Posted by natsuki endless rave on January 13, 2011 at 19:07:32:
It takes more than a little chutzpah for anyone to declare a list of the 10 best TV shows of all time — let alone “The 10 Best Jewish TV Shows of All Time.” But that’s what one of Chicago’s most prominent and respected media scholars just did.
Wally Podrazik (pictured left), a commentator for Chicago Public Media’s Eight Forty-Eight morning show on WBEZ-FM (91.5), an instructor in the Communications Department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the consulting curator of Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communications, compiled the provocative list with longtime collaborator Harry Castleman. (Together they’ve written nine books, including the newly expanded second edition of their landmark Watching TV: Six Decades of American Television.)
In an article published in the January/February issue of the journal Moment, Podrazik and Castleman rose to the challenge of selecting what they consider the all-time best Jewish TV shows. For the record, Podrazik is Catholic and Castleman is Jewish.
Nu, so what does make a show “Jewish”? Here’s what Podrazik told me:
“There have been many Jewish writers, performers and executives throughout television history, so virtually any show might have some Jewish connection. To stand the test of time, it’s really about the whole package.
“Obviously there have been shows that specifically revolved around Jews (The Goldbergs, Brooklyn Bridge). There have been shows with specific Jewish themed episodes (Buddy has his bar mitzvah on Dick Van Dyke; The Rugrats tell the story of Passover.)
“Most others don’t explicitly label themselves as Jewish. Yet these shows, each in its own way, have come to embody ethnicity, sensibility and an attitude. Sid Caesar in his various comedy variety shows back in the 1950s; Jon Stewart today. Seinfeld is the perfect example. It’s not just Jerry. Pretty much everybody reflects that Jewish sensibility (courtesy of creators Seinfeld and Larry David). George Costanza? Doesn’t sound Jewish, but he acts it.
“It’s a say-what-you-mean, wry, deprecating way of looking at the world, with the expectation that the world is going to bite back at any moment. But you press on anyway —because that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
To read the full article and learn why they made the choices they did (and wonder, as I did, how they could have overlooked such obvious choices as Jack Benny, George Burns, Larry David, Garry Shandling, David Schwimmer and Roseanne), click here. Now without further ado, the following are, according to Podrazik and Castleman, “The Best Jewish TV Shows of All Time”:
Milton Berle’s Shows (1948-1956)
The Goldbergs (1949-1956)
Sid Caesar’s Shows (1949-1958)
The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966)
Saturday Night Live (1975-Present)
Brooklyn Bridge (1991-1993)
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1999-Present)
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