzyk), were Jewish women.
But I was a bit surprised by this interchange to Kate Aurthur in BuzzFeed, posted 7/20/2015, between Appleby and Shapiro: “SA: [Y]ou said at my audition, ‘But you’re so pretty!”’And I was like, ‘But I don’t feel pretty. SGS: And I was like, ‘OK, as long as you don’t feel pretty, we can work with that.’ And Shiri has actually brought so much to the role that I couldn’t have even imagined. There’s so much vulnerability. I call it the JAPpy girl next door. You’d totally bring her home to meet your mom, she’s great with grandmas. It’s disarming.” To Megan Angelo in Glamour, posted 7/27/2015, Appleby connected to “Rachel” in a way to challenge the usual stereotype of a Jewish professional woman on TV: “I'm an ambitious woman, but I've had some men call me too driven or too ambitious. I've had them tell me to ‘calm down’. When you're trying to find yourself, it does sort of squash you. Now that I'm happily married and my partner [chef and entrepreneur Jon Shook] is successful, I always try to think, ‘How would he handle this? Would a guy feel guilty for asking for this?’ No. A guy doesn't feel like he's out of line for asking for what he wants. It's crazy that we filter ourselves that way. So now the way I go about my business is to be sweet and feminine, but when it comes to negotiating, be a man. I hope to raise my daughter in a way that she can communicate what she feels without having to put herself in a man's head.”
So this description is interesting in avoiding any explicit Jewish reference, but maybe manipulative bitch is a new connotation: From 8/3/2015 - ”When speaking with Vanity Fair’s Julie Miller, Appleby described the real-life reality-show producer she used as an inspiration for her character: ‘I asked her every question I could possibly think of about her job and what it meant to her and you could see that she really got off on it. Even though it was something that made her feel ugly at times and made her feel bad about what she was doing. I think she got a high off the fact that she could make all of these people do what she wanted to do. You could feel that it was almost like a hunger inside of her.’”
The episode “Mother”, written by David Weinstein, is the key set-up for why “Rachel” is devastatingly good at her job – we see that how her mother talks and does to her is what she then applies to the contestants. “Rachel” has reluctantly gone home and is greeted by her mother: One of my students wrote a paper on you’re show. Abssolutely fascinating…It examines the pscholgoical effects of bully tv and viewing women as chattle. “Rachel”: Not my show. Mom: You feel judged. “Rachel”: Don’t shrink me! Save it for you’re patients, OK? Mom: Your roomate Bethany called – you’re three months behind in rent? What do you need? $20,000? “Rachel”: Yeah, I’ve had some legal issues. It was just a misunderstanding. But a loan, just a loan, would be really great that would really help me. It would relieve a lot of pressure, at work, to be a better me. Mom: You know your father and I can help you. But not if you’re are not willing to help yourself. You and I need to resume our sessions. [So this is who she gets her slippery ethics from.] “Rachel”: Well I already have a therapist. And bonus she’s not my mother. She works on the show. Mom chuckles: She’s probably not even a doctor. “Rachel”: I’m doing fine and she’s helping me out. Mom: Really? You don’t look fine. You’re very thin. You’re drinking too much. “Rachel”: I’m doing better. And what are you doing right now? This is unethical! You treating me? It’s not ethical. Mom: Those rules are arbitrary, OK? Are you taking your meds? “Rachel”: Which ones? What am I prescribed for right now? When we started it was for ADHA, then we moved on to bi-polar, then what came next? Was it borderline or narcissitic personality disorder, because I always have a hard time with those two. I’m constatntly getting those confused. Mom: Well it was very hard to pin down. You are a very tricky girl. Ok, considering all you’re recent troubles, I think you should move back home for awhile. Our work would progress much faster if you weren’t under so much stress. “Rachel”, sarcastic: In patient huh? Mom affirms. “Rachel”: Just like you’re doing with Dad? What do you have him on? Because the guy is kind of seeming like a zombie. Mom: Oh that is so not fair. Your father is feeling so much better since he’s on whatever. Rachel, these disorders run in families. What I have learned from treating your father coild really help u now . . .I know you! I see what you’re trying to hide and how exhausted it makes you. It really breaks my heart. There’s no shame in it. DPD is not yr fault. “Rachel”: Dr .Wagner says I don’t present with DPD, or any of the other things you say that I have! She says that there’s nothing wrong with me. Mom:Oh! Really! And I suppose she is more quaifiedl than your own mother! “Rachel”: I am just asking for some money! Mom: And you can have it, but we have to resume our sessions. I am willing to do it over the phone. “Rachel” starts yelling: I am not your subject any more. And I know you don’t approve, but I am damned good at what I do! Mom: And the reason you are so good at what you do. The manipulation, the atunement, that is the disease! “Rachel” starts crying. Mom: Rachel, look at me. Please look at me. Rachel, are you happy a the way you feel? “Rachel” weeps and Mom takes her in her arms: Oh baby, you have to admit you’re sick before you can get better. “Rachel” storms out of the house -- with a check for $20,000. Then she rips it up in little bits: Screw you! Screw you! and throws the pieces out the carwindow. Later, “Rachel” plays a contestant exactly like her mother played her, including taking her into her arms: All that anger you’re directing at yourself? Point it at the bitch who’s ruining your future. And she gets the catfight on camera she wanted, and impresses her cunning boss “Quinn King” (played ferociously by Constance Zimmer, and I think she’s a putative Jew, too, though the actress comes from German heritage): I heard that you went home. “Rachel”: Yeah, my mom thinks I’m seriously ill. “Quinn”: There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re a genius. “Rachel”: I’m never getting out of here. “Quinn”: Why would you want to? You’re home. They share a cigarette and watch the catfight. “Quinn”: That’s good television.
Some would consider this description a putative Jewish reference about mother and daughter in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, 6/15/2015, co-creator Marti Noxon described: “When we were talking about creating a real antihero in Rachel — and Quinn — it was really important we start early-ish in the season to understand that this person was raised in a home that was so highly manipulative and emotionally manipulative. By the time that scene with her mom is over, she’s wrecked, she’s destroyed and she tears the check up because she’s trying so hard not to believe that she’s incapable of functioning in the world. But, that’s where her magic powers come from.” Shapiro expanded in the BuzzFeed interview: “It was really meant to show that Rachel has nowhere else to go. And to give us a lot of empathy for why she is the way she is, and why she does what she does. And that she’s really doing her best, given where she came from. But really, most of all, to show she can’t go home. . .I just feel like a lot of the stuff she’s struggling with is stuff that I’ve struggled with in my life. Again, it’s fiction. My mom’s not a psychiatrist, I have beautiful, loving parents. My life is so, so different.” Lisa Rosen, in The Los Angeles Times, 11/24/2015, had an interpretation that seemed to avoid the Jewish resonance: “Rachel's character suffers from being raised by a psychologist mother who constantly treated her for problems she didn't have. That background gave Appleby an understanding of Rachel's own manipulative nature, as well as her search for a mother figure in Quinn.”
In “Truth”, written by series co-creator Sarah Gertrude Shapiro, “Rachel” is praising the bachelor to a contestant’s Mississippi grandmother: Sure, Alex is a nice boy. A real mensch, like my mother would say. But what’s made much more online commentary than her Jewish reference was the opening scene of “Rachel” starting her morning in the van by masturbating. But for all the feminist crowing by Emma Gray, Senior Women’s Editor in Huffington Post, 7/6/2015, and re-touted by Alice Lawton in Bust, both presume she’s watching porn on her mobile phone. No, she’s not. She’s getting off on watching an old video of her with her ex-boyfriend, for whom she is still holding a torch, as their affectionate voices can be clearly heard.
”Fly”, written by Alex Metcalf, had the very gentile British bachelor “Adam Cromwell” (payed by Freddie Stroma) flirt with “Rachel” by oddly using a comparison phrase more common to Jews. Playing down how he protected a contestant by (ineffectually) punching her violent ex-husband (“Rachel”s ex “Jeremy”, played by Josh Kelly, was more effective, whose current fiancée had just objected to the kind of rough sex he had just refrained from following through in a rekindling with “Rachel”): It’s not like I saved a family from being pillaged by Russian Cossacks. “Rachel”, admiringly: Same difference.
She’s the ironically titular “Savior”, as written by co-executive producer Jordan Hawley. She’s a wreck in the opening, after a contestant had leapt to her death from the roof, even as “Rachel” was trying to talk her out of it: She had her hand out! A distraught contestant “Maya” (played by Natasha Wilson) is just one of the people making her consumed with guilt: Nobody cares about anyone. . . Mary killed herself because of this place. I mean, what is wrong with you people? How bad does it have to get for you to wake up?. . You can tell your bosses I’m quitting the show. But her boss “Quinn” rejects her effort to be the conscience of the show: We are so supremely screwed right now. I need you to stay strong. . . So before you go all Jiminy Cricket on everyone, think about that. But “Rachel” is still reeling -- This is on me. -- when production assistant “Shia” (played by Aline Elasmar) comes in and confesses to messing with the contestant’s anti-depression meds: I only did what you would have done. . . to make her come alive on camera! “Rachel”: I didn’t kill her - you did. She vents to her ex comes to her trailer: You know the network's sort of pointing their finger at us for bringing Kirk here and kind of accusing me of killing Mary, but other than that, I'm doing really great. He: Rach, you really shouldn't be alone right now. They can't pin this on you. She: I mean, they're not totally wrong . . .I just let Mary down, you know. I was supposed to be protecting those girls. He: When it comes to you, I see more than you think. I see a lot. As they fall into what “Rachel” in the morning disparages as “grief sex”, she: Those lawyers are out for me. He: Yeah, well, they're like that with everybody. That's what they do. They turn up the heat, sweat the truth out of you. She: No, they are looking for a scapegoat. I'm in the cross hairs, and you know it. He: You got to tell them everything. You did, right? The morning after she’s back to worrying: I barely have a job right now. He’s supportive, that she’ll find a way to blame the woman’s violent ex-husband from getting paid off: You’re like a force of nature. If anyone can deliver Kirk’s head on a stick it’s you. “Brad” the network rep (played by Martin Cummins) is surprised to see her: Isn't she the one who lost it last season and crashed the Ferrari? . . And you rehired her after that? “Quinn” re-hired her after what she did in the past. “Quinn”: She has been through a lot today. . . She had some issues, but she's a great producer. . .She's worth five crashed Ferraris. The suit warns: You're in charge. She reports to you. “Rachel” convinces “Quinn”: If we're not gonna tell the truth . . .let's at least do one good thing here. Against network instructions to stop production, she conducts tearful interviews with the contestants about what the dead woman had told them about her abusive husband, all good stuff to leak to sites such as Jezebel, Media Girl, Bitch Magazine: Once it goes viral, there's no way that the network can pay him off.. But angry “Adam” won’t play along in this blame game: Not you? Not the show? That’s what you want me to say? Awkwardly, her ex is manning the camera when “Adam” storms off: Screw him. He’s a prick. “Rachel” goes after him, but “Adam” persists: How is this not your fault? She: It’s not my fault. I can’t tell you everything. “Adam” really stings: You’re a monster! “Quinn” suggests she find a “Plan B”, but “Rachel” isn’t optimistic: You kinda took away all my Plan B’s. Remember? Indefinitely forced servitude. But “Rachel” goes to the late-contestant’s room and sees a teddy bear. Next we see her with the woman’s sister, who is distraught over custody issues, and manipulates her into reading a suicide note on camera, with its blame on the ex. “Rachel” hugs her and the sister sweetly whispers into her ear: I almost believed it was real. . .Whatever it takes to keep [her niece] away from that monster. “Shia” still thinks she should “feel guilty” – and “Quinn” pretty much banishes her and hugs “Rachel”: If you ever need to to talk. . .You know we're never talking about this again. “Jerome”, her ex, gives “Rachel” a sympathetic look – until his current fiancée takes his arm. “Rachel” is so miserable, let alone homeless, that she crawls into bed with the contrite “Adam”: I’m sorry. You’re not a monster. “Rachel”: Yeah I am. He spoons with her and holds her in his arms as they fall asleep. (Commentary on the rest of the season forthcoming) (updated 1/1/2016)

Murder In The First - Raffaella “Raffi” Veracruz (on TNT summers) As played by Emmanuelle Chriqui, this new cop in the 2nd summer season was a bit confusing from the outset. Very beautiful and very tough drug detective, she wasn’t too credible. Until in the 4th episode, “My Suger Walls” written by Jonathan Abrahams, it’s revealed that she is – of course!—ex-Israeli Army! Wouldn’t want a season to go by without a stereotyped image like a Mossad agent in some series. (Did I miss any earlier references?) A large African-American dealer sizes up the petite woman, first confused if she’s Latino (me too!), then decides: So you was in the military.And your little medical card, that's legit, huh? PTSD? You're a little PTSD case, huh? You a soldier, and I respect that. Her suspicious cop lover “Terry English” (played by Taye Diggs) trailed her -- to a synagogue, where he is surprised to see her rise for the mourners’ kaddish: Who was the person that you were standing up for at the synagogue? She: That’s personal. He: So is sex. She, ruefully: We've been doing that a lot, so, look, I lost somebody, too, all right? I know how it feels. He was I.D.F. Special Forces, and he was killed by a Hamas sniper five years ago. So, every year, on this day, I come and I say a kaddish for him, which is something I promised his mother I'd do. . . Look, I forgot, okay? This year, I almost forgot.
The Moroccan Jewish actress explained to Kyle Downing the character’s background in M Star News, posted 6/7/2015: “She's tough; she's had a tough life. She's somebody who fought in the Israeli army and was very, very good at her job. She's half Israeli, she's half Mexican, she's super street and she's got a lot of demons that she's never dealt with. And it's dark; it's gritty.” [Sorry, I had to suppress a chuckle.] But that did explain an interchange I didn’t understand in the 2nd episode “Schizofrenzy”, written by Robert Munic. The cops are searching a tunnel and she shows she’s familiar with how they’re engineered. “Terry” asks her admiringly: So, where did you learn tunnels? She, tersely: Gaza. He, thinking she’s Arab: I didn't know they had tunnels in Palestine. She, quickly: Israel He, realizing now she’s Jewish, which I didn’t get then: Mazel tov. The episode ends with their first quickie.
In “Oh Mexico”, written by Daniele Nathanson, she continues to have a bit confused background. She asks to ride along with the tough, old school “Marty Mulligan” (played by A.J. Buckley). He’s surprised: Things that slow over in Gang Unit, or you just miss my winning personality? She retorts: Yeah, I miss the smell of whiskey and Old Spice in the morning. Reminds me of the guys I dated in high school. He keeps trying to one-up her, like first “dead body” – and she wins: My first DB? Four-year-old girl, Palestinian, shelling tore her into five pieces. Still had a teddy bear clutched in one hand. (Commentary on the rest of the season forthcoming) (updated 7/13/2015)

The Last Ship – Lt. Ravit Bivas in the 2nd Season (on TNT, out on DVD) The summer’s 2nd Israeli woman soldier character came on board the surviving U.S. Navy destroyer after a global pandemic (based on the novel by William Brinkley) in the 4th episode, “Solace”, written by Steven Kane – and no wonder her accent was right – she’s played by the Israeli actress Inbar Lavi, who I liked a lot in MTV’s Underemployed: I want to introduce you to two of our new team members. Both of these sailors were part of the Navy's special warfare joint operation training program in Norfolk when shit hit the rotors about three months ago. They volunteered to join us on our mission south. . .And this is Lieutenant Ravit Bivas. Israeli Defense Forces - Expert diver and intelligence operator. Another comments about adding her and a hunky Aussie: We are a regular coalition of the living . The male crew all eyes the new pretty, petite crew mate. One starts flirting: You know, when I was deployed in the Gulf, I spent some time outside Tel Aviv, a town called. . She shuts him down by correcting his pronounciation of the name. Later in the gym, the hunky Aussie (“Wolf Taplor” played by Ben Foster) helps her with boxing practice with a tease: Come on! You punch like a girl. Then compliments how she kicks the punching bag. Other sailors gossip that the two are just friends: He says she's like a sister to him. . .Just don't break her heart. You don't wanna tangle with the big brother. She’s immediately put on the “Tiger Team” to board another ship, then are warned: Hostiles may still be on board. Just when the team is looking for her, she does something really smart (for this kind of show). She dons a labcoat, walks into the lab under siege, and pretends to be a doctor to the pirates: What are you doing here? Looking for the cure? I'll give it to you. -- then pulls out a gun and kills the 3 of them in short order close up – bang! bang! bang! Later, she’s even a bomb defusion expert, though she keeps mumbling to herself in Hebrew as she tries to figure out this very complicated one. Just as she realizes it’s more complicated than she can handle, the admiring “Tex” (played by Aussie actor John Pyper-Ferguson as a long-haired Texan hero, unlike his more recent psycho and villainous roles) grabs the entire bomb unit she got disconnected and gets it just about overboard before the pirate sets it off. She earns a compliment: You did real good out there today. I'm glad to have you on the team. She grins: I like you guys. You're crazy.
While I catch up with her various demonstrations of military prowess and smarts, “Uneasy Lies the Head” episode, written by Nic Van Zeebroeck, had one of her rare Israeli references. After threatening one fellow soldier: You call me "sweetheart" again, I'll make you eat that pathetic pair of 9s you're holding. . . So what do you think? Do I have the goods?, they exchange “worst” war stories: I was stationed in the West Bank for three years, another two in Gaza. Thought I'd seen everything. Then this pandemic broke out. And I thought, you know, maybe now we have this common enemy. We even have this cure that we want to give to people. Maybe, just maybe, we'll stop killing each other. But nothing's changed. It's all the same. (Commentary on the rest of the season forthcoming) (updated 5/6/2016)

Odd Mom Out– Jill Weber in the 1st season (half-hour sitcom on Bravo) A couple of interviews with show creator Jill Kargman claimed her character “Jill Weber” is also Jewish, as she is, living among the pretentious, obnoxious WASP Top 1% on NYC’s Upper East Side. (I haven’t yet read any of her books, including her 2014 novel Momzillas that inspired the series.) But there were only vague hints in the first 3 episodes (nor in the webisode discussions with the executive producers), except she’s brunette to her “blonde bitches” in-laws. Otherwise she seems just as thin and wealthy, let alone with three kids, as the the Other Moms.
In the 1st episode, “Wheels Up”, written by Kargman, Julie Rottenberg & Elisa Zuritsky, her mother-in-law “Candace” (played by Joanna Cassidy) doesn’t think she’ll join with the so thin you can’t notice she’s pregnant sister-in-law “Brooke” (played by Abby Elliott) in exercising: Jill’s people aren’t exactly known for their athletic prowess. She doesn’t make it explicit even in the 2nd episode “Vons Have More Fun”, written by Rottenberg & Zuritsky, when her in-laws announce why they went to Austria for the weekend to explore our roots. . .We are Austrian aristocracy. . .We’re all changing our name to Von Webber. . .We’re not changing our name – we’re restoring our name. “Jill” politely asks: I’m curious -- during your research, did you happen to stumble on where this Von Webber clan was during the ‘30’s and ‘40’s? Her younger brother-in-law “Lex” (played by Sean Kleier), who just sold his company for $675 million that brings bagels to China: The family tree does get a little fuzzy during that time period, but a branch of the family did resurface in Argentina in the ‘60’s. It’s cool. She later explodes at home: They’re Nazis! It explains everything. We are not changing our name! Nyet! Her husband “Andy” (played by Andy Buckley): I’m pretty sure that’s Russian, not German. After she complains to her best friend: I feel like I’m joining the Aryan Nation, the couple defies his family and decides to not add the “Von”.
There’s a hint that her long-time, wise-cracking (of course) best friend “Vanessa” (played by K.K. Glick), a down-to-earth E.R. doctor (with no last name?), is also Jewish, when she mentions that the new guy she’s dating is an orphan. “Jill” is excited: Marry him!. . .Crack out the ketubah!. . .Lock that orphan down! You wouldn’t have in-laws! In the next episode “Dying to Get In”, written by the star, “Vanessa” announces she’s doing something that would probably be common to a Christian: going to her first wake of a patient. “Jill”: Mazel tov!-- but that’s as common in NYC as her frequently saying “schlepping”.
In “Brooklandia”, written by Julie Rottenberg & Elisa Zuritsky, much as “Jill” appreciated the “frizzy-haired moms” in Brooklyn (oddly, none of whom are explicitly Jewish), she and her daughter celebrated their return to the Upper East Side with a song and dance number through their neighborhood: Hazel, honey, we might be different from some of the uptight people here, but this is our home. Our family is here. And you know what? We might not tell them as often as we should that we love them.
The 6th episode “Midwife Crisis”, written by Julie Rottenberg & Elisa Zuritsky, sealed the deal of her Jewish identity to me, as we finally learned her birth name. She ran into a college boyfriend in the drug store and reminds him: I’m Jill Kaplan. We dated. we backpacked in Greece and Turkey. She’s just dealt with her sister-in-law’s labor, though, and looks a mess while buying adult diapers. Flashback to the birth (Dr. “Vanessa” isn’t checking her phone because she’s having multi-orgasmic sex with a realtor, though not as many orgasms as he thinks)– and “Jill” is declaiming the first Hebrew prayer that comes to mind: Baruch atai adonai. . . The sister-in-law’s first concern is that her new daughter looks “too ethnic”.
In “Sip ‘n’ See”, written by Julie Kraut, features the sister-in-law’s new-found devotion to “Jill”, albeit she apologizes to her for finding “Langley”s brown hair distasteful. The Jewish perception comes through “Vanessa”, who for the first time identifies herself in answering the phone as “Dr. Wrigley”, but that might have been a joke I didn’t get. The mother-in-law ends up in her “York Hospital” E.R.: Mrs. Von Weber -- it’s me, Jill’s friend Vanessa. We met at the wedding. And Mile’s bris. And all of their birthday parties. But the society dame assumes something else about a professional woman who is a brunette: Victoria, what are you doing here dressed as a doctor?. . Valerie – times have changed. Your kind can get married now. “Vanessa”: I’m just wearing this [ring] here lately because drunk dudes facing their own mortality find me irresistible. Later, when the mother-in-law is sober: About that wedding ring. Plenty of eligible concussed men must come through that door. I just hate to see you cut yourself off from true love. And she goes on about her own lover. “Vanessa”: I’m alost 40 and I think I’ve aged out of that true love fantasy. She finally accepts being called “Veronique”. The sister-in-law’s effusive gratitude to “Jill” even extends: I hope you’ll be Langley’s godmother, though of course you believe in the wrong god. She also invites her onto the benefit committee of her charity “N.A.C.H.O. (New Yorkers Against Childhood Obesity)”: Welcome to the head table!
The finale focused on the enduring friendship between the two Jewish women, unusual on TV vs. the Blondes of the Upper East Side, over bagels.
(Commentary on the rest of the season forthcoming)) (updated 8/12/2015)

2014/2015 Season

The increased visibility of Jewish women comediennes on TV, led Jewcy to offer Sukkot decorations of ushpizot all from TV as “Ushpizienne: Class of 5775”: Lena Dunham [as the auteur of Girls], Amy Schumer [Inside Amy Schumer, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer [Broad City], Jenny Slate [Married], Sarah Silverman [guesting everywhere], and Yael Stone [though her character “Lorna Morello” in Orange Is the New Black (on Netflix) is not Jewish]: (10/12/2014)

Inside Amy Schumer – 3rd season (on Comedy Central, out on DVD) While her feminist satires, using TV, movies, and music videos, have been brilliant, her Jewish persona helped her, in her “Fight Like A Girl” episode, pull off a funny sketch “The Museum of Boyfriend Wardrobe Atrocities” that satirized both Holocaust museums and the exaggerated significance of gendered fashion arguments, with audio guide and detailed curatorial descriptions that parody museum captions with donor credits (but hard to read even on freeze-frame so I couldn’t tell if there were other Holocaust references than what I could make out about other disasters -- Pompeii in one and Charlie Sheen in another) – though most recappers didn’t get all the touchstones. The first display is from “Ironic Pseudo-Hipster Josh”: Tragically, this is what he wore to meet her parents. The relationship perished soon after. The next exhibit plays on Anne Frank: Heather dated Mark and his bowling shirt for two years. And despite her protests, he insisted on wearing calf-high tube socks. She tried her best to hide them, stashing them for weeks in their attic. But sadly they were soon discovered and forced back into regular rotation. The audioguide intones a warning that one display of male casual wear What you see before you may not look so bad, until you know that it was worn by Simon, age 55. A middle-aged woman gasps and cries, and her adult daughter comforts her: It’s over., recalling how many of our parents would react more emotionally about the era they lived through. Accompanying a belt in a glass case: You are now in the accessories wing. One survivor recorded the following words: “First he wore a braided belt and I said nothing. Then came that hat and I said nothing. Then he wore that fucking hemp necklace and I was like, peace.”, spoofing Martin Niemöller’s regretful quote about the lack of resistance to the rise of Naziism. When Past walls full of boyfriend with girlfriend photographs: You are now entering the Hall of Sighs. You will hear actual recordings of real girlfriends the moment they first bore witness to the horror of their boyfriend’s mistakes. . . There’s even a denier, as a man sneers: I don’t think this many guys wore this stuff. These numbers are exaggerated. A pile of shoes like at Auschwitz elicits sobs from a woman: There are 5,200 pairs of Crocs in front of you, each one represents a relationship that was real and tangible until poor judgment tore it apart. A little girl asks her mother: Did this really happen? Mom: It did Gabby. It did. Close-up on the girl, as her image fades to black-and-white – except for her red coat, like the girl in Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, with similarly somber music.
In all the ecstatic spraise for her and her series this season, from the likes of such late-appreciating critics as in Variety, The New Yorker, Tilda Swinton, three Emmy nominations including as writer, director and actress, and the Television Critics Association Awards for Individual Achievement in Comedy and Outstanding Achievement in Comedy, there’s usually some off-hand acknowledgement of Sarah Silverman as a stylistic foremother, but none mention Joan Rivers as as influence, let alone a Jewish model, despite her eulogy tribute at the 2014 Glamour Woman of the Year Awards. She won for “Best Variety Sketch Series”
Schumer was the only Jewish woman comedian interviewed in Kevin Pollak’s highly edited documentary collection of interviews Misery Loves Comedy (previewed at 2015 Tribeca Film Festival), but, uncharacteristically, isn’t seen referencing anything Jewish about herself or her family. Only Richard Lewis infers a Jewish woman at all, telling a funny story of being embarrassed by his mother coming to his first show, introducing herself to everyone in the audience and heckling his exaggerated descriptions of family members.
Her frank acceptance speech for Trailblazer at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards, with no Jewish references, went viral.
Lindsay Zoladz’s review of her Beacon Theater performance in Vulture, “Amy Schumer’s Cultural Significance Is Manifest in the Trainwreck Comedy Tour” incidentally mentioned a significant Jewish woman in her family: “A man who worked with Schumer’s great-grandmother— a bootlegger who was the recipient of New York’s seventh liquor license after Prohibition — presented her with an old Schumer’s Wine & Liquors jacket. She regaled us with some impromptu asides about her great-grandmother: ‘Tennessee Williams bought the bottle of wine from her … that he died from’." So then I found her 6/25/2013 radio interview: "My great-grandma, who was a bootlegger in old New York, Estelle Schumer, she passed away a couple years ago, but her liquor store is still up on 54th Street. ... She was 94 when she died, or 95, and she would ... just say a word. ... She would call black people 'colored,' and it would just make all the blood rush to my head like, 'No, that's not OK.' But then you think, 'Well, she's so old,' and then, you know, I would mention that to my friends and then ... I realized ... most people I know have older relatives that will just say something that's just so unacceptable. And then I just thought, 'Well, what's the age? What's the cutoff?' Because if one of my parents said something inappropriate I would stop them."
While I’m always surprised that people aren’t aware she’s Jewish, what with all her references to being “half-Jewish”, I hadn’t realized she was raised Jewish until I read this piece by her childhood Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, inThe Jewish Week, 7/21/2015, where he notes “Her mother was on the temple board, and chaired the education committee. . . I officiated at the bar mitzvah ceremony of her older brother, Jason Stein. . . I remember Amy as a sweet, funny kid, who often asked probing and humorous questions in religious school.” In fondly calling her “a religious school cutup”, he declares her a “badkhan. . .the Jewish comedic tradition — social criticism, iconoclasm, anti-authoritarianism”, supported by the Talmud. (updated 11/21/2015)

Once Upon A Time (on ABC), “Darkness at the Edge of Town” episode, written by series creators Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, unnecessarily had its first Jewish implication. “Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin” (played by Robert Carlyle) is collecting villains to get them their happy endings. A la 101 Dalmations, he greets: Cruella de Vil! As played by Victoria Smurfit, she snarls: No one calls me that here. “Gold”: Well, I'm sorry, dearie, but Cruella Feinberg doesn't have quite the same ring. Her husband is being led away in cuffs to a police car, a la Bernie Madoff, while she grabs her fur coat and limousine from the hands of repo men and revs the engine to escape with the other villains in tow. (3/6/2015)

On Elementary (on CBS), “Hemlock” episode, written by Arika Lisanne Mittman, opens with blonde emphatic “Jill Horowitz” (played by Amy Hargreaves) knocking on the updated “Sherlock Holmes”s door: An acquaintance of mine says you're the best P. I. in the city. My husband Steven is an attorney at Dorchester-Reid. . . It's one of the top law firms in the city. Steven has been, um, distant lately. Works odd hours, makes ridiculous excuses. . . They work long hours, but lately it's been worse than usual. . . Steven has pulled plenty of all-nighters, but I haven't seen him in two days. . . All Steven does is work. He left me. I want you to do the P.I. thing. Find where he is, who he's with. Get me some pictures that I can use in court. Turns out he was let go, and his secretary has been fielding her calls, for a fee: Steven and Jill are not the most connected couple. . . She does a lot of charity work, he works long hours. I guess she would have found out eventually, but I'm not surprised he fooled her. . . Steven and Jill live in a co-op building, they belong to the Braebury Club. I guess he just wanted to keep up appearances. Turns out the guy (who “Sherlock” keeps pronouncing as “Horo-vitz”) was doing debt collections – which at first horrified me as the Shylock stereotype, thought there was no Jewish clues other than the name, but it turns out he was something of a Robin Hood trying to help out the accounts instead of dunning them, which is why an investor killed him. “Sherlock” meets with the wife at the end: You're Steven Horowitz's next of kin, so you rightfully inherit ownership of the debt he was collecting in order to maintain the family lifestyle. She’s teary: Steven could have told me he was fired. My God. What happened to us? “Sherlock”: I can tell you that that package, worked properly, will make you very, very wealthy. Steven decided he had other ideas for it. Whether or not you decide to honor those ideas is entirely up to you. Crying, she walks away without the files, and he shreds them. (7/31/2015)

In Forever (on ABC), from the first episode, t