- 1 Season
Unorthodox is a four-episode mini-series from Netflix that was released in March of 2020. The show is a co-production between Germany and the United States, and it tells the story of a young Jewish woman named Esty, played by Israeli actress Shira Haas. Esty is living in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in New York City, but despite her devout upbringing, she feels like she doesn't belong. She's been married off to a man named Yanky, played by Amit Rahav, who is also part of the community, but their marriage is struggling. Esty is having trouble getting pregnant, and Yanky is struggling with his own doubts and insecurities.
Feeling trapped and suffocated by her life, Esty decides to leave her community and travel to Berlin, where her mother grew up. She's on a mission to find her mother, who abandoned her when she was a child, and start a new life for herself. But leaving her old life behind isn't easy, and Yanky and his cousin Moishe, played by Jeff Wilbusch, are sent by the community to bring her back to New York.
The show is based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman, who also grew up in an ultra-orthodox Jewish community in New York and eventually left. One of the most striking things about Unorthodox is its authenticity. The show's creators worked closely with Feldman to ensure that the portrayal of the ultra-orthodox Jewish community was accurate, and many of the actors were themselves raised in, or have close connections to, that community.
The show is also notable for its use of language. Much of the show's dialogue is in Yiddish, a language that is usually spoken only by ultra-orthodox Jews. This helps to give the show a unique sense of cultural specificity and also underscores how isolated Esty feels from the wider world.
One of the standout performances in the show comes from Shira Haas, who plays Esty. Haas is an Israeli actress who has been working in film and television since she was a child, but Unorthodox is her breakout role. She manages to convey a wide range of emotions, from fear and uncertainty to determination and joy, often without speaking. The show is very much Esty's story, and Haas is more than up to the challenge of carrying the entire series on her shoulders.
Amit Rahav is also impressive as Yanky, Esty's husband. He's a complicated character, torn between his obligations to his community and his love for Esty. Rahav brings a quiet intensity to the role, and he and Haas have a believable chemistry that helps to anchor the show.
Jeff Wilbusch, who plays Moishe, is the show's primary antagonist. He's a member of the community who sees Esty's departure as a threat to the community's stability and will stop at nothing to bring her back. Wilbusch is chilling in the role, and his scenes with Haas are some of the show's most tense and suspenseful.
As Esty navigates life in Berlin, she meets a group of musicians who help her to start to find her own voice. This storyline adds a welcome dose of joy and lightness to the show, and the music is lively and uplifting.
Overall, Unorthodox is a powerful and moving show that is well worth watching. It's a thoughtful exploration of identity, culture, and tradition that resonates far beyond the ultra-orthodox Jewish community. The show is intense and emotional, but it's also ultimately uplifting, as it charts Esty's journey to finding her own voice and choosing her own path in life.
Unorthodox is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (4 episodes). The series first aired on March 26, 2020.