|It's not just his height...it's his insecurity, sensitivity, loyalty...|
|Ben Epstein's ex Rachel:|
Hot, yes. Attractive? Hell no.
I'm making a distinction here between hot and attractive: hot is just sexy, and let's face the fact that almost everyone on TV is 'hot'. 'Attractive', however, means that you want to hang out with them--they are actually enjoyable human beings who do not grate on your nerves nor make you want to scream.
And unfortunately, the vast majority of Jewish women on TV still fall into the 'make me scream' category. Now, I'm not asking for frum characters, characters who marry other Jews, observe Shabbat, etc. I'm just asking for some Jewish women that we can actually like.
There are exceptions--Grace Adler (Will and Grace) was explicitly Jewish, and she did not drive me absolutely crazy. But other than that...
Rachel Green (Friends)? That Daddy's-girl with her nose-job and obsession with marrying a doctor...I never liked her haircut, and I never liked her.
Monica Geller (Friends)? Better than Rachel, but she never identified as a Jew like brother Ross. And let's remember how impressive it was that Chandler (the whitest man ever) could deal with her level of crazy.
Fran Drescher (The Nanny)? Ground-breaking, wonderful...but seriously, you want to hang out with Fran Drescher long-term? And her mother? Without ear plugs?
Rachel Barry (Glee)? I hate her so much. I want to drop her blindfolded in Ramallah.
Annie Edison (Community)? One of the best around, but pretty nominal as a Jewish character and with a very high annoyance rating.
I'm only talking about leading or co-starring characters (excluding, for example, Cuddy on House who I rather like). Female Jewish characters in recurring roles are often a thousand times worse than their leading-lady colleagues (Fran's mother, Janice from Friends). I am also not including Sarah Silverman, who is possibly the best thing since lox and whose work is a category of its own (her characters are always dangerously disturbed, but the woman makes it work).
|The recent hot Jewish men have also moved |
beyond the genre of the sit-com...although Paul
Reiser may still rule.
I don't want women who are flawless--but I want characters who are human. The fact is that the faults of Fran Drescher and Rachel Green are based upon and exacerbate the stereotypes of Jewish women--bossy, high-pitched, Daddy's-girls always searching for a husband, neurotic about their appearance...
Meanwhile Jewish men have been transformed. Their neuroses have become doorways into their sensitivity, and they have been re-figured as ideal husbands and partners (as long as one can keep a distance from their female relatives, of course). They are sexy, strong, creative...but their Jewish relatives and ex-girlfriends (needless to say their wives are never Jewish) are a freaking nightmare.
So can I get a decent Jewish women up in here, please? I'm not asking for her to be perfect. I am asking that she not rely on her father for funds, that her desire to find a partner be no more all-encompassing than TV insists it is for every other 20 or 30-something female and not a produce of financial dependency...Jewish women typically find themselves alone because they are so focused on high-level academic or professional careers that they have little energy in their early twenties to focus on relationships. What about a woman like that?
There is a woman like that on television, on whom I have a deep girl-crush: Mindy Lahiri, the romance-obsessed, terminally disorganized, but ass-kickingly professional gynecologist of FOX's The Mindy Project. Mindy is Indian, but like my imaginary ideal Jewish woman it's not a matter of having her celebrate Diwali or participating in Hindu religious rituals or dating only Indian men--it's simply that her flashbacks have some flavor and her brother's name is Rishi and every once in a while the nature of the expectations that many Indian families have for their children becomes a plot point.
So that's all I'm saying. I'm not looking for a skirt-wearing, challah-baking maven...maybe just someone who gets flustered about telling her mother how much she paid for her shoes, whose brother is a leftie or rightie named Adam/Daniel/Ben, and whose Christmas involves a debate over whether or not to attend the hook-up orgy which is the Matzoh Ball.
Because you know what? Jewish girls are pretty damn hot--and I do mean attractive. The stereotype says bossy? Well, that can also mean fearless in bed, and able to get up at 6.30 the next morning for a meeting. Neurotic? Hell yes, but often painfully aware of their own neuroses and in a constant struggle to mitigate their effects on the partners, friends, and families that they love. Because those high-powered doctors, lawyers, and academics, as well as the brilliantly creative authors, fearless journalists, and innovative businesswomen, are often trying to juggle high-level careers that stimulate and motivate them the deep love of friends and family that makes them show up with food for a grieving friend the night before a major trial or conference, and that inspires them remember to text 'Happy Birthday' to their mother from inside a war zone.
Neurosis are what make us human. And the neuroses of Jewish women can be damn hot, and damn attractive. It's time for TV to wake up to that.