New Yorker: Of all the unlikely runaway hits in the history of television, “Shtisel” must be near the top of the list. The show, which débuted in Israel in 2013, has no nudity, no violence, and no dragons. Its characters are Haredi Jews, whom English speakers usually call “ultra-Orthodox,” and its raciest moment involves a woman trying to discourage a suitor by taking off her sheitel and revealing her graying hair. When the series came to Netflix, at the end of 2018, secular Jews everywhere went crazy for it. My phone lit up with messages from “Shtisel”-obsessed friends in Stockholm and Paris. On the Upper West Side, my parents were hooked. Newspapers around the globe covered “ ‘Shtisel’-mania,” and members of the tribe not normally inclined to piety reported that they had taken to kissing mezuzahs upon entering and leaving a room.
Such fans were surely responding, in part, to a bittersweet sense of shared heritage: there but for some ancestor who threw away his yarmulke go we. Then it was reported that Haredi viewers (the very phrase is something of an oxymoron) were also binge-watching the show. Observant Muslims said that they were glad to see a religious community depicted with such sensitivity; a Norwegian Christian confessed that “Shtisel” made him long for the childhood he never had in Geula, the Jerusalem neighborhood where the show is set. In short, people loved this series, and now there is more of it to love. A third season, produced in response to the passionate reception of the first two, has just been released, and it is as funny, moving, and humane as they were.