The web-series Soon by You takes a familiar sitcom premise—a group of six unmarried friends in their twenties living in a big city—and gives it a new twist: the friends are Modern Orthodox Jews living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. As the title—a formulaic blessing that translates into standard English as “I hope you get married soon”—implies, courtship is the series’ primary concern. In her review, Sarah Rindner compares Soon by You with the Israeli show, Srugim, that inspired it:
Srugim . . . was not merely a series about a particular form of courtship; it dug into the spiritual and emotional lives of its characters. Soon by You occasionally attempts this, as when it depicts a Friday-night dinner in all of its minute ritual and social detail, or dramatizes [one character’s] quandary over leaving an important meeting at the law firm at which he’s interning in time for Shabbat. Ultimately, however, the show features very little of Jewish intellectual substance. Although [another character] is seen holding a volume of the Talmud at one point, his rabbinical studies are mainly used to emphasize his personal sensitivity.
On the one hand, it is understandable that the creators of Soon by You would want to make the show as accessible as possible, even at the expense of a more nuanced exploration of the world it depicts (the first episode has had almost 100,000 views). On the other hand, maybe American Jewish religious life just isn’t as culturally thick and unique as its Israeli counterpart, even in the New York Modern Orthodox world. One would hate to think, though, that this is the case. In the future it would be nice to see [the show’s creator], Leah Gottfried, and her team move the series into deeper, more particular territory, without, of course, losing the laughs. . . .
Modern Orthodox courtship itself may be endangered in a broader society where the “marriage plot” makes less and less sense. Awkward for most, and painful for some, it seems clear that traditional courtship is out of place in the modern world of which Modern Orthodoxy, by definition, aspires to be a part. Yet the alternative, a situation where boundaries are relaxed beyond recognition and no one is urging for marriage to happen “soon by you” is at least as problematic.