15 April 2020, The Tablet

Inside out


Inside out

Shira Haas is compelling as Esty in Unorthodox
Photo: Netflix, Anika Molnar



If ever there was a series suited to this period of fear, containment and isolation, it is Unorthodox (all four episodes now available on Netflix). An extraordinary dramatic examination, based on Deborah Feldman’s bestselling memoir, of life in an ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it focuses on the story of 19-year-old Esty who escapes and travels to Berlin to find her mother, her aim to study music at the conservatory there.

Esty lives with her grandmother, her mother having disappeared when she was young, having apparently abandoned her. At 17, the matchmaker finds her a husband, the sweet but innocent and over-mothered Yanky. I won’t reveal what happens (watch it!): the atmosphere is of a community turned in on itself, bound by a web of rules so intricate that the only power possible lies in mastering them.

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