The JOSEPHS Test For Accurate Media Portrayals of Orthodox Jews

by screenwriter Yael Levy

  1. Are there any Orthodox characters who are emotionally and psychologically stable? (Half a point if they occasionally smile. Two points if you’d want to hang out with any of them.)
  2. Are there characters who are Orthodox whose religious life is a characteristic but not a plot point or a problem? (Half a point if they can get through an entire scene without touching a religious object, mentioning a Torah verse, or speaking pedantically to the other characters.)
  3. Can the Orthodox character find her Happily Ever After as a religious Jew? (Or does it ONLY come about through leaving observance, and then all of her issues magically resolve?)
  4.  And if the main plot points are in conflict due to religious observance— are any characters not Hasidic or Haredi and have the writers actually researched authentic religious observance from practicing members of the community they are attempting to portray?

Here are some examples of TV shows that have not scored too high on the JOSEPHS test.

NBC Needs To Apologize For Their Libelous Portrayal of Hasidic Jews In “Nurses”

“Unorthodox” Tells Some People’s Ex-Hasidic Story, And Not Others

New Amsterdam “Sabbath” Episode Gets Closer To Realistic But Misses The Mark

Why Netflix’s New Romantic Comedy Isn’t Funny to Orthodox Jews

This Cable TV Show’s Mockery of Mikvah Is Unacceptable

Law and Order SVU “Unorthodox’s” Many Inaccuracies And Cringe-Worthy Moments

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