As the days get shorter, the air gets cooler and leaves begin to make a more satisfying crunch under our feet, fall television is just warming up. For those of us eager to welcome fall with open sweater-clad arms, pumpkin-spiced anything and an endless stockpile of kreplach soup, here are our top picks of Jewish shows worth cozying up to this season.
“Transparent” (Amazon Prime, Sept. 23)
Jill Soloway’s “Transparent,” for which the Jewish director she won an Emmy, features some of the most eloquent portrayals of Jewish rituals ever created, including the chanting of a bat mitzvah Torah portion, scenes from shiva and Yom Kippur services. The TV show revolves around a Jewish Los Angeles family coping with the discovery that their father, portrayed by Jeffrey Tambor, is transgender. Despite the Pfefferman family’s sometimes too-hard-to-watch neuroses, they shed a light on modern American Judaism, even incorporating a female ‘Rabbi Raquel’ into the cast.
Rachel Bloom poses in the press room with the award Best Actress – TV Series, Comedy or Musical, January 10, 2016 at the 73nd annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. Getty Images.
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW, Oct. 21)
This TV musical comedy is about a successful Jewish New York lawyer, played by Golden Globe-winning actress Rachel Bloom, who follows her summer camp ex-boyfriend to small-town California, despite his being in a relationship with someone else. The show has references to Westchester, Birthright, the Jewish fraternity AEPi, a “JAP Rap Battle” and girls being “egged on like Seder plates” by their mothers. While most television shows only use Judaism as an accessory, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” stands apart from the crowd by making the lead character’s Jewishness one of the series’ defining features.
Cast of The Big Bang Theory poses in the press Room at the People's Choice Awards 2016 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California, on January 6, 2016. Getty Images.
“The Big Bang Theory” (Fox, Sept. 19)
This dorky comedy filled with pop-culture references and geeky humor is already entering its 10th season. The four main male character’s geekiness and overwhelming intelligence is comically contrasted with the girl across the hall’s good looks and stellar social skills. It stars Mayim Bialik, a relative of Israel’s national poet Haim Nachman Bialik and a frequent contributor for Kveller, as Dr. Amy Farrah-Fowler. Another Jewish actor, Simon Helberg, plays Howard Wolowitz, a neurotic Jewish engineer who clashes with his overbearing Jewish mother.
“Gotham” (Fox, Sept. 19)
Did you ever wonder if the young Bruce Wayne keeps kosher or observes Shabbat? We’ve been wondering the same thing ourselves, but we do know that the actor who plays his part in “Gotham” does. David Mazouz, a 15-year-old Sephardic Jew, plays Wayne’s role after the murder of his parents and before he becomes a full-fledged superhero. “Gotham” has a colorful cast of characters, including the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze.