Her elderly mother Edith Scob is a serious piece of work, using drama-queen suicide threats to get Nathalie to visit, then treating her like nothing special when she arrives. Her standoffish husband, another philosophy department academic, remains a question beyond the limits of her comprehension. Their grown children are moving on, and the students coming into her classroom are more concerned about day-to-day politics than school.
Adding ego insult to injury, her publisher is pushing her signature textbook, now selling poorly, toward the remainder bin.
And yet. As life and society evolve around her, so does she.
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She allows little flecks of her true self to show, but largely lives behind a carefully erected disguise. Her frosty, modulated reactions are, more than anything else, the point of the movie, not a means to an end. As Nathalie realizes the freedom that comes with moving ahead on a declining slope, her attitude gradually changes. Records and the father of the actor Max Greenfield.
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Fans of the show say it humanizes people that are often portrayed in bleak, derogatory caricatures. And the tension between the Jewish laws that guide their daily lives and the yearnings and whims of the characters makes for emotionally powerful television. But the show is a beautiful, intelligent family saga that happens to be about Haredim. We may not live that way, but we admire it. Her friend Dr. Mary C.
The show so accurately captures the granular mores of daily Haredi life partly because one of its creators, Yehonatan Indursky, grew up in an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem. The men wear fringed ritual garments even while relaxing at home. The women sleep in snoods covering their hair. Married couples sleep in separate beds.
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A blessing is said every time food or drink is consumed, and no one enters a room without kissing a mezuza, a narrow doorjamb fixture that contains the sacred Shema prayer. First-time meetings to check out a possible match take place in public hotel lobbies.
Even the way a man sits, pulling up the flaps of his frock coat away from his backside, feels authentic. Elisheva, for example, stealthily listens to popular music on the Sabbath and justifies doing so because she left the audio player on overnight.
Hasidim and other Haredim, largely the group known as in Yiddish as Yeshivish they may have a similarly austere appearance, but they do not revere a particular Grand Rabbi as Hasidic sects do , generally decline to own television sets. But Haredim do have laptops and cellphones and, though often loath to admit it, some will watch surreptitiously.
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Alexander Rapaport, who runs a Borough Park soup kitchen called Masbia, said that had the show been on Amazon Prime Video instead of Netflix, it might have been watched more widely because many Hasidim run their businesses through Amazon deliveries.