Unorthodox (Netflix original series); Inspired By The True Story Of Deborah Feldman.

In this post I am talking about a recent Netflix original show that I have watched. This show is truly an inspirational show, based upon a book which I think everyone should take the time to watch.

Below are details of the show, author and the book- Warning, it may contain spoilers….

And my review and thoughts on the show.

Netflix’s new four-part dramatic series Unorthodox tells the story of young woman’s journey of self-discovery.

Esther “Esty” Shapiro (played by actress Shira Haas) leaves the extremely tight-knit, ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community and her husband in Brooklyn to move to Berlin after issues consummating the relationship and having a baby. There, she meets new friends and has new life experiences outside of her comfort zone.

The show is “inspired by” the best-selling memoir Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman, which was published in 2012. 

In a new interview with The New York Times, the author talked about what it was like to see her life adapted into a Netflix TV show.

“It’s scary to give someone your story for the screen because you can’t control it. On the other hand, I knew I didn’t want a part in controlling it,” she told the publication. “We had a lot of discussions about when can you sacrifice accuracy and when not. We agreed you can sacrifice accuracy as long as it doesn’t impact the narrative.”

The Netflix show is 100% accurate according to the author but she loves the additional scenes and details added into the series such as the one scene where Esty explodes on her husband—that she absolutely loved, but it didn’t really happen in Feldman’s life.

“She finally says everything that has been going on in her head. She finally lets loose: It’s like a volcano… I also felt jealous because I never had a moment like that—I had many small moments where I tried to express myself, and I tried to speak up for myself, but I love how she just lets it all out,” Feldman said. “It really touched me, and it made me wish I had been the same way. It made me admire her. I hope that other people will see that scene and want to be like her, too.”

Wedding scene during the movie.

The show also glosses over the important details of Fieldman’s life in an unorthodox Jewish community however she agrees with Netflix producers that the show should be solely focused on the character Etsy.

“When you’re watching the series, you don’t really meet anyone far beyond Esty’s family. The community is there in the background, but it never confronts you. You have a rabbi, but you don’t see her in school,” she says. “You don’t see anyone in the synagogue. It’s not about explaining the world in which the story takes place. It’s just about the story itself.”

I personally think the story itself and the approach Netflix producers took for this series was perfect. Whilst watching the show I was totally immersed in Etsy’s life and I was trying to see the world through her eyes- even though I did wonder during the show what the rest of the unorthodox Jewish community was like I know if the series focuses on that too much the inspiring and extra-ordinary story of Etsy would be lost amongst all the details.

Of course, after watching the show I was so interested in this unorthodox Jewish community that I have never heard of before that I spend some time researching it to learn more about it, but I would never have done this if the initial story of Etsy didn’t draw me in and kept me captivated throughout the series.

The series certainly did tap into what happened to Feldman in her life as it produced quite the emotional reaction from her whilst watching it and she found the last 2 episode very emotional to watch…

I personally found this series very emotional for me to watch because as a feminist you are seeing a young girl being treated like a second class citizen, being brought up in an environment where every action she takes is being controlled by her family and elders, she is being made to think she isn’t normal for wanting to learn, having a passion in music, for wanting to be herself. She is only valued by how she serves her husband and is denied any type of freedom which is very difficult to watch, so of course when she finally escapes and you realise why, you are rooting for her, you are experiencing her Joy’s, her vulnerabilities and you are hoping she gets the life she deserves as a woman in her own right rather than a second class citizen.

This movie is very much on the feminist agenda and worth a watch. Limiting women in ways mentioned above is not uncommon in a lot of religions but the unorthodox Jewish community is extraordinary and watching this you soon learn why.

I very much enjoyed this series and would definitely recommend you watching it, however it will get emotional and if you are passionate about human rights and feminism (like me) it may make you a bit angry but the ending is all worth it!

Happy watching.

Until next time,

Faye x

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