Alex Hall Brings Shabbat Dinner to Netflix’s ‘Selling the OC’

Co-star Tyler Stanaland said he was getting the full Jewish immersion experience.

Season three of “Selling the OC” hit Netflix this May, featuring its usual cast of fashionable realtors and high-end Orange County properties. The reality series continues to serve viewers drama and luxury, with the Oppenheim Group dominating the O.C. real estate market. The season follows business disputes, new realtors and controversial relationships, as well as the cast’s personal lives.

The show has taken on cast members’ religion before, highlighting the bond between realtors Alexandra “Ali” Harper and Alexandra “Jarvis” Jarvis, due to their shared love of Jesus. The conservative Christian identity of these cast members came as no surprise to viewers, given the conservative nature of Orange County, California. But this season, the series highlighted a more diverse range of religious and cultural expression.

In episode seven of season three, Alex Hall hosts a Shabbat dinner for friends and family. Hall isn’t secretive about her Jewish identity: her Instagram bio features a purple Star of David and her Fourth of July post from 2022 is captioned “Red white and Jew.” Even so, this is the first time her Jewishness is substantially discussed on “Selling the OC.”

Screenshot via Netflix

The Shabbat dinner was a shining moment of representation, amidst a largely WASP-y cast. In usual Jewish fashion, the dinner features Hall’s bubbe grilling her about her romantic relationships and taking complete control of the challah baking. Cast members Gio, Tyler, Austin and Polly attend, greeting Hall’s family with “Shabbat Shalom!” and donning kippot for the night. One of Hall’s sisters even jokes that they will circumcise Gio, when he reveals that it’s his first Shabbat dinner.

But jokes aside, “Selling the OC” approaches the dinner with unusual conscientiousness. Taking note of its largely non-Jewish cast and viewership, the show takes care to explain the holiday and its importance. In one scene, Hall explains that the meaning of the yarmulke is to “remind you that God is always above you.” In another, she details what Shabbat is — “the Jewish day of rest” — and that an invite to a Shabbat dinner is an “honor.” At dinner, the episode even features a prayer over the wine and bread.

As cast member Tyler explains: “I’m getting the full Jewish immersion experience.”

It’s a rare, non-controversial moment on the show for Alex. The highly-contentious central cast member has garnered controversy after a season two conversation consisting of microaggressions against co-star Brandi Marshall. Alex Hall has received immense amounts of criticism from fans, also gaining attention for her controversial relationship with co-star Tyler Stanaland, after his recent divorce from actress Brittany Snow. Hall has also alluded to voting for Donald Trump on an Instagram story, attracting some dissatisfaction and deviating from the largely liberal Jewish-American public.

But love or hate her, Hall seems to be the only Jewish representation on the show. And, in a California county notorious for its Nazi activity, it is a huge deal to see Jewish representation like this. It is incredibly meaningful to see modern, real-world Jewish practices and joyous occasions on streaming services and in reality TV. This is particularly true for O.C.ers; many of whom, like the “Selling the OC” realtors, have personally experienced little Jewish culture in their lifetimes.

In general, reality TV has historically struggled with properly representing modern Jews, and luxury reality TV almost never gets it right. Shows like “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” have come under fire for portraying the Jewish experience in glitz-and-glam, instead of real culture and practice. It is no secret that featuring Jews alongside multi-million dollar properties could have gone very awry. But, “Selling the OC” somehow managed to hit it out of the park! Shabbat Shalom!

Victoria Dozer

Victoria Dozer (she/her) is a junior at Wesleyan University studying Astronomy and Physics, as well as Jewish Studies. She’s originally from California, but is loving her time on the East Coast as a student! Victoria also loves to write, hike and spend time at CA’s beautiful beaches!

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