I know that I’m writing long after the release of the latest installment of Soon by You, but my family was graced with a new baby girl just when it came out and haven’t had a moment free since then. Now that things have (relatively) calmed down, I checked it out and was again treated to another episode with their trademark talented comedic acting, professional directing and filming, and humorous sub-plots. The best part, of course, was the unexpected plot twist in the budding—or more accurately germinating—relationship between David and Sarah Feldman, turning their highly-anticipated first date into a disaster. This marked a new direction for Soon by You by drawing its viewers into a deeper emotional connection to these characters and their plight. The actors showed their range by accurately depicting their character's emotions in different situations than we’ve seen before, and the producers and writers proved how much they really know about the art of television.
The real loser this time was David, the romantic hero everyone was rooting for who probably lost all his fans with his poor behavior in this episode. He balked at the first real test to his relationship with Sarah’s smooth sail into the sunset and reverted into high-gear “guy” mode, sticking his foot into his mouth deeper and deeper as their first date went on. His first faux pas was when he delivered a backhanded insult by reminding Sarah that she “changed her mind” from not being shomer negiah. I would expect a rabbinical student to be of higher moral caliber than to resort to ona’as devarim, but then again, he’s only a student and obviously has a lot to learn.
What sealed his fate was how he reacted to Sarah’s revelation that she intended to make aliyah, an admittedly major issue that could easily spoil the development of any relationship. Were they dating to simply discover more about each other in order to decide whether to get married and build on what they found out, David might have simply taken the news as a facet of her being to be considered in his decision. He might have considered making a change in his life plans to continue building on the relationship, or just as easily realized that remaining in New York was more important than him, however much he “liked” her, and walked away with a certain amount of heartbreak but with grace. Unfortunately he couldn’t, the whole history of their “made in heaven” relationship clouding his better judgment. He revealed this when, at the end of the episode, he verbalized his enigma at the downturn of their relationship by saying, “but I found you!” His belief in the certainty of their romantic ending made it untenable in his mind that there would be a different outcome to his expectations, and therefore he used his “guy” logic to repeatedly try and get her to admit that they still had a chance.
This is, unfortunately, the folly of romance. Instead of being able to approach the decision whether to continue developing a relationship with a sound, unfettered mind, romance interferes by convincing one that circumstantial factors have what to say about the veracity of the match. Everything that happened to David and Sarah essentially has nothing to contribute to their future if they disagree about as fundamental issue as which side of the world to live on. But the romantic mind cannot move beyond this real issue, and so even as sweet a guy as David, who took the time to study Sarah’s blog, can miss how bad he was treating her when the real Sarah clashed with his fantasy image of her.
The final scene was the real disappointment, though, when David realized that the downturn of their evening might be the end of their relationship and he desperately tried to assure himself that all wasn’t lost. Poor Sarah’s anguish was written all over her face (a testament to Ms. Scur’s acting), and yet David didn’t let up until she gave him some glimmer of hope. But instead of reflecting on his mistakes and perhaps calling a few days later with regret and an apology, he immediately called someone (probably Z) to plan a harebrained scheme to crash her cousin’s wedding and undoubtedly try and win back her heart.
While Soon by You obviously has to end with a cliffhanger to keep its viewers excited enough to tune into the next episode, one must nonetheless shake one’s head at David’s complete lack of respect for Sarah’s feelings. If he genuinely cared for her, he would grant her the few days she requested and return with an honesty and a willingness to admit his mistake and see where they would go from there: either walking away with the realization that they have an irresolvable difference, or deciding together how to proceed with their situation. Surprising Sarah at a family event only works in Guy Land, where guys believe that women more appreciate being swooned by a great romantic act than their feelings being respected and considered. I’m therefore interested in what the writers will do with Sarah in the next episode: will they make her fall for David’s machinations, or will they stand up for women everywhere and not let another guy override the crucial foundation of any real relationship: appreciation of the other’s feelings.
To their credit, I will say that Soon by You has accurately portrayed an all-too-common situation that frequently occurs within the community that they profess to depict. It’s an unfortunate consequence of the inevitable conflict between romantic dating and the categorically unromantic decision to get married. Although marriage appears to be the enhancement of the romantic relationship by taking it to a higher plateau, it has no essential bearing on the emotional intimacy between the couple and only serves to give the couple a social and public status, something that by definition is therefore not at all romantic or intimate. This is most devastating to Orthodox Jews who view marriage not merely as a personal choice but as an integral facet of their social and religious future. So I thank Soon by You for choosing to take their characters this route and for bringing a real issue to light.
For the first time ever, I'm getting up and speaking publicly about Outdated and about...well, me! I'm still over in Israel, but maybe with enough begging (read: dough in the pocket) I'll come soon to a theater near you, if you catch my drift.
Special sale on talks before Pesach! Contact me through the Contact page and we'll set a day! Hooray!
I’d like to say how incredible it is to be a part of the “Soon by You” phenomenon, however limited my involvement may be. Ever since I learned about their endeavors I wanted to somehow contribute, because I feel that they’re making a big step in the development of modern Orthodox Jewish identity. Let me explain.
I was relatively young when I decided to make Judaism an active part of my life, taking on observances that my peers in public school were certainly nowhere near even understanding. My dedication to Shabbos, kashrus, shomer negiah, and tefilah separated me from everyone I knew, but the de factopeer pressure to live a life devoid of any connection to Hashem and His mitzvos never shook my resolve to my personal undertaking. Still, it’s lonely being a rogue, and I felt a yearning to mingle with Jews like me who also wore kippas and held off their hunger until finding strictly kosher food to eat. I initially gravitated towards boys in yeshiva, and while they were friendly, I felt that I was too distant from them, having too little background to be considered one of them. I therefore associated with the modern Orthodox, who shared my dedication to a halachic life but also dressed as I did, knew the media I did, and were receptive to my situation.
I have no doubt that there are hundreds of such Jews out there like myself who are trying to walk the delicate tightrope of modern Orthodoxy in the modern world. Whether they find themselves integrated within communities of like-minded compatriots or struggle to identify with their surroundings, the many influences out there—both from the Jewish world and the greater world for that matter—constantly present them with deep questions of how to approach fundamental issues. This can be a challenging existence, especially one prone to feelings of loneliness and frustration.
This is where “Soon by You” jumps in and saves the day. Despite the gamut of strong emotions that this oftentimes conflicted lifestyle entails, “Soon by You” tries (and often succeeds) at taking a lighter stance on the dichotomy. With the focus on the ubiquitous issues of dating and marriage, they give like-minded modern Orthodox individuals relatable characters to laugh and cry with, which is essential when today’s entertainment media is filled with personalities and situations that have no relevance to Jews struggling to balance modernity with tradition. When the option for opting out of remaining steadfast to G-d and His Torah is available and more appealing as life’s struggles pile up, “Soon by You” gives a face to committed Jews and shows that they’re still out there, and that life isn’t always that tough.
In a sense, this is what I attempted to portray in my novel Outdated, modeling Joe and Sharon after what I and friends of mine were experiencing trying to juggle Judaism with our lives. I’m very much hoping to tackle more of these issues in subsequent books (if I ever get the time!), but I’m glad that “Soon by You” has already brought the battles of many of us into the limelight.
If you haven't seen it yet go check out the third episode of soon by you! Soon by you is giving away our novel outdated for a limited time period!!!
Outdated on "Soon by You"
In addition to writing, I spend about a third of my hours awake learning Torah. In the other thirds, I edit for a book publishing company, imbue valuable life lessons to my adolescent children while attempting to mitigate their bickering, prepare our house for the arrival of the Shabbos Queen (this is a week-long endeavor), and try out new chulent recipes. Oh, I also drum on anything that makes a sound when banged.