By Batia Segal, Business Editor
“My Unorthodox Life” is a Netflix reality show that follows the Haart family and their whereabouts in New York City. The mother, Julia, is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Elite World Group, a major modeling management company. The main idea of the show is to tell the story of Julia Haart, a woman who left her Orthodox life in Monsey, New York to liberate herself and become a powerhouse in the business world.
The show is attempting to shine light upon the dangers of extremism and the beauty of luxury. For example, there is one scene where her fourteen-year-old son Aaron reveals to Julia that he does not watch TV nor talk to girls anymore in an attempt to gear his focus toward Torah. This revelation brought Julia to tears, as she became frantic that her son would turn into what she left behind in Monsey. Interestingly enough, it is not her son who is practicing extremism, it is actually Julia. Most parents would be happy to see their children focused on their studies and freeing themselves of distraction by their own will, but Haart is so afraid of, as she puts it, “fundamentalism,” that it makes her extreme in the opposite direction. She prefers to fuel her son with distractions. Her initial attempt at this was the day that her son was in the city, she brought in an inappropriately dressed drag queen opera singer. This, in my opinion, is utterly inappropriate for a fourteen-year-old, but leaving her Orthodoxy in Monsey did not make Julia more open-minded; instead, she closed herself off to those who do not find meaning in her way of life. This, too, is extremism, and I think the show does a good job of highlighting that.
On the flip side, the show does not do a good job of causing their audience to covet the life of the luxurious lifestyle of the Haarts. For comparison’s sake, “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” a reality show that follows the wealthy Kardashian family’s life, creates a sense of escapism for the audience. The Kardashians make their lavish lifestyle seem effortless and therefore more covetable while the Haarts seem to be putting a lot of effort into not being Orthodox, hence the show’s name, instead of simply being who they are. This is prominent from the first episode and its title, “She Wears The Pants,” The identity of the show is not to highlight the fruit of Julia’s hard work as a business mogul; rather; it is to highlight a life that they’re not even living. Because of this, the audience is less likely to become inspired by the Haart family and their hard work, instead it creates skepticism of Julia’s heavy criticism of the ultra-Orthodox community and potentially fuels a person’s preexisting spite for the religious community.
In other words, a series that could have served as inspiration for women is serving to bring down others.
All in all, “My Unorthodox Life” is great for anyone who enjoys trashy reality, like myself. With that being said, the directors could have easily shifted the focus of the show away from her leaving religiosity. On the other hand, the series is terrible for anyone who does not like low-quality television, highly judgemental and materialistic people or the bashing of Orthodoxy.