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September 23, 2016  RSS feed

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From Woody Allen to Sarah Jessica Parker, new ‘Jewish’ shows to watch this fall

By LIOR ZALTZMAN JTA news service

Pamela Adlon Pamela Adlon The new television season has some very exciting, new Jewish shows. From Woody Allen’s small screen premiere to Sarah Jessica Parker’s long-awaited return to HBO, here are three shows you need to watch this fall.

Better Things (FX, Sept. 8)

Some have already called Pamela Adlon’s Better Things the female version of Louie. It’s an obvious comparison to make: The Jewish actress is considered by many to be the secret star of Louie C.K.’s eponymous show, in which she plays his friend and sometime love interest. Like Louie, Better Things (which Adlon co-created with C.K.) is also semi-autobiographical: Adlon plays a divorced mother of three, and in real life has raised her three daughters as a single mom since 2001.

Elaine May and Woody Allen Elaine May and Woody Allen The first episode is already out and holds to its promise – Better Things is funny, dark and unflinchingly honest. It’s a complex portrait of a modern-day, single Jewish mom who has to do it all: work, housework and parenting. In one scene, Adlon’s daughter asks mom to get her some pot.

“Don’t you want me to have that clean, organic stuff?” the teen asks.

Adlon replies, “Honey, these things are normal, but you should be ashamed of them.”

Divorce (HBO, Oct. 9)

A round of cosmopolitans for everyone! It’s finally happening: Sarah Jessica Parker is returning to HBO. But this time, the Sex and the City star won’t be leading a glamorous quartet of New York women looking to meet Mr. Big – er, we mean, Mr. Right. Rather, Parker’s character, Frances, finds herself on the other side of the coin: An unhappy mom of two, she’s taking ownership of her life by ending her lackluster marriage.

Don’t expect Manolos here, either: “Pretty much everything Frances wears is used, whether it’s from Etsy, vintage or thrift shops along the Northeast corridor,” Parker has said.

Also starring in the show: Thomas Haden Church and Molly Shannon. While the trailer is hardly mind-blowing, we’ll have to wait until October to see if Divorce is destined to be another cult classic.

Crisis in Six Scenes
(Amazon Prime, Sept. 30)

Woody Allen has created and is starring in his first TV-style show, and it’s chock full of Jews. From young Jewish actor John Magaro, of Big Short fame, who has taken on the role of a nebbishy young Woody Allen look-alike, to the funny Rebecca Schull (Wings) to France’s favorite Jewish comedian, Gad Elmaleh. Oh, and there’s someone named Miley Cyrus in it, too.

Crisis in Six Scenes, a six-episode miniseries, follows a suburban Jewish-American family in the 1960s whose lives are “turned upside down” by an unexpected, freewheeling guest (that Cyrus girl). If you ask me, it sounds like a real party in the U.S.A.

Most significant, Crisis in Six Scenes marks the return of one of my favorite Jewish entertainers, Elaine May, following a decadelong hiatus. A creative, hilarious actress, comedian and director, her oeuvre hasn’t gotten the recognition it deserves. So if you’re feeling conflicted about watching anything directed by Allen, how about binge watching some of her old movies, or instead listen to some great Nichols and May?

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