July 9, 2019
For those of us who have been mourning for Walter White—and the entire Breaking Bad ensemble—since the series went off the air in 2013 (has it been six years already?), Netflix is now filling the gaping void in our viewing schedules with an imported knockoff series.
Excited? You should be.
The French series, which debuted in late June, is called Family Business—and it’s about a down-on-his-luck Jewish entrepreneur , Joseph Hazan, and his family; who race to turn their kosher butcher shop into a marijuana café after they learn the drug is going to be legalized.
Boasting a solid 7.3 score on IMDB, the series has wide appeal likely in large part to how it mixes race and family relations with fart jokes and surrealist scenes. (One features the Hazans narrowly avoiding arrest by telling police that the weed-stuffed dead pig in their kosher meat truck has been genetically engineered to receive rabbinical approval.)
In one scene, in which the Hazans find themselves serving food to an entire police precinct inside their illegal growth lab, the family dishes out typically Eastern European foods alongside North African mloukhiya stew.
In another, Joseph’s father, Gerard, asks his mother-in-law to cook kishke— or as he calls it “that awful stink of a dish —to camouflage the scent of budding marijuana plants from the cops working next door.
The family’s trademark product—the parallel of Walter White’s blue ice in AMC’s Breaking Bad—is called “pastraweed,” a mashup of pastrami and weed.
Yiddish phrases like “bubbeleh” pepper the dialogue, along with North African Jewish slang like “ya rab” and “miskin.”
Between the lines, the show’s creator, Igor Gotesman, also used the family biography to build a sort of microcosm of French Jewry—from the liberal elements represented in Joseph’s lesbian sister, Aure, to the conservative ones, represented by Gerard.
For those who are looking for a kooky, summer crime caper, this could be for you. One drawback: If you don’t speak French, you’ll be reading lots of captions.
Research contact: @Haaretz