On ‘Arrested Development,’ Discovering Judaism
This week in Jewcy, our partner site
Each Friday we bring you a look at the best from Jewcy.com, our partner site. This week, a look at the dysfunctional Bluth family from Arrested Development, whose incarcerated patriarch discovers Judaism unexpectedly—and insincerely:
While the manipulations of those like Gob (Will Arnett) and Lucille (Jessica Walter) are often shallow and unintentional, George Sr.’s (Jeffrey Tambor) are the most successful, as he manages to manipulate every situation he finds himself in, even pitting his sons Gob and Michael (Jason Bateman) against one another for personal gain in a perverse rendering of the Jacob and Esau story. Sent to solitary confinement after an escape attempt from prison, George Sr. witnesses a sign from above—a shadow on the wall in the shape of a Star of David, complete with that schmaltzy clarinet music—and decides to become a Jew, crafting an improvised yarmulke out of his felt shoe (leaving an amusing tan line).
What this Judaism actually accomplishes is not much at all—he speaks slower and softer, he is exempt from the infamous “no touching” rule, but he’s still an unrepentant and self-interested liar (the producer, Mitchell Hurwitz, and several cast members are in fact MOTs—including Tambor, something he discussed with Marc Maron earlier this year.
Despite any signs of a moral turn-around, George Sr.’s turn to Judaism is insincere—as we’ve come to expect from any attempt at change from the Bluths. He informs Michael during a visit that it’s the first day of Yom Kippur, but even Michael knows that the holiday only lasts one day and that it was “back in September.” And although he calls himself a scholar, much of what he cites as Jewish religious insight, either in his Torah study group in prison or his gimmicky video series “Caged Wisdom” is not particularly serious or Jewish at all. One would be hard-pressed to find Rabbis debating how to spell “Hanukkah,” and as far as I know, finding joy in solitude—the basis behind his conversion—is not a particularly Jewish value at all, considering that much of Jewish life consists of being part of a group, either in a minyan or a mahjong game.
Read the rest here.
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