Top 10 Israeli-Made TV Shows: A Must-Watch List of the Year!
In the Hebrew calendar year of 5782, Israel experienced a relatively uneventful year. No major elections or disasters took place, the seasonal military operations were brief, and the global pandemic began to diminish. Logically speaking, there were fewer reasons to be glued to television screens compared to previous years.
Unfortunately, the programming offered little excitement, with a slew of generic reality shows and unsuccessful current affairs programs. Even when a dystopian attack occurred in Tel Aviv, it failed to leave much of an impact.
While there were some Israeli-made programs available, the overall quality of TV series in 5782 paled in comparison to the previous year. Established series failed to impress, and the newcomers struggled to find their footing. However, a few exceptional programs managed to stand out.
Our selection of the top ten Israeli TV series of 5782 boasts several common elements. Four of them are thrilling, with four more being musical. The remaining series range from Hasidic dramas to youth comedies, with a primary focus on parent-child relationships and police investigations. Yehuda Levy starred in two of the shows, while Maor Cohen featured in two others. Nurit Gefen appeared in another two as well.
However, the most critical aspect was their ability to captivate audiences, encourage discussions, and provide insight into Israeli society. Here are our top ten picks:
10. Tehran (Kan 11): A gripping Israeli thriller with Niv Sultan that brings the secret war between Israel and Iran to life.
9. Shanot Hayereah (Hot): An autobiographical series from Aviv Gefen, which generated immense buzz on social media and featured exceptional acting and direction.
Although the year 5782 may have been lacking in significant events, it certainly delivered outstanding television to its viewers.
Shanot Hayereah is brimming with self-awareness, imbuing it with an unvarnished sincerity. Aviv Gefen, unafraid to acknowledge his shrill voice and the weight of his father's legacy, provides an unadorned but compelling view into his life, straight from the heart. The series is not without its bitterness and sobriety, but ultimately it is a sweet and touching coming-of-age drama about a boy trying to find his place in the world.
Alumim, much like its predecessors Bnei Or and The Good City, shines a harsh light on the neglected corners of Israel, and calls out those who ignore them. It follows a group of struggling boys from a rundown school as they try to break free from the cycles of poverty and violence that threaten to consume them. The young actors, particularly Ofek Pesach as the complex and layered Menachem, deliver powerful and moving performances that elevate the show beyond its flaws.
Yeladim B'Yar is a gripping suspense drama that delves into the dark and twisted world of baby trafficking and exploitation. Dalit Kahn's ambitious plot is full of twists and turns, sometimes veering into the realm of exaggeration and predictability. But the show's breakneck pace and compelling characters, led by Kahn and Yeftah Klein, make it a standout thriller and one of the best of its kind in Israel.
6-5. Menagen V'Shir (Yes), Hed Kolach (Kan 11)
Menagen V'Shir and Hed Kolach have a strong familial bond, despite being distinct musical series that aired simultaneously. The shows highlight absentee fathers and protagonists who carry on their musical legacy. In both, a portion of inheritance is stolen, and the main characters are reality TV veterans who detest covers and prioritize authenticity. Moreover, the two series thoroughly embrace the music of past generations.
Menagen V'Shir centers on budding singer Gili Hadad and his relationship with Yahi, a black-market patron. Though the show flew under the radar, its outstanding cast, led by Bar Tzabri and Shashon Gabai, performed exceptionally, cementing the themes of family into the plot.
On the other hand, Hed Kolach interweaves three generations of male musicians, with complex storylines and subtle nuances. Despite the complexity, the music serves as the key to the plot, almost as if the series was written based solely on the songs. Reachable only in the show, the soundtrack is an exceptional collection of songs covered by the main characters, making it a concept album that caters to all music lovers.
4. My Nephew Benz (Kan Educational)
The best-comedic show aired this year and got its start on the Kan Educational channel. My Nephew Benz follows Satan's son's attempts to pass off as human to graduate high school. The show is witty and subversive, appealing to the youth and adults alike, and highlights the social system of high school through the lens of an outsider. It stands as a parody of all high school series and other societal norms.
The excellent crew boasts of talented young boys as protagonists and great comedians in guest roles, making it an excellent watch. However, Usherit Sarosi and Geet Fisher carry the show and propel audiences into uncontrollable fits of laughter.
3. Sisu V'Simhu (Kan 11)
Sisu V'Simhu, a military comedy, centers on the Military Rabbinical Choir, a place where order and logic hold no meaning. The choir's primary function is to uphold Jewish law, yet it operates more like a circus than an institution. Sisu V'Simhu breaks all boundaries, presenting a daring and flagrant series, defying realism and regulation.
Sisu V'Simhu may not be consistently high-quality and fails to completely tackle sensitive topics, but it more than makes up for it with its wild and often extreme humor, which adds an out-of-control skit-like atmosphere that has a musical element to it. The show proves that even the most mundane of spaces can be transformed into a spectacle with some purposeful exaggeration. Jokes are made in purification rooms, soldiers avoid circumcision, and the band struggles not to be humiliated.
Manayek's second season may not have been as good as the first, but it still comes in second place among the less impressive crop of Israeli television shows this year. The season continues to establish Izzy Bacher, portrayed by Shalom Assig, as a culturally-relevant detective. He has won the hearts of Israelis due to his vigorous attitude, improvisation skills, and ability to speak out against corruption and cowardice even when it comes from his closest associates. In this season, despite its turbulent events, the keyword is restraint in everything from the game and conduct to promoting the larger plan. Barak Harel, played by Amos Tamm, exemplifies this restraint with his stone-cold demeanor and silence throughout most of the season, which culminates in a powerful performance during a reveal of his cruelty. The series often lacks any catharsis, instead opting for more blows to its Sisyphean heroes, who keep rolling the investigation up the hill only to start again with more scars. Although Manayek's world is rich and multifaceted, it poses the question of whether the show is near exhaustion as the same cat-and-mouse game starts to repeat itself without any new mysteries. However, the emotional conflict between Izzy and Barak, which was almost non-existent in the season, makes a powerful comeback in the final two episodes.
Rikud Ha'Esh created by Rama Burstein is drawn into controversy with accusations that the series acted as a defense letter for Eliezer Berland. However, it stands on its own as an exemplary work with one of the most stunning characters in television this year. The series is full of strong and touching visuals, making it seem like a Midrashic legend or Hasidic anecdote that links the spirit to the ground. While it can be difficult to pinpoint the series' essence due to its reasoning scenes, enigmatic dialogues, and nuances that slip through the fingers like mercury, Rikud Ha'Esh is undeniably magnetic. It strikes a balance between the big and small, incredibly intimate yet vast. The series maintains this uneasy balance through beautiful and attractive writing, magical direction, and outstanding performances, especially from the inexperienced Mia Ibrin, who plays the demanding main role with strength and stubbornness. Moreover, Yehuda Levy is captivating in his portrayal of a complicated rabbi, winning him the best actor award at the Series Mania festival for his role. Because of all these, Rikud Ha'Esh is our series of the year.
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