Since Dark, the German TV show productions of Netflix have unfortunately not really been my cup of tea. This changes with the new mini-series Unorthodox created by Anna Winger and Alexa Karolinski and directed by the wonderful Maria Schrader (also known as an actress from Deutschland 83/86 and the film classic Aimée & Jaguar). I just finished the entire 4 episodes in one evening and really warmly recommend it to everyone, especially since it does a good job at making Berlin look incredible.
The show is based on the autobiographical book by Deborah Feldmans by the same name and tells the story of 19-year-old Esty who grows up in the ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community of Brooklyn – or as another Jewish character from the show describes it: the “lunatic fringe”. During her arranged marriage Esty realizes that she can’t imagine living her life under such strict rules, so she escapes to Berlin where she gets drawn into the scene of young aspiring musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic. Both timelines, her final year in Brooklyn and her first days in Berlin, are told in parallel which creates an impressive contrast between the strict community and the liberal life in Berlin.
I first found out about the Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn a few years ago when I spotted some men with really impressive hats in the streets of Williamsburg. Back then, my New York friend told me that they are very conservative Jews wearing traditional old-fashioned clothes. But little did I know what an isolated community this is that basically treats women like in the dystopian world of the Handmaid’s Tale.
Unorthodox is a wonderful tale of liberation and empowerment with an excellent cast – and I bet y’all will be swooning over this sexy group of Berlin musician friends.
Unorthodox is streaming now on Netflix.