I was impressed by the Netflix miniseries Unorthodox. Specifically with the talented actors, the believable authentic world-building and the spot-on casting (so good). With regards to all of these aspects this is a very good show.
Huge parts of the show are in Yiddish which is a unique experience (especially when you speak a little bit of German). It felt genuine and intimate.
I like that the story works with flashbacks and you are thrown right in the middle. And a lot is left unexplained, specifically Hasidic customs. Some, you intuitively understand (e.g. consistently touching/kissing doorposts) while others left me puzzled (an entire kitchen wrapped in tin-foil?). The show does not over-explain and it keeps the story going, but it does provide enough pointers to dig deeper.
The final audition scene tied a lot of things together — families, friends and worlds — while at the same time it made it clear that some bridges were definitely burned. Wonderfully done.
However, there were some things that could have been better, or that made little sense. Spoilers ahead.
- How long was Esty in Berlin, are we watching days, weeks or even months? Sometimes I thought this was a couple of days. But that didn’t always make sense.
- Why did the grandmother die? Esty was never made aware of this, so what was the purpose of this tragic subplot?
- What was the meaning of Moishe’s successful gambling scene? The fact that he won in a pokergame didn’t add anything new to his character (we already knew he had an ambivalent personality) or the story, but they made it seem significant — including his full monty dive into a Berlin river.
- I understand that a miniseries that is almost shorter than the latest Scorsese does not have time for everything. However, the relationship Esty quickly gets with the coffee-guy felt a bit forced and far-fetched for her character arc. You don’t go from removing your sheitel to sleeping with a guy in two (?) days.
This being said, maybe some of these are setups; loose ends for another season? It could very well be, because there are still some story lines left to explore (specifically Moishe). I would watch it.
Also published on Medium.