Sunday, October 10, 2010

Israel's "Office"

This clip introduces "Leah", the Angela character on Israel's "Office". I see what the writers are trying to do here, but I'm not yet sure they've done it well. Angela is overtly Christian, and overly strict but she has an attractive vulnerability; though she can be cruel she isn't petty. Angela is also something of a sexual dynamo. Leah, on the other hand, is a charedi who opposes army service. Her concerns about food and kosher certifications seem small while the husband suggested by her pregnancy would seem to rule out the extra circular activities that redeem Angela (as a fictional creation) and make her an interesting, conflicted character.

:: What kind of Charedi is Leah? The objection to army service suggests she's from the kollel community, but the clothing and jewelry don't fit. If she's meant to be chardal (which seems more likely) perhaps she's not objecting to army service in general, but merely saying that she, as a woman, would never dream of serving. The former seems more likely but the latter offers better comedic opportunities. Micheal Scott vs, a kolel wife would be pure gold.

:: On Twitter, some are arguing that the Leah character is a cheap stab at the religious community. I'm not sure. Though we'll know more after the character and series have been given a chance to develop, its important to remember that the U.K and U.S Office are both about damaged, maladaptive people. The U.S version has a damaged and maladaptive Christian, and at least two damaged and maladaptive hedonists (Creed and Meredith) so what's out of order about a damaged, maladaptive Charedi in the Israeli version? Moreover, its essential to remember that "Leah" is an invention, a fictional character. She doesn't have to be "accurate". She's not real. A depiction of a fictional character who happens to be charedi should not be understood as a claim about all (or any) real haredim. (Thought some will perhaps take offense at the suggestion that a charedi might be anything but perfect. See, when you're part of the perfect community and perfectly following God's perfect laws, a damaged and maladaptive personality isn't a possible outcome.)

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