By Frankie Raudnitz, Third Year, English
My housemates and I devoured season one of My Unorthodox Life (2021-), and season two was no different. A fascinating look into ex-ultra-orthodox Jewish Julia Haart and her family, the season navigates love, divorce, family dynamics and how the mega-rich of New York City live.
While season one was pretty light, season two highlighted new themes. The season starts with Julia’s divorce from Silvio, whilst Batshava divorces Ben. Shlomo is still shy, Aaron is still moving closer to his religion, and Miriam Haart is still quite cringy and the queen of PDA. Robert, Julia’s best friend, was still our favourite, but his new boyfriend, Ra’ed, proved to be more controversial.
The most important thing you should know about Julia Haart is that she is devoted to her children. In the first part of the season, Batsheva and Miriam (and her girlfriend Nathalie) live in Julia’s penthouse apartment. Her ex-husband Silvio credits the bulk of their break up to this closeness. It seems that Julia is set on an amicable divorce where nobody is splitting their assets, and their business partnership will stay the same, with her remaining CEO of Elite World Group.
Once Julia finds out that Silvio has hired a divorce attorney, things turn ugly. This is when the dark side of Julia Haart really starts to show. Her extremely intense reliance on her children can make for an uncomfortable watch, while her obsession with the divorce completely consumes her and makes her ill.
In one episode, Robert and Ra’ed take her out to a bar, and she ends up hooking up with a boy younger than her 22-year-old daughter Miriam.
Whilst all the legal drama ensues, oldest daughter Batsheva is exploring her newfound freedom with casual dating and becoming an influencer. After losing weight, Robert has extensive plastic surgery on his body and is navigating Ra’ed’s desire for an open relationship. Miriam is debating going into business with her mother, while Aron is moving closer towards Orthodox Judaism and wants to go to a religious school.
The whole family face interesting challenges and growth this season, and it’s fascinating to watch a deeper look into these issues following season 1.
One criticism of the show is that we don’t actually see very much how exactly Julia left her Ultra-Orthodox community and became a business tycoon. Since this is the basis of what makes the show unique, you’d hope for a little more backstory on her journey to a new life.
Another criticism arose from some research from the law student in our flat. After reading the 50-page inquest into the court case, she found that while it is currently perceived by many viewers that Julia was cold-heartedly blindsided by her ex-husband Silvio, the facts don’t quite support this narrative.
Silvio was effectively able to shun her out of the company because he owned more than half of the shares in the company. He sneakily owned a single share more than Julia - rendering that fraction of ownership over Elite World Group enough to exercise the power he did.
Nonetheless, Julia was, for at least one year before the legal showdown, aware of this. Yet, she claimed throughout the entire court case that they were equal shareholders.
Not a single document provided by her team to support this claim was deemed as anything close to proving this. Obviously, you can’t take a reality TV show at face value as it is very selective. However, this doesn’t come close to the dramatic and ‘stabbed in the back’ reaction that Julia exhibited in her show.
Alongside this, many of the characters come across as pretty unlikeable; Ra’ed is a complete hypocrite, Julia is over-reliant on her kids, Miriam is super cringy, and her girlfriend is pretty open about her insatiable desire for a green card and how she will marry Miriam if that is what it takes.
You would think being exposed to millions of viewers across the globe would perhaps put both Nathalie and the producers off from making such statements in front of the cameras.
Aside from the embezzlement of the truth and slightly jarring personalities, the best part of the show is watching the characters interact. On the surface, it’s a shallow, trashy show made for mindless entertainment. But what it does really well is developing a storyline for each individual, which definitely keeps you invested.
Fundamentally, you are watching a real family live through an enormous legal battle, which exposes real emotions, family conflicts and flaws. The storylines are interesting, their lives are glamorous and exciting, and you end up loving all of the characters, despite their flaws.
It is a really enjoyable watch which leaves you with lots to discuss, and I would definitely recommend it.
Featured Image: Netflix on IMDB
Do you like reality tv shows too? My Unorthodox Life is streaming now on Netflix.