‘My Unorthodox Life’ ruffles feathers but you can’t help but applaud fashion mogul Julia Haart’s chutzpah
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A reality TV show can be a hit or a miss, depending on what the viewer is looking to take away from it.
“Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (KUWTK) was built around the beauty, fame and success of a close-knit, entrepreneurial family.
And for 20 glorious seasons, viewers lapped up every melodramatic moment as the royal family of reality TV navigated their way through triumphs and failures in their personal and professional lives.
Scandals were a double-edged sword. It made them more popular but also easy targets.
I loved that it also explored their Armenian roots along the way.
The exposure to different cultures, especially in the lives of the rich and famous have manifested in a plethora of offerings including “The Real Housewives” franchise, “Bling Empire”, “Selling Sunsets”, “The Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives” and, last but not least, “Indian Matchmaking”.
Like many addicts of reality TV, it’s been a struggle finding a series that comes remotely close to “KUWTK”.
Yes, there have been plenty of suggestions, some even drafted by myself, but nothing mirrored its appeal until now.
Yes, I’m putting my reputation on the line here. But “My Unorthodox Life” gets my vote as the new reality fix to fill that void.
As the title suggests, there’s nothing Kosher about the show’s approach. And, honestly, it has and will continue to come under heavy criticism for being so.
But it is a celebration of one woman’s journey to discovering herself, her sexuality and her place in the world.
Her decision to walk away from a lifestyle that she found oppressive wasn’t without sacrifices. And she defied naysayers by not just becoming a success story but by also living her truth and, more importantly, embracing her freedom.
This reality show focuses on her choice to walk away from a lifestyle she found oppressive on many levels.
A barefaced feminist, fashion mogul Julia Haart’s values go against the teachings of the Torah.
The no-holds-barred tone of the series was evident from episode one, where Julia is seen having a frank conversation about sex and roleplay with her TikTok star daughter Batsheva and son-in-law Ben Weinstein, who is in real estate.
The CEO of Elite World Group, which represents some of the biggest catwalk queens in the world, she is a testament to the cliché that dynamite comes in small packages.
Oh-so-glamorous and stylish, Julia is a force to be reckoned with. And her second husband, Silvio Scaglia, was clearly drawn to her spirited side. So much so, that he defied convention and took on her surname.
Viewers get to see the different sides to Julia. Her foresight as an entrepreneur is not just inspiring, it’s commendably disruptive. As a mother, she’s empowering, supportive and, unintentionally, overbearing.
She has no filter when she talks but it often comes from a good place.
I love how she is unconditionally supportive of her app designer daughter Miriam’s sexuality. She pushes her to embrace the opportunities out there and to never compromise on what she wants.
In many ways, Miriam shares a similar mindset to her mother: she isn’t one to follow the rules.
Then there is Shlomo (Julia’s eldest son). He is a mild-mannered lawyer and like Batsheva still follows certain Jewish practices and remains religious at heart while embracing liberal sensibilities.
The youngest in the family is Aron, who still lives with his dad Yosef Hendler in Monsey, New York.
A high school student, he finds himself conflicted between staying true to his religious upbringing or embracing the world the rest of his siblings and mother live in.
While viewers get to be a fly-on-the-wall in her life, be it at Julia’s penthouse, Bat and Ben’s home as well as the ultra-chic offices at Elite World Group, they also meet the extended family of which, Robert Brotherton, the company’s flamboyant COO, is an integral part of.
He is Julia’s confidante and best friend. The interactions between the two of them are also one of the best things about the series.
As with her children, she’s a mama bear to him as well.
Julia embraces her opulent lifestyle with the vigour of a supermodel on the catwalk. She’s flashy, generous (I mean she did rent out a castle for the entire family for Paris Fashion Week) and has that unmistakable chutzpah.
She may not be popular for her beliefs in her community, for her autobiography, for showing a lot of skin, or for her lifestyle but, as far as I’m concerned, her L’chaim (which means a toast to life in Hebrew) makes her the spirit animal for most women, myself included.
“My Unorthodox Life” is currently streaming on Netflix.