This is cross-posted at JWA’s Jewesses with Attitude!
The show that is characterizing the American high school experience is no longer Beverly Hills 90210. It is not One Tree Hill, The OC, Dawson’s Creek, or any other television series that is comprised of a homogeneous group of blonde, white, and religiously hush-hush teenagers whose differences are minimized for the sake of a cohesive social hierarchy.
No – what is representing my generation’s high school experience is Glee, the show that gives the misfits a voice and a small Ohio suburb a plethora of cultures. And yes, even Judaism is included in this model society that tries to assimilate even those who do not fit neatly into the niches provided.
There are two Jews in William McKinley High School’s glee club: Puck and Rachel, who Leah Berkenwald discussed in this earlier blog post. We know Rachel is Jewish from the first episode. She has two dads, had a Bat Mitzvah, perpetually compares herself to Barbara Streisand, and looks like the total Ashkenazi-American stereotype (pale, brunette, preppy). As for Puck, we do not know of his Jewishness until he and his family are sitting down to a TV Rosh Hashana dinner, watching Schindler’s List. During this Holocaust horror, Puck has a revelation – he must fall in love with (or, in a high school lexicon, hook up with) a Jewish girl. And this is Ohio so he only has one feasible option: Rachel.