It’s the holiday season! That time of year filled with too much eating, too many family reunions, and having to explain to your boss why you need so much time off. And there’s no better way to spiritually prepare for the High Holy Days than watching TV and movies written, directed and/or produced by Jewish creators.
Before Rosh Hashana watch…
The Good Place (2016-present) – Available on Netflix
The Premise: Eleanor Shellstrop gets accidentally sent to The Good Place after she dies, despite the fact that she’s objectively not a good person. She soon finds out that she accidentally took the place of a different Eleanor Shellstrop and enlists the help of philosophy professor Chidi to become a better person and earn her spot in The Good Place.
Why You Should Watch It: The entire thesis of this show is “all we can do in life is try to be a better person,” which is basically How to Prepare for Rosh Hashana 101. It’s an incredibly funny and surprisingly deep exploration of how to be a good person in an increasingly complicated world. It was created by Mike Schur (the nice Jewish boy who also created Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine Nine) and stars Ted Danson (yeah, that Ted Danson.). It’s also one of the funniest shows on television at the moment, and probably the only one that makes learning philosophy a fun activity.
Before Yom Kippur watch…
Mother! (2017) – Available on Netflix
The Premise: A young woman’s (Jennifer Lawrence) tranquil life with her husband is disrupted by the arrival of another couple.
Why You Should Watch It: Be warned, this movie is polarizing and can be somewhat disturbing at times, but then again, most Darren Aronofsky films are. Its pacing in the last half or so is incredibly destabilising, and its content confronting, but there isn’t much more I can say without spoiling the entire thing. But I will say this: at its core, the film is about humanity’s relationship with God and the world, and the mistakes that we as a species continue to make. I mean, is there a better way to take stock of our lives before The Day of Atonement than watching a movie that makes you stop and think about humanity for just a second, and how we relate to both God and the natural world? I mean, yeah, there probably are loads of better ways, but this is also a pretty good one, in my opinion.
Have other ideas of what the binge-watch before RH and YK?? Let us know in our Facebook group Couch Latkes.
About the author
Shoshana Gottlieb is a writer fresh out of uni and mooching off her brother’s Netflix account. An avid TV and movie fan, she dreams of writing romcoms and Hallmark Chanukah movies. Her favourite TV shows at the moment are The Good Place and Big Little Lies, and her favourite romcom is When Harry Met Sally. You can find her movie reviews at shoshanagottlieb.wordpress.com and her inane musings on twitter @taxiapologist.
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