Jewish Matchmaking Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
Icannot do justice to the best scene in Jewish Matchmaking with only the paltry resource of the written word at my disposal, but as it encapsulates the entire series in one perfect moment, it is incumbent on me to try.
Matchmaker Aleeza Ben Shalom is talking to her 30-year-old client Ori about the date she sent him on with a gorgeous, vivacious, intelligent, brown-eyed, brunette Israeli Jewish actor who spoke Hebrew. How did it go? Meh, says Ori. She wasn’t the gorgeous, vivacious, intelligent, blue-eyed, blond Israeli Jewish woman who spoke Hebrew that he’d requested, was she? Imagine, if you will, the spirit of all middle-aged mothers gathering in the soul of one, fixing him with a gimlet eye and producing a single sound that speaks for them all. On paper you might represent it as “Eeeugch”. In reality, it is a noise that makes even the hitherto impregnably confident Ori shrink visibly before her. And while I cannot begin to describe Aleeza’s accompanying facial expression, I can say this – it matches the audio.
And that, really, is the essence of Jewish Matchmaking. Do you remember a few months ago when ITV seemed to be recruiting for an older version of Love Island, involving people who had been round the block a few times and were probably a little less tolerant of BS than the average millennial/Gen-Xer? This is a stepping stone on the way – possibly even a springboard to – that vision. Netflix’s new reality series is, whatever the religious topspin, basically a matter of getting a mum in to sort everyone’s nonsense out. Aleeza has been married for 20 years, had five children and got 200 couples to the altar. Her mantras include “If in doubt, go out” and “Date ’em til you hate ’em” – in other words, stop being so picky, give people a chance, and don’t be blinded/put off by mere looks. Ori.
There are about a dozen participants in the series and before Aleeza opens up her Rolodex of contacts (not literally – but I suspect, actually literally), she sits each one down and takes note of how religiously observant they are, how ready they are to start a family, and so on. Then – I suspect, actually literally – she sets fire to her notes and finds them someone she, with the accumulated wisdom of years, thinks they need and – yeah, whatever – whom they might like, too. Thus Dani (wants someone obsessed with her “who will treat me like the queen I am”, and who has eyebrows as good as hers but not better) gets set up with men who have perfectly good eyebrows and are nothing like the bad-boy narcissists she goes for when left to her own devices. And Harmonie (“44 years young!” who wants to travel the world, loves sex and passionate younger men but who cries with her mother when she talks about babies) gets divorcee Aron, who is ready to settle down, like, yesterday, and have a family. Obviously there is also Ori, who gets The Face and That Noise.
There is enough here to keep things definitely Jewish without excluding the wider audience any mainstream series needs to survive. Some particular concepts, such as shomer negiah (not touching in any way for the first few dates to “keep clarity” about the type of bond you could form with this person) or tikkun olam (“repairing the world” – or trying to do good as you move through life) are explained for a gentile audience, but much of it is simply like speaking to like. We see Cindy talk about Jewish women finding men wearing tefillin attractive, we hear the shared joke that Jerusalem – not Tel Aviv – is where you go if you’re looking to get married and watch as the culture and the traditions of Judaism emerge organically, for the stranger to enjoy absorbing – and for the non-stranger to relax into.
There are enough commonalities – albeit mostly of the depressing sort – with other dating shows from whatever culture (Netflix broadcast Indian Matchmaking three years ago), age or any other demographic group. People are foolish and inconsistent, loving and careless, worth screaming at in one moment and crying over the next. We don’t always want what is best for us. We repeat the patterns imprinted on us before we were old enough to understand them, even long after they start to contradict what our genuine desires are. People who obsess about their eyebrows are always boring. But the main one is that confident, independent women are fishing in a very small pool of men secure and mature enough to date and marry them. Truly, fragile masculinity is the thing that unites us all. Well, that and your mother knowing best if you’ll only just listen to her. Honestly.