Rebel woman with a cause

Rebel woman with a cause

Rating: 4/5

Let’s just start off saying that a series like ‘Unorthodox’ on Netflix isn’t one of your typical shows. It’s a change from all the feel-good series one has been watching during the lockdown, because come on, how much of that over and over again can one take?

Based on a true story and adapted from Deborah Feldman’s 2012 memoir ‘Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots’, the Netflix mini-series is a four-episode Yiddish one, that shows Esther Shapiro (played by Shira Haas), aka Esty, who leaves behind her extremely conservative Hasidic Jewish community to secure a life for herself in Berlin. 

She’s a 19-year-old girl who has been trained from the very beginning that women are to be a certain way (read: get married, make plenty of babies and serve their man) and she was happy to do it all because she didn’t know any better. It was only when she actually realised how unfair the whole system was to women that she decided to put an end to it. 

She took the help of her ex-piano teacher (she has to quit because her new husband did not approve) to apply for German citizenship and fled to Berlin.

There she meets a group of music students who are hip, fashionable and too modern to anything she’s ever seen. In fact, everything she experienced after her escapade was completely new to her and she embraces it all without any problem. 

From shopping for jeans and realising she could show off her legs (her community required women to dress a certain way and stockings were a must), walking around without her well-maintained wig (it was customary for women to shave off their head after marriage and wear a wig at all time) to going to a club and dancing (in the presence of other men). 

Etsy is shown to be vulnerable but she’s not. She believes in feminism even though she’s never had a chance to experience it.

In between all her exploration of her new self, her husband Yanky Shapiro (played by Amit Rahav) and cousin Moishe Lefkovitch (Jeff Wilbusch) have come to take pregnant Etsy back to New York, following the command of their rabbi. 

When given a choice to either kill herself with a gun or come back to her traditional set-up, she stands her ground and auditions to join the music school her new friends are a part of. 

In Berlin, she finds self-love, freedom and a voice that she longed for. 

The series is thought-provoking, eerie, happy and powerful. It does not enforce the idea that religion/faith is bad; it just tells you that things don’t always have to be the way it has been followed for generations, that it’s okay to let go once in a while, and that it’s okay to love. 

Unfortunately, there won’t be a part two for this mini-series.

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