If you liked the TV series:
Unorthodox . . .
Or if, as a kid, you devoured the books:
Then, have I got a Netflix binge for you!
It’s called Shtisel.
It’s an Israeli family drama series, verging on soap opera, that takes place in an Ultra Orthodox community in Jerusalem.
It’s in Hebrew, with English subtitles.
Doesn’t that make you want to watch it, immediately? OK, maybe not, but stay with me.
My Netflix-crazy gal pals have been recommending it to me since way before the quarantine times, and for some reason I resisted. But after I finished watching Unorthodox, Netflix helpfully recommended Shtisel to me, and I finally bit.
And I’m loving it so much that I’m doling it out, to make the two seasons that are currently available last as long as possible.
The story centers on a father-son odd couple, who share an apartment. The father, Shulem, a yeshiva (religious school) principal, is tender, belligerent, funny, and frequently wrong. He is recently widowed, and therefore always looking for a good meal. The son, Akiva, an artist, is a screw-up, at least according to the long-suffering matchmakers who keep trying to get him married off at the ripe old age of 27. Both father and son experience the occasional magical-realist visitation from their sainted wife/mother. There is a cast of extended family reaching all the way to Antwerp.
It’s great. You will love it. The subtitles do not get in the way. I almost feel like I can speak Hebrew now.
Shtisel is the family’s name.
Shtisel junior is handsome and charismatic, in the mold of the young Ethan Hawke. A teenage niece is played by Shira Haas, who plays the unhappy bride in Unorthodox; she is every bit as arresting here. Every performance is brilliant and compassionate, full of humor and the messy wonderfulness of life.
I do not want it to end.