Movie Review: Made For Each Other (2023)

When I was in university, I thought I would try writing a Harlequin Romance to make some extra money. The only problem with that idea was that I had never read one before. So I went to the bookstore, bought three of them and read them in a matter of days. I quickly discovered that they’re formulaic, they’re not very deep in plot and they’re not very taxing on the brain to read. I also realised that this was a genre that I wouldn’t be comfortable writing in even if it did pay the bills.

The Hallmark Channel’s romcoms are the cinematic equivalent of sanitized Harlequin Romances and I have spent my entire adult life avoiding them like the plague… until now. In an effort to show more diversity on screen, the channel has recently produced a number of stories starring people of colour, gays and Jews. I’m not aware of them doing any stories about Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists or Wiccans but maybe they have. It’s the Jewish stories that interest me though, as I’m curious to see how my people are being portrayed on screen.

The recent Hallmark Chanukah movie, the inaptly titled HANUKKAH ON RYE, was a shanda, a disgrace, with its stereotypical portrayal of the pushy Jewish mother and the misguided notion that every winter we all crowd around a giant outdoor menorah to sing our two Chanukah tunes much like the Peanuts gang singing carols around a tree in A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS. It’s not like the writers who, I must add, are Jewish themselves, have no Jewish role models to emulate. From Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW) to Miriam Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL), there has been no shortage of Jewish characters on TV, a topic that many others have written about over the years. So why do they get it so annoyingly wrong?

The folks at Hallmark seem to have done it again with their latest Jewish-themed entry, MADE FOR EACH OTHER. In this example of the company’s push for diversity, Rachel (Alexandra Turshen) is a young sculptor who teaches her craft at, I’ll guess and say, a community learning annex. She hasn’t had much luck finding her beshert, her soul mate, much to her mother, Judith’s (Teryl Rothery), frustration, so she creates the man of her dreams out of clay. One stormy evening, Rachel’s bestie, Doris (Illeana Douglas, SHE’S FUNNY THAT WAY), visits Rachel in her studio, sees the sculpture and tells her about the Jewish legend of the Golem — a clay sculpture that came to life and protected the Jews of Prague from their anti-Semitic neighbours. (What she fails to mention is that the Golem story is more tragedy than happy ending.) As luck would have it, Doris just happens to be carrying with her her grandmother’s amulet which, according to family legend, has great power. Doris gives Rachel the amulet, which she puts on the sculpture and, no surprise to the rest of us, the hunky figure comes to life. Clay (Aaron O’Connell) is perfect in every way and Rachel’s family are thrilled that she’s finally found the man of her dreams, and just in time for her sister’s wedding too. Less thrilled is Rachel’s future brother-in-law’s best friend, David Cohen (Matt Cohen), a lawyer turned standup comedian who is quickly developing a crush on Rachel.

Oy vey. MADE FOR EACH OTHER is so awful that it makes HANUKKAH ON RYE seem like CITIZEN KANE by comparison. It is so loathsome that I kept having to pick my jaw up off the floor as I was watching it. From the completely implausible situation — leaving aside that Clay is, well, made of clay, why isn’t the family the least bit concerned that Rachel is all over a man whom she allegedly just met the day before? — to the mangling of the Yiddish words — it’s pronounced “rug-uh-lach”, not “roo-ga-la” — MADE FOR EACH OTHER is an insult to my people. I’m all for diversity on screen but not this chazerai (junk). Hallmark really needs to up its game, at least as far as presenting Jews on screen is concerned.

MADE FOR EACH OTHER is streaming now on the Hallmark Channel. Hate watch it if you may. My bubbe (grandmother), if she’d still be alive to watch it, would not be impressed.

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