Today, an “unscripted” series premiers on Netflix with the unoriginal name My Unorthodox Life, focused on Julia Haart, a fashion designer who nine years ago broke with the ḥaredi community in which she had grown up, and now—in the breathless words of the New York Times— “heads a global talent empire.” Kylie Ora Lobell comments on the buzz the series has generated:
In the trailer, [Haart] says, “It takes time to deprogram yourself.” Media outlets are reporting that the show “takes a strong stance against fundamentalism” and they’re praising [Haart] for “escaping” the grasp of her ultra-Orthodox community in Monsey, New York.
This is a story we’ve heard over and over again. [Often] these stories involve individuals who have some type of mental illness, were abused by their families, had spouses who didn’t understand them, or the like. Somehow, though, the Orthodox lifestyle and/or community are to blame for all their troubles. And when they bring up shocking stories about their communities, nobody bothers to look into them to see if they are true. . . . The Orthodox perspective is almost never taken into account.
Of course, there are people who have legitimate grievances with their Orthodox community. . . . Still, I can’t help but notice what seems to be a distressing media obsession. . . . I could provide countless examples of how wonderful Orthodox Jews are, but when it comes to Netflix, the media, and the publishing houses, that’s not what sells.
When My Unorthodox Life comes out, I anticipate it’ll get a lot of praise. Reviewers will say the star of it is bold and brave, and they will continue to bash Orthodox Jews.