The Russian poet Joseph Brodsky once said that prison is a lack of space counterbalanced by a surplus of time. Our current lockdown can't be compared to being locked up, but with so much surplus time on our hands, many of us are eager for stories that will help us escape endless thoughts of COVID-19. Here are three that did that for me:
This desire for escape underlies the appeal of Unorthodox, the four-part Netflix series that has viewers whooshing through it in a single night. Loosely based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman, it stars Israeli actor Shira Haas as 19-year-old Esther "Esty" Shapiro, a woman who flees her marriage and her tight Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Esty jets off to Berlin, where a group of music students take her under their wing. Meanwhile, she's pursued by her husband, Yanky (Amit Rahav), and his cousin Moishe (Jeff Wilbusch), who's something of a thug.
Unorthodox is an uncommonly seductive show because, for both good and ill, it feels like pure Hollywood. On the bad side, it ignores or fudges every hard question about Esty's motivations or religious practice; and its swooning portrait of attractive, multicultural Berlin—director Maria Schrader is German—could have been commissioned by that city's tourist board. Yet, like a good Hollywood movie, Unorthodox moves along so briskly, boasts such terrific acting and offers enough surprises that you sink easily into its upbeat tale of a woman who escapes into a glorious new future.