Netflix hasn't shied away from making waves in the world of reality TV in recent years, but its latest addition to its reality lineup is stirring controversy. While titles like Too Hot to Handle, The Circle and the recently-debuted Sexy Beasts have all earned their fair share of buzz online, the Wednesday, July 14 debut of My Unorthodox Life has sparked plenty of talk from viewers.
Dubbed by the streamer as a journey through an "untamed, unpredictable, and unorthodox life," the nine-part series follows fashion mogul Julia Haart, a former member of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community turned CEO of Elite World Group. Haart, a mother of four – she is mom to a TikToker, an app designer, a lawyer, and a high schooler – "has been on a mission to revolutionize the industry from the inside out" while helping her children "reconcile their orthodox upbringings with the modern world." However, the series has been met with mixed reviews, with some believing it perpetuates damaging stereotypes about the Orthodox community as Haart, throughout the series, often criticizes the customs she grew up with.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Sarah Ickovitz said she "never felt oppressed the way Julia Haart says Orthodox women are. Everybody has their own experiences, but I went to Bais Yaakov, too, and I can say [Haart's] claims that women aren't free to become whatever they want are just not true." Some, including Devorah Kigel, a Manhattan-based Orthodox educator on the role of women in Judaism, have even said they are boycotting My Unorthodox Life. Kigel noted that "for the average American, secular Jew or non-Jew, they don't have much exposure to what Orthodox life is like… This show, in particular, is very fabricated, and what frustrates me most is that she wasn't honest about her experiences growing up… But the fact that she deliberately fabricated her life and the details, in a huge Netflix series, that's the problem." Kigel said that rather than telling "her true story," Haart "went the Keeping up with the Kardashians route, and it's just not tasteful."
Amid the controversy, Normal Frum Women podcast co-host and columnist for Mishpacha magazine Alexandra Flesshe began the "[My Orthodox Life]" hashtag, encouraging other Orthodox women to share their own truths. The hashtag has gained momentum, with both Orthodox women and those simply sitting down to watch the show using it to share their opinions. Keep scrolling to see what people are saying about My Unorthodox Life.
"[My Unorthodox Life] is a joke," tweeted one viewer. "Other than everything being scripted and fake, this woman married a billionaire who owned the companies she is now the CEO of. 99% of people who leave an Orthodox community like that or similar, really really struggle. This isn't it."prevnext
This show, #MyUnorthodoxLife is very intriguing and entertaining.— Miquel Geanette (@_mick_eezy) July 23, 2021
"So, [My Unorthodox Life] is really about nepotism when you get down to it," wrote one person. "The parallels to Succession are so obvious along with how the kids are all fighting for Julia's attention."prevnext
"Just finished binge watching the show," shared another viewer. "My take on this is that Julia should stop trying to impose her choices on her kids."prevnext
Just on the first episode and really not sure if to continue with #MyUnorthodoxLife— Kelly (@s26kel) July 25, 2021
"[Boycott] [Netflix] over [My Unorthodox Life]," one person encouraged. "Can one single [Netflix] show showcase [Judaism] n a positive light? It's a beautiful religion."prevnext
I reaaaally want to like this show #MyUnorthodoxLife. I really do. But— J. Coop (@JasCooper) July 20, 2021
"Watching [My Unorthodox Life] and whilst I'm not Jewish there are definitely parallels between Jewish and Muslim fundamentalist communities," wrote somebody else. "But I definitely think the portrayal of the Orthodox community was not balanced at all and portrayed them really negatively."prevnext
The Haarts are the new Kardashians. #MyUnorthodoxLife— CynDel7 (@Cynthia27252307) July 25, 2021
"Sick and tired at string of [Netflix] & Hollywood shows denigrating religious Jews," tweeted a viewer. "[My Unorthodox Life] is just the latest. There are so many strong, confident, inspiring Orthodox Jews, like Beatie Deutsch, Mother-of-Five & champion marathon runner. Try profiling them for a change!"prevnext
#MyUnorthodoxLife is a show that glorifies elitism and nepotism with a dash of narcissism from Miriam and Julia...and yet I cannot stop watching.— C. Brice (@dxtinebrice) July 21, 2021
"The same people who think Keeping up with the Kardashians, the Bachelorette and Desperate Housewives resembles reality, will likely also think [My Unorthodox Life] tells a true story," wrote another person. "Ill let you in on a secret: It doesnt!"prev