“Look, She Made a Hat” commemorates Midge’s one-year anniversary of taking the stage the night her husband left her for his secretary. Though this episode has the most forward-moving action of the entire season so far, it’s also an episode that stubbornly refuses reflection, an odd choice considering that Midge’s on-stage debut happened on Yom Kippur, the most important day of the entire Jewish year and one centered entirely on introspection. One of the most frustrating aspects of this episode for me was the way that Jewish culture is presented as a part of the scenery, rather than being engaged in a more meaningful way. Sure, we see the Maisels and Weissmans going through the holiday motions—they beat their chests in temple; they invite the rabbi for dinner; their meal when breaking the fast is filled with Ashkenazi Jewish staples: liver, leg of lamb, brisket. Still, the mood of everything felt off to me, from the strange insistence on saying, “Happy New Year” in English, to the obsession with confessing one’s sins, rather than actually apologizing for wrong-doings (a central part of Yom Kippur is actively trying to make amends for your mistakes, not simply wallowing in your own sin). These strange cultural slip ups occurred in the first season as well (a number of Jewish viewers were baffled that the butcher shop that Miriam goes to sells pork chops!) but they irked me more in an episode where there is so much potential to use the holiday as a… [Read full story]
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