It may not be the summer of George, but with Covid-19 keeping much of the UK at a standstill, now’s the best time to stream your favourite Jewish shows. Here’s our top picks of cheerful, joke-packed shows currently on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Channel 4’s online streaming service to get you through the lockdown.
The Kominsky Method
The washed-up acting coach Sandy Kominsky (Michael Douglas) and his sardonic agent and best friend Norman Newlander (Alan Arkin) make a delightfully grumpy duo in this heartwarming two-season comedy series about an enduring friendship. The show, created by Chuck Lorre, whose best-known TV credits include Two and A Half Men and The Big Bang Theory, scooped up two Golden Globes awards last year and has been nominated for another string of accolades this year, including for “best TV series – musical or comedy.” All two seasons are on Netflix.
Dive into all seven seasons of this nostalgic comedy series set in 1980s Pennsylvania, narrated by a Jewish family’s youngest child, Adam, who films his relatives on his VHS camcorder. Starring Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and George Segal (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), the show was inspired by its creator Adam F Goldberg’s own childhood. All seasons are on Channel 4’s online video-on-demand service.
Jerry Before Seinfeld
If you’ve seen every episode of Seinfeld ever aired – if not, all nine seasons are on Amazon Prime Video – this hour-long Netflix special from 2017 might be for you. Produced by Judd Apatow (Girls), it’s a mishmash of stand up, recollections and archival footage of Jerry Seinfeld’s early life and career and follows the iconic entertainer as he takes a walk down memory lane to Comic Strip Live, the New York City club where it all began. Jerry Before Seinfeld is on Netflix.
Marc Maron: End Times Fun
Marc Maron’s aptly-named comedy special, released last month, was written before the pandemic yet, as he turns his attention to various doomsday scenarios, the comedian (GLOW) hits a nerve with humour and uncanny timeliness. The hour-long show – which Maron told NPR last week he was originally “very dead set” on calling Jeremiad – is a must-watch. It is on Netflix.
Curb your enthusiasm
TV’s favourite misanthrope returned for another season earlier this year – to the delight of lovers of situational comedy and Larry David, who stars alongside Richard Lewis, Susan Essman, Cheryl Hines and Jeff Garlin. Chock-full of jokes and celebrity cameos, the finale is, as the Seinfeld creator would say, preee-tty, preee-tty good. All ten series are on Amazon Prime Video.
An irreverent sitcom about millennial friendship and figuring-it-all-out, Broad City stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer as two Jewish twenty-something best-friends struggling to make ends meet in New York City, but armed with a healthy dose of chutzpah and a zest for life. The Comedy Central series, which originally began on YouTube, returned last year for one last hurrah. The explosive gag-laden finale, and all five seasons, can be purchased on Amazon Prime Video or streamed on Now TV.
Friday Night Dinner
Channel 4’s long-running sitcom, shot on location in Mill Hill and starring Tamsin Greig (Black Books), Paul Ritter (Chernobyl), Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners) and Tom Rosenthal (Plebs), revolves around the Goodmans, a secular Jewish family living in north London, as inspired by the creator Robert Popper’s own upbringing. The family’s “intensity”, he said at the launch of the sixth series earlier this year, is “probably quite a Jewish thing.” It’s on Netflix.
This uplifting comedy series about a part-Jewish family, from co-creators Marta Kauffman and Howard J Morris, revolves around the unlikely friendship that develops between Grace, an uptight waspy cosmetics mogul played by Jane Fonda, and Frankie (Lily Tomlin), an eccentric Jewish painter with a penchant for burning sage, after their husbands, partners at a law-firm and played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, reveal that they are lovers. A must watch for late-night coronavirus-related shpilkes. All six seasons are on Netflix.
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
If you can’t wait for Seinfeld to air on Netflix next year, why not whet your appetite with this feel-good talk show hosted by the comedian and combining three of his biggest obsessions: vintage cars, good coffee and comedy. The Primetime Emmy-nominated series, first released in 2012, includes interviews with Carl Reiner, Seinfeld co-star Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep) and the former Daily Show host Jon Stewart. You can find it on Netflix.
Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah
Actress and comedian Tiffany Haddish (Like A Boss), who discovered her Jewish heritage later in life at the age of 27, explores her Judaism, relationship to fame and coming-of-age in this 55-minute stand-up comedy special, which premiered on Netflix in December. Tiffany Haddish: Black Mitzvah is now streaming on Netflix.