With anti-Semitism on an astonishing rise and the recent mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, it suddenly seems more important than ever that Jews are depicted sympathetically on television. Luckily, Jewish TV writers have been “coming out” as Jewish the last few years with unapologetic depictions on shows such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Transparent.
On this week’s episode, we explore the skittish history of Jews on television with Allison Perlman, an associate professor of film and media studies at the University of California Irvine. She helps us to walk through the highs and lows of Maisel and Transparent; the surprising relationship between Jewish television executives and Jewish characters; and the best Jewish characters in TV history, from The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s Rhoda to The Nanny’s Fran to Sex and the City’s Harry.
We also talk about two of TV’s quintessential Jewish families, one then, one now, both named The Goldbergs.