Print | Email Jewish mums on the small screen

Jewish Mum of the Year review

by: Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2012-10-09

Jewish Mum of the Year

Jewish Mum of the Year


TV showcases Jewish mums

You'd be forgiven for thinking that it's Jewish TV month on Channel 4 at the moment.

No sooner has the sitcom Friday Night Dinner returned for a second series (only on Sundays rather than Friday nights this time) than we have Jewish Mum Of The Year, in which eight women from communities across the country are competing for the chance to be crowned top Jewish mum (winning themselves an agony aunt column in a free Jewish newspaper for their troubles).

It's no easy task though, as they have to prove themselves in a series of challenges, Apprentice style, and avoid being 'fired' from the contest by judges Dovid Katz and Tracy-Ann Oberman.

Thus the scene was set for car crash television in the extreme as the mums - set the task of providing the food, cake and entertainment at a Barmitzvah - bickered, dithered over menus, served up cold soup and dodgy looking cake that shocked even celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal and offered guests something called 'Israeli trousers' as parting gifts (and no, we don't know what they are either but they look a little bit like party pyjamas).

To the show's credit, it did attempt to show a cross-section of Jewish mothers, from Edgware mum of six Jacqueline and feisty Essex redhead Maxine through to Irish lady Lesley, whose own ideas of modern Jewish motherhood were very different from her London counterparts (although disappointingly, she was first to get her marching orders following a cake mix debacle). That said, the show left very few reality TV cliches unturned in its quest to show off the world of the Jewish mother, the result being that it skirted the boundaries of stereotype a little too often for its own good.

That said, there was something oddly compelling about watching non-Orthodox, modern Emma and the more traditional Ruth - clearly polar opposites- singularly failing to get on and arguing their way through the episode (and who wouldn't love to see them facing Alan Sugar in the boardroom?), while the moment when the cake made its awkward debut was a fabulously cringe-inducing moment. While we can't say we'd particularly like to have any of these women as our mother, we'll no doubt be glued to next week's instalment - even if we do end up watching it through our fingers.

Jewish Mum of the Year: Channel 4 9pm Tuesday