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April 8, 2022 8:55 am
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The Second Season of ‘The New Black’ Is Even Better Than the First

avatar by Alan Zeitlin

Opinion

An image from “The New Black.” Photo: provided.

It’s rare that a show’s second season is stronger than its first.

But that’s definitely true in the case of “The New Black,” available April 12 on Chaiflicks. The show about four Haredi schoolmates, which aired as “Shababnikim” in Israel, boasts lovable characters that you will care about.

In season two, Dov Laser and Meir Sabag, played splendidly by Omer Perelman Striks and Israel Atias, take a serious interest in women that their parents would likely have big problems with: a divorced woman with a son, and a woman missing a limb. They also both have conflicts with their fathers.

The show also benefits from the amazing performances of Ori Laizerouvich as Gedaliah, who has newfound power in this season, and gets a hilarious moment when he sings a song to his love interest, Devora.

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The divide between the religious and the secular is given a lot of attention in the season, like when a secular school has females doing yoga, and, not surprisingly, the yeshiva boys seeing this have difficulties focusing on the Talmud. Writer, director, and co-creator Eliran Malka has set up great conflicts for each of the four lead characters in the group. The character of Avinoam, for example, must prove his worth not only to his father, a Knesset member, but to himself.

Besides showing that Haredi men with black hats face some of the same challenges as everyone else, it’s clear from watching Malka’s work that you are watching greatness. The series is also provocative. There’s one moment where a secular students tells Avinoam she bet 200 shekels that he is not a virgin, and he replies that she lost the best. The drama in season two is also ratcheted up by a Torah tournament that is more exciting than one would expect.

The series has drawn comparisons to “Entourage,” with Daniel Gad’s Avinoam being a bit like Adrian Grenier’s Vincent Chase — if only he was a religious Jew.

The finale was a bit abrupt, but is meant to be a cliffhanger. It’s no surprise that the show has won numerous Israeli Television Academy Awards, including Best Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy.

Can the third season be better than the second? It’s a tall order, but I wouldn’t put it past Malka and his four stellar lead actors.

The author is a writer based in New York.

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