When it comes to reality TV dating shows, Jews haven’t had a whole lot of representation. Sure, once in a while there’s a token Jewish contestant on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette — and we can’t forget Jewish leads Andi Dorfman and Jason Mesnick — but their Jewishness was barely ever a topic of conversation.
So it is with great pleasure that I can announce the Jewish reality dating show you’ve been yearning for is finally here, and boy is it something. Hosted by self-proclaimed “New York City wing-woman” Erin Davis, and available for streaming on Jewish Life TV (why no, I didn’t know that existed until this week either), Bubbies Know Best centers on a panel of three bubbies who attempt to match a single Jewess with a compatible Nice Jewish Boy.
Though they may look the part, bubbies Linda Rich, Bunny Gibson, and S.J. Mendelson are not your average Jewish grandmothers — unless your grandma will happily ride on the back of a single NJB’s motorcycle.
Rich, bubbe to seven grandchildren, is a trailblazer. She was the first female cantor to sing at a Conservative synagogue, and she has the attitude of a bad bitch (she literally calls one of her co-hosts a betch, which might be the highlight of the first episode). Gibson, a former dancer on American Bandstand, has four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, so she’s kind of the ultimate bubbe. Interestingly, she didn’t find out she was Jewish until a DNA test revealed her Ashkenazi roots later in life.
“I was adopted and it turned out this Catholic school girl is a member of the tribe,” she told The Algemeiner. “When I was younger, I used to always love bagels, so maybe that was a sign.” (If that were the case, then everyone’s Jewish, right?)
Mendelson, the third co-host, says her knack for matchmaking comes from her bubbe. “My grandmother Gitel, in the old days, would match anybody, even if they had a clubbed foot,” she said. “She would say ‘there’s a cover for every garbage can.'” And that, folks, reminds me that love is real.
In the first episode, which aired on February 11, the power trio meet 20-something UCLA graduate Sionne. Sitting in three armchairs in a room that looks like the inside of a synagogue, the three judges introduce themselves to the very boring Sionne (sorry, Sionne). The conversation is pretty awkward because, like I said, Sionne is boring. But, the bubbies successfully gather the characteristics she’s looking for in a man: ambitious, fun, tall, dark, and handsome (how surprising!).
Sionne is matched with a man who rides a motorcycle — Gibson found this especially sexy, and even went for a joyride — and when the bachelorette returns from her date with her date, the judges reveal what they think about the pair’s chemistry. Seeing as Sionne and the nice Jewish boy only met once, the conclusion was pretty anti-climactic. All parties decide that they need to spend more time together before making a final decision. I mean, duh.
Rich, Gibson, and Mendelson’s chutzpah and sass is the only reason to watch this show, because so far, every other aspect is a drag. The most exciting part of Sionne’s date was when she asked the guy what he would do with $100,00, to which he did not have an answer. Riveting stuff!
Despite everything I just said, I’m looking forward to dissecting future episodes of this low-budget Jewish dating show, but I’m mostly in it for the badass bubbies.