Friday, March 11, 2016

IMAGES OF JEWS ON TV: OF KINGS AND PROPHETS


While I’ve written before about how Jewish women get theshort end of the stick on TV, it’s not like Jewish men do much better. Woody Allen set the standard, and the nebbish, hyper-intellectual loser with girls cliché still sticks (let’s not talk about how the majority of Jewish male characters on TV are married to or involved with non-Jewish women – that’s a whole other post topic for another time).

That’s why I was intrigued to hear that ABC was launching a weekly series, Of Kings & Prophets, based on the Biblical story of King Saul, that uppity shepherd, David, the prophet Samuel, presumed heir apparent Jonathan, conflicted princess Michal and assorted other supporting players (no word yet if Batsheba will be making an appearance down the line).

It’s going to be pretty hard to drop stereotypical New York Jews with their whiny, nasal drawls, proudly un-athletic physiques and fondnesses for Shiksa goddesses into, as the onscreen Chyron explains, “Gibeah, the capital of Israel.” Especially when the producers promise to go “as far as we can” with the sex and violence. An ABC executive called it “muscular.” The network ran a “may not be appropriate for all audiences” disclaimer prior to airing the pilot.

Were we finally going to get some atypical Jewish male representation on TV? And would it be worth watching?