Peak TV’s Unapologetic Jewish Woman: Exploring Jewish Female Representation in Contemporary Television Comedy analyzes the ways in which contemporary American television—with its unprecedented choice, diversity, and authenticity—is establishing a new version of the Jewish woman and a new take on American Jewish female identity that challenges the stereotypes of Jewish femininity proliferated on television since its inception. Using case studies of streaming, cable, and network comedy series from the past decade written and created by Jewish women, including Broad City, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, among others, this book illustrates how this new Jewish woman has been given voice and agency by the bevy of Jewish female showrunners interested in telling stories about Jewish women for wider audiences.
Samantha Pickette is assistant professor of Instruction in Jewish Studies and the assistant director of the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
Chapter 1: “The situation’s a lot more nuanced than that”: Jewish Mothers, JAPs, and the Correlation between Mental Illness and Jewish Female “Craziness” in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Chapter 2: A Modern Jewish Big Mouth in 1950s New York: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as a Contemporary Re-imagining of the Midcentury Jewish Woman
Chapter 3: Precarious Broads, Difficult Girls, and Baby Grown-Ups: Defining the Unapologetic Jewess on Broad City and Difficult People
Chapter 4: The (New) Dysfunctional Jewish Family: Jewish Mothers and Jewish Family Life on Network, Cable, and Streaming Television
Peak TV’s Unapologetic Jewish Woman is simultaneously a deep dive into some important case studies and an expansive new reading of Jewishness on American television. Pickette has crafted a story about the evolution of the depiction of Jewish womanhood. She offers sharp, insightful readings of both classic and recent television shows, comparing and contrasting their use (and sometimes misuse) of Jewish women characters. She ends with the question ‘where do we go from here?’ but the book has left very little doubt that where we go from here is on to ever more unapologetic Jewish women populating the airwaves.
Samantha Pickette’s brilliant illumination of Jewish and gendered self-representation in television and streaming programming is sensitive, savvy, and often moving. Revealing in thoughtful detail ‘the ways in which Jewishness can take shape in the daily lives of young secular Jews,’ her penetrating and compelling discussions of characters, plots, and settings utilize the skills of ethnography as well as cinematic and literary analysis. You cannot find a more coherent and insightful guide to the panorama of outrageous, entertaining, and sometimes irritating women and men acting out their Jewishness on contemporary screens.
Peak TV’s Unapologetic Jewish Woman: Exploring Jewish Representation in Contemporary Television Comedy did not disappoint. Although it’s an academic study, it’s chock full of gems that will add to communal debates about such shows as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Broad City,
and Transparent... But the reader who can get past [the] academic tics will be rewarded with a Jewish feminist lay of contemporary TV land. And I think most readers will find themselves eager not only for the next generation of Jewish TV but also for Pickette’s commentary on it.
12/6/23, Lilith: This book is included in the “Eighteen Books Lilith Loved This Year” list.