From the moment I started watching Netflix’s new reality show My unorthodox life– following the shenanigans of Elite World Group CEO Julia Haart and her family – I knew I would have questions. In the opening scene of the first episode, the viewer is immersed in Julia’s relationship with her daughter Batsheva and her son-in-law Ben Weinstein. The three are seated at a table in Julia’s apartment in Tribeca, discussing the young couple’s sex life, while the matriarch gives some tips on how to keep things alive. “Mix them up,” she said. “Try the role-play. You know, naughty nurse. Try different positions. Sixty-nine.
Wait a minute. Am I missing something? I grabbed my remote and rewound to the start of the show. How is it possible that this was the start? There had been no smooth introduction, no sweetness in getting to know the characters – just aerial shots of New York City (like any good reality series has) and a direct jump into the characters. hijinks, with very little explanation.
This narrative device used to pique interest certainly worked – I was addicted to watching My unorthodox life since its release on July 14. But I don’t necessarily watch it because I love it. I keep binging the series because I end each episode with more questions than I started, and I’m confident the next episode will answer those questions.
The show follows Julia – who left an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle in Monsey, New York to pursue a life of entrepreneurship and freedom – with her husband Silvio Scaglia Haart, daughter Miriam, and sons Shlomo and Aron. Miriam is a young woman exploring her sexuality who will surely receive a spin-off after My unorthodox life, Shlomo is a somewhat goofy guy who tries to put his dating profiles in order, and Aron still lives in Monsey with Julia’s ex-husband, where he leads a fundamentalist life. Elite World COO Robert Brotherton is also a central figure. He functions as the mischievous, flamboyant sidekick who may or may not have been chosen just for the show.
Each time the credits roll, I save a whole new list of questions prompted by the episode I just watched. Where does Julia buy her really huge wine glasses? (I mean, these things are huge. She goes to put her hand on the spout of the glass and it barely touches the entire rim.) Why is everyone wearing Christian Dior? How did Julia go from protected Jewish housewife to millionaire business mogul in just a few years? (I don’t doubt her business savvy. There are just a few holes in the timeline that I’m looking to fill.) Why does Miriam suddenly kiss the girl she’s dating at her mom’s business event? ?
Each episode of My unorthodox life full of events. There is so much going on. They’re having dinner, they’re at Julia’s e1972 fashion show, suddenly they’re in Paris at Fashion Week, now they’re in the Hamptons, now it’s Sukkot and they’re having dinner again. Each scene is a sensory overload of Emilie in Paris– an esque fashion, elaborate table decorations and giant glasses of Pinot Grigio.
Despite these visual clues, Julia still feels like a mystery. Of course, the show is all about Julia Haart, but what do you think really know for her? She loves sequined catsuits and high platform heels. She calls her husband Silvio “my love” exclusively. And she cares a lot about her children. However, Julia is stoic throughout the series, which seems counterintuitive – she spends her entire life on television, after all. But she holds her cards tight and maintains that armor that I still hope will be shattered in the next episode. Even through tears at Aron and her ex-husband’s house in Monsey, meetings with Lais Ribeiro at Elite’s offices and lunch with Silvio interrupted by a Louis Vuitton fitting, I still have questions about who is Julia Haart. (By the way, there are plenty of Reddit threads with theories about Julia’s life, all of which contain questionable veracity.)
i will keep watching My unorthodox life to see what happens next in this wacky fantasy on Netflix. In the meantime, requests keep coming and I continue to find out more.