ARD series on Jewish families: undoubtedly good

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Written By Maya Cantina

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It doesn’t happen often that the German series produces something special. This was achieved with the ARD series “Die Zweiflers”.

A woman feeds a man with a fork

Samuel, Saba and a few treats Photo: ARD/HR/dpa

Anyone who wants to assess the state of the German serial landscape from ‘The Doubts’ is left with a depressing view. Because anyone who reads through the reviews and online comments on the six-part ARD series will encounter one thing in particular: surprise, almost disbelief that this should be a German series. It’s way too good, maybe the best thing this country has ever seen. And it’s true. “The Doubts” convinces precisely because it is not German in the best sense of the word and dares something.

The story by showrunner David Hadda, who wrote it together with Sarah Hadda and Juri Sternburg, is very German. The focus is on the Jewish-German Zweiflers family, who run a delicatessen in Frankfurt’s Bahnhofsviertel. The 90-year-old patriarch Symcha (Mike Burstyn) wants to sell the flourishing company or find a successor. But is anyone in the family made for this job?

Mimi (very well played by Sunnyi Melles), who spends all her energy planning the circumcision of her grandchild, and her husband, who is overwhelmed by himself Sex therapist, doesn’t seem like an option. And the adult grandchildren also seem to lead an emancipated life in their desires and have their minds completely elsewhere than when it comes to the subject of kosher sausage and vodka cake: in the art and rap world, in having children and divorces, in emigrating and returning. And the question of how one can live as and with a Jewish family in Frankfurt am Main in 2015, including hereditary trauma.

Playing with and breaking stereotypes

But Symcha not only suffers from the difficult search for a successor, he is also confronted with his past. Tabloid media I don’t want him to forget how, after surviving the Holocaust, he started his career in Frankfurt’s red light district. And then there is Siggi (Martin Wuttke), who has just been released from prison, who blackmails him so that the bodies of the doubters do not come to light.

Each family member, including the love and friendship attachments, gets their own story. But instead of overloading the storyline, the authors managed to create diverse characters. Characters who come so close to you, who you can love and hate, who can sympathize with you and who can give you a nervous breakdown. They play with stereotypes and break them at the right time. The fact that this is successful is not only due to the script, but also to the actors, the modern setting and the camera work.

The protagonists are sometimes allowed to speak English or English for extended periods of time Yiddish speak. And identity questions do not need to be answered, they can only be asked occasionally. Like when grandson Samuel (Aaron Altaras) falls in love with the black chef Saba (Saffron Coomber). Shortly after their meeting, the two enter into an ironic battle about what was actually worse: the Holocaust or slavery. She says, “They put us on display in zoos!”, to which he replies, “But they were made into lampshades.” She replies, “We were sold at auction!” Debates that appear here as punchlines without becoming embarrassing.

Courage is worth it

Courage was rewarded. Not only with astonishing reviews, but also with the prize as best series at the International Series Festival in Cannes.

You don’t necessarily have to have your own big ideas. Anyone who follows the American series world will recognize a lot in ‘The Doubts’. The story of a patriarch looking for a successor is reminiscent of “Succession”. The background music, the camera work and the sometimes bizarre characters keep you entertained “White Lotus” think. The close-up of the food and the stress are similar “The bear”. Sometimes the best way is simple: good imitation instead of bad reinvention.

We can only hope that series creators and financiers in Germany will be inspired by this courage and that in the future there will be a little more variety in the snarling German world of Nazi clan crime scene series. Maybe one day we will no longer be surprised that we have seen a good German series.

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