I love “Shtisel,” you love “Shtisel,” everybody loves “Shtisel.”
The Israeli show, about a haredi Orthodox family of the same last name, has taken U.S. audiences by storm. Streaming on Netflix, this show has been covered by the New York Times and even has a Facebook fan group.
“Shtisel” is truly an impeccable show. Its single flaw? It has only two seasons and unlikely to have a third.
If you’ve already plowed through the series, what to binge watch now? Do not fret. From Netflix to Amazon, the world is onto the fact that Israel makes some truly incredible TV.
These days, there is a delightful array of Israeli content (with English subtitles) on all your favorite streaming platforms. Seriously, it’s an embarrassment of riches. What’s even better is that many of these shows have cast members in common with “Shtisel” — Israel is a small country, after all.
So grab your Bissli (or snack of choice), put those kids to bed (or if they’re older, plop them on the couch by you) and get ready to binge your heart out.
“A Touch Away” (Amazon Prime)
Like “Shtisel,” this show also explores the life of an observant family — in this case, in the religious city of Bnei Brak. However, it is very, very different. It’s is a Romeo-and-Juliet love story about the secular son of a Russian immigrant and the daughter of a haredi Orthodox family. “A Touch Away” is a touching story of forbidden love, but it also has a great portrayal of what it’s like to be a Russian immigrant in Israel and to feel like a second-class citizen in many ways. Unlike “Shtisel,” which handles the religious world with sensitivity and nuance, this drama can be a bit heavy-handed, but it’s still an enjoyable viewing experience.
“The Baker and the Beauty” (Amazon Prime)
High production value, a gorgeous cast, lots of drama and even one cute overbearing Yemeni Jewish mom. What doesn’t this soapy show have? In this star-crossed romance, poor pita baker Amos meets Noa, an international supermodel and actress, and an explosive romance ensues. But Noa’s agent and Amos’ ex band together to try to break the two apart. Will true love conquer all? Watch and find out! In the words of Walter Iuzzolino, who selects free streaming shows for Channel 4 in Britain: “If TV is a drug, then this is an addictive, delicious medicine that’s guaranteed to make you feel better.” I concur.
“False Flag” (Hulu)
“False Flag” is terrific and a total nail-biter. In its first season, five Israelis wake up one morning to find that they are implicated in the assassination of an Iranian politician. They’re teachers, new immigrants and a bride on her wedding day — not really folks you’d expect to be involved in a complicated Mossad mission. The news wreaks havoc on their lives and puts them under scrutiny from the media and the police. But are they as innocent as they profess to be? Watch this show to find out. No, seriously: Watch it. (And yes, there is an American adaptation in the works — just like there is for “Shtisel,” by the way.)
I swear I watched the entire first season of this suspenseful drama in one evening. Ayelet Zurer, whom you might know from “Shtisel” (as Akiva Shtisel’s first love interest, Elisheva), stars as a surgeon about to get the gig of a lifetime: She’s going to operate on the Israeli prime minister. But alas, her family gets taken hostage, and in order to secure their release, she must do one thing: ensure the prime minister does not survive the surgery. Will she do the right thing? Will she rescue her family? Will there be some steamy illicit romance? (Yes.) You can watch its two seasons on Netflix right now, but just make sure you choose the right “Hostages,” as there’s one that’s a documentary about a 1996 hostage crisis in Peru.
“Prisoners of War” (Hulu)
If you liked Showtime’s “Homeland,” I think it’s safe to say you’ll enjoy the two seasons of this very different but just as suspenseful show. In fact, “Homeland” is based on “Prisoners of War.” In this show, two captured soldiers are released from Lebanon, to the delight of their family and the country, which embraces them and tries to help them recover from the trauma of 17 years in captivity. But when their stories don’t really match, things get complicated — making for some really outstanding television.
“Srugim” (Amazon Prime)
I like to say “Srugim” is like the religious version of “Friends” — if the show took place in Jerusalem and was actually good (sorry, I’m a “Friends” hater). In three seasons, this delightful drama explores the dating lives of observant singles, the complexities of wanting both to date and be deliberate about life, and the pressing need and pressure to get married from your family, and you know, the world.
“Mossad 101” (Netflix)
This show’s first season is melodramatic and hilarious in the best of ways. Focusing on a group of people training to become Mossad agents, this show features comedian Hana Laszlo — whom you may know as the matchmaker’s widow, Menukha Kenigsberg, in “Shtisel” — as an aspiring agent at the prestigious and secretive intelligence agency. It’s second and final season takes itself perhaps too seriously but is still worth the watch.
“Mekimi” (Amazon Prime)
This show is a secret gem. It’s based on an autobiographical story of the same title written by Noa Yaron-Dayan, a former TV and radio personality who joined the Breslov Hasidic sect. In the series, Alma falls in love with Ben, who, in turn, slowly falls in love with religion. Is there room for all three in this love triangle? Watch this short series that really tugs at the heartstrings to find out.
If you haven’t watched “Fauda” yet, remedy this ASAP. This series has everything going for it. With both Palestinian and Jewish fans, the drama, which has two seasons so far, was created by and stars Lior Raz, and is loosely based on his army experiences in the Duvdevan Unit, known for its covert operations. It’s about secret agents, targeted killings, suicide bombings and so much more, but it explores these topics with depth and sensitivity.