I was watching In Her Shoes on TV last night, and during a commercial break I idly wondered aloud to my girlfriend why so many romcoms* have predominantly Jewish characters. I mean, you can almost tell from the start what characters are going to be present - there’ll be an annoyingly overbearing Jewish mother, a comedy Jewish grandmother, a geeky but oh-so-sweet Jewish lawyer or doctor with glasses, etc etc.
I realise that the film in question is an adaptation of a book by a Jewish writer, which explains it in this case, but the question remains - why are romantic comedies so inordinately Jewish?
*OK, In Her Shoes is not exactly a romcom as such, but you get the point.
Maybe it’s just because I don’t watch many romantic comedies, but I’ve never seen it as an inordinate amount. My guess is that these are very recognizable character types, maybe because there’s a strong Jewish presence in the entertainment industry.
Yes, absolutely. And it is overwhelmingly a Jewish male presence. This is why the male lead is Jewish much more often than the female. And if she is Jewish she’s usually not supposed to be the object of desire.
I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed such a thing, and going through my memory, I can’t say that I can think of any romantic comedies with Jewish characters.
Sleepless in Seattle - No
You’ve Got Mail - No
Groundhog Day - No
Michael - No
Shakespeare in Love - No
My Big Fat Greek Wedding - I don’t believe the guy was (but maybe)
Pretty Woman - No
There’s Something about Mary - Yeah, probably. But Ben Stiller is Jewish so…
As Good as it Gets - No
Coming to America - No
Maid in Manhattan - No
Shallow Hal - No
Splash - No
Nine Months - No
Kissing Jessica Stein? Of course, “Jewish” wasn’t the dominant feature of that one.
A Rabbi plays a major role in Keeping the Faith, but I’d hesitate to call it Jewish.
I’ve seen the kinds of stock characters the OP has mentioned in plenty of movies, but most of them weren’t romantic comedies. They were all comedies though; you don’t put a stereotypical Jewish mother or the nerdy Jewish goofball in a horror movie. Although that’d be entertaining.
I was trying to think of the name of this movie with Cameron Diaz, and then I realized it’s the one mentioned in the OP. :smack: Sex and the City had a similar romance late in the show, but again… not a predominantly Jewish show at all.
I suppose Woody Allen has to be mentioned in this thread, as he’s earned his own entry in the dictionary of neurotic Jewish and New Yorker characters even if it’s hard to call his movies romantic comedies, and he’s not one of the types mentioned in the OP.
Well, start with the fact that a HUGE percentage of comedians are Jewish. This is not a recent development, either.
Now, when a Jewish comedian attempts a movie career, what kind of roles is he going to get? Action/adventure roles? Sci-fi roles? No, I’m guessing he’s going to try making a comedy. And if he’s not interested in puerile humor, that pretty much leaves romantic comedies.
So, while I wouldn’t say that most romantic comedies have Jewish male leads, I WOULD say that Jewish comedians who try to break into movies are usually going to gravitate toward the romantic comedy genre.
Looking at a Wikipedia list of Jewish actors, here’s some of the names: Rosanna Arquette, Selma Blair, Jennifer Beals, Amanda Bynes, Neve Campbell, Helena Bonham Carter, Jennifer Connelly, Isla Fisher, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Alyson Hannigan, Kate Hudson, Helen Hunt, Scarlett Johansson, Lisa Kudrow, Julianna Margulies, Marlee Matlin, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amanda Peet, Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder, Adrienne Shelly, Alicia Silverstone, Leelee Sobieski, Mare Winningham, and Evan Rachel Wood.