Reality Schtick: Jewish Matchmaking Cast — Season 1

Jewish Matchmaking

Everyone and their mother has told me that Jewish Matchmaking is on Netflix — some have even told me to go on the show myself. But little did they know that I already binged the entire thing within days for two reasons: One, to share with y’all what I thought after expressing my concern last year and two, because I was very, very curious.

And I have to say, what a mess.

As far as dating reality shows go, Jewish Matchmaking is honestly not as chaotic and toxic as others you’ll find on Netflix. Love is Blind Season Season 4 felt like a bunch of actors fighting for the spotlight by having as much love triangles as humanly possible. Jewish Matchmaking felt a lot more plausible, with a cast of participants that were not looking for stardom and were truly hoping to find marriage and share their culture.

For the most part.

While the hopefuls on Jewish Matchmaking seemed overall authentic, I still felt like I was watching a spectacle. The Orthodox tradition of hiring a Shidduch is a pretty serious matter, with Jewish people looking to find someone they’ll end up marrying within a few months time after meeting them.

Of course, nobody wants to watch a bunch of conservative people awkwardly avoid touching for a few months as they discuss children and religion. This is a reality show. But Jewish Matchmaking felt so far removed from this process, with participants that wouldn’t normally utilize this kind of service and matchups that didn’t really make a lot of sense in some cases.

Fay and Shaya had the most potential, two pretty traditional young Jewish people that were serious about religion and their culture. But Shaya was too much of a “bad boy” for Fay in the end — his unwillingness to pray three times a day didn’t sit well with her Orthodox beliefs. It’s unfortunate because he was very cute and funny, but it goes to show you that you can’t force chemistry (or beliefs).

The Problem With Ori Basley

Everyone else on the show didn’t feel like people who would need this traditional service. Most were just in their 30s, living their lives in large cities, and had never really utilized a Shidduch before. I’m sure they saw Netflix’s casting call for the show and figured it would be an interesting way to find a potential partner.

For example, what the heck is Ori Basley doing on this show? And why did the matchmaker, Aleeza Ben Shalom, even set women up with him? This really made me question the validity of the show.

So Ori is a semi-good looking guy who works in the wedding industry alongside his mother — who he also lives with. When asked what kind of woman the 30-year-old is looking for he seemed pretty open. But that’s because he didn’t care about the woman or her personality at all — he only wanted to be set up with a blonde-haired and blue-eyed woman.

While Shalom definitely questioned his fixation on these rare features, she ultimately set him up with a beautiful actress from Israel who was well beyond his attraction level and maturity level. The poor woman went on a date with Ori just to be told she is “simple” in a condescending way. But the guy didn’t even care — he told the camera that it would have worked out better if she had blue eyes and a larger chest.

And for some reason Shalom set him up with another woman — one with blue eyes. But why would Shalom set this guy up with these poor woman when it’s clear that he is not taking the process seriously at all? She even had to tell him to care about what the woman was saying, which “opened his eyes.” Excuse me? This shouldn’t be news to someone who wants to get married within a few months.

Meanwhile, another woman was demanding she find someone with big eyebrows like her. And another woman was being set up on dates with much older and far less attractive men than her. The matches just all made no sense and I didn’t detect any sort of chemistry or excitement. The inauthentic pair-ups and forced interactions just didn’t make for good television and didn’t represent the actual art of Jewish matchmaking for me.

Seeing a bubbly mid-30s woman with perfectly done hair and makeup — and a home full of plushies — being set up with awkward and disheveled older men just blew my mind. Even if Shalom truly felt these were matches made in heaven, I truly did not want to see this woman’s positive and excited personality be zapped by these dull divorcees. Hearing Shalom say that Harmonie needed a stable man to essentially bring her back to reality (she wanted a family and to travel — something Shalom didn’t feel was possible), was a real bummer for me.

So Was Jewish Matchmaking Cursed After All?

Last year, I predicted that Jewish Matchmaking could end up being “cursed” in the sense that it would shine a light on the negative stereotypes in Jewish culture in an attempt to entertain the general public. Luckily, I didn’t see much of this. Most of the participants were varied in race, personality, culture, and religion.

There were a few questionable moments — like Ori saying that the woman better have money as he continued to live with his mommy — but overall I felt that the colorful cast of people represented the truly diverse Jewish population.

But I still found Jewish Matchmaking to be an underwhelming and frustrating experience. The matches didn’t feel authentic or carefully curated. There were never any moments of true chemistry, with even Shalom telling people to “date until they hate” each other. Most of the women were set up with men that were just leagues below them. I never felt like I was rooting for anyone — in fact, I could barely remember names.

For me, Jewish Matchmaking was just a blip in my Netflix binge that week. It sadly didn’t have the impact that I’d hoped for. I still think it’s worth watching if you’re bored and want to see some heartwarming family dynamics. But don’t expect to see anything genuinely exciting — whether you want true love or major drama.