Which TV Bar/Bat Mitzvah Would Be the Most Fun to Actually Attend?

We're ranking the bashes based on food, music, theme, decor and, of course, adolescent awkwardness.

TV bar and bat mitzvahs give us a lot of feelings. There’s the wave of nostalgia — at times joyous; at others, the cringe of remembering your adolescence. There’s the warmth of seeing Jewish culture and ritual play on our screens, and the pain of it being the butt of the jokes or a showcase of gross excess. Over the course of this website’s existence, there have been a number of thoughtful, nuanced and unique perspectives on the b’nai mitzvah episode, which you should definitely read.

Today though, I’m throwing all of that out the window and focusing on what truly matters: throwing a memorable party. I’m ranking TV bar and bat mitzvah celebrations based purely on how fun I think it would be to be a guest. Of course, I’m assessing the basic party essentials like food, music, theme and décor, but because these parties are often fraught with adolescent awkwardness, behind-the-scenes (or in-front-of-the-scenes) drama and existential dread, I’m including that in the assessment too, along with bonus points for those little intangibles.

Without further ado, from least fun to most, my ranking of TV bar/bat mitzvah parties:

Jessi’s Bat Mitzvah 

“Big Mouth”

Food: Seared scallops as a passed app? Good idea (if not the most kosher option). Anthropomorphic cartoon scallops begging to be eaten out of a dumpster? Bad idea. 1.5/5

Music Selection: As the evening’s unpaid DJ, Coach Steve plays all the wrong music, makes a bevy of uncomfortable Holocaust references, possibly kills an elderly guest and exacerbates tension between Jessi’s warring parents. 0/5.

Theme & Décor: Great women in her-story is actually a great bat mitzvah theme; it just gets overshadowed by the rest of the hot mess express of this party. 3.5/5

Drama: There’s vomiting in the photo booth, dumpster scallops, a DJ making Holocaust references, the bat mitzvah girl finding out her mom and synagogue cantor are having an affair and Jessi’s parents fighting on the mic during their speech. Oh yeah, and a guy died during the party. Even if you’re into cringe humor, it’s… not great. 1/5

Bonus Points: This is a rough one to watch, but “Life is a Fucked Up Mess,” the “Electric Slide”-inspired musical number at the conclusion, feels like a welcome release. 4/5

Total Score: 10 

Sammie’s Bat Mitzvah

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” 

Food: We don’t see much of the food, but we know there’s coffee, wine and a frosting-laden sheet cake that looks pretty dang good. 2.5/5

Music Selection: John Legend, bat mitzvah band leader?! John Legend, bat mitzvah band leader! 5/5

Theme & Décor: A cacophony of blush and floral centerpieces. It looks like how department store bathroom potpourri smells. 2/5 

Drama: Imagine you are a guest at this bat mitzvah, and you’re sitting at your table, scoping out possible Coke and Pepsi partners, and this weird family friend gets on the mic, implies the guest of honor was a weird-looking newborn and goes off on a rant about rumors involving him and a gerbil. What would you even do with that? Do you process it during the carpool home? Does it haunt you in your quietest moments? 3/5

Total Score: 12.5

Paul’s Bar Mitzvah

“The Wonder Years” (1988)

Food: Looks like a classic post-Shabbat oneg spread. No complaints. 3/5

Music Selection: The episode closes with a spirited hora, but the polka-klezmer cover of “Yummy Yummy” is straight-up creepy. 2/5

Theme & Décor: Nothing terribly memorable. 1/5

Drama: Most of the drama occurs before the ceremony itself, with a conflict between friends over Paul’s big day falling on protagonist Kevin Arnold’s birthday. The actual day is typical “Wonder Years” wholesomeness. 4/5

Bonus Points: A beautiful example of representation of Jewish culture and ritual, family and friendship, at a time when this was much less common on TV, and the misty use of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Old Friends (Bookends)” will make you weep. 4/5

Total Score: 14

Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah


Food: “Entourage” is a show about flash and excess, and this menu is no different — a sushi table, kosher vegetarian dinner options and prime rib for the adults; a sumptuous kids buffet with hot dogs, tendies and mac and cheese for the kids (and Turtle and Drama). Oh, and a make-your-own sundae bar. 5/5

Music Selection: West Coast hip-hop pioneer DJ Quik makes a cameo as himself. 5/5

Theme & Décor: I expected an Ari Gold-organized affair to be a bit more garish, but the yellow and white balloons and elegant floral arrangements are as pleasant as the main characters of this show are obnoxious. 3.5/5

Drama: Drama is, literally, there, and at his most eyeroll-inducing. He and Turtle get too stoned and annoy and harass their server until she takes them to the kids buffet. 1/5

Total Score: 14.5 

Ryan’s Chrismukkah Bar-Mitzvakkah

“The O.C.”

Food: We never see any food being served, but we know there’s at least an open bar. 2/5  

Music Selection: The Chrismukkah episodes of “The O.C.” were historically full of festive bangers (shout-out to Ben Kweller’s cover of “Rock of Ages”), but the actual party is a bit bereft of them. At one point, we hear a string quartet performing “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel,” and in a lovely conclusion, Seth Cohen finally gets his dance to “That’s What Friends Are For.” 2/5  

Theme & Décor: The country club where the Cohens host the party is decorated in tasteful, elegant holiday cheer, with festive lights and tinsel and two massive, lit menorahs flanking the stage behind the podium. 4/5

Drama: The juxtaposition at the climax of this episode is jarring — on the day he becomes a man, Ryan Atwood thwarts the bar mitzvah party’s beneficiary from robbing a convenience store to pay for his much-needed knee surgery. Complementing this look into the extreme wealth disparities in and around Orange County is the comic relief of Seth Cohen stalling guests by recruiting Marissa and Summer to reenact the story of Hanukkah. 3/5  

Bonus Points: Seth Cohen finally gets to celebrate a bar mitzvah with his friends, and the gang puts the party together to help pay for their friend Johnny’s surgery. The American healthcare system may be a horrible capitalist nightmare, but friends, family and Chrismukkah are certainly things to celebrate. 4/5  

Total score: 15

Krusty’s Bar Mitzvah 

“The Simpsons”

Food: Krusty introduces the world’s largest potato pancake — the real question is was it served with vats of applesauce or sour cream? 3/5

Music Selection: A Beach Boys cover band performs a catchy if eye-roll-inducing Jewish-themed version of “Kokomo” (“Mezuzah, menorah, readin’ from the Torah…”), but the cast of “The Lion King” is a pretty exciting addition. 3.5/5

Theme & Décor: As over the top as a stadium bar mitzvah could get, culminating in Mr. T being strapped to a spinning menorah, complete with pyrotechnics. 4/5

Drama: Krusty’s stadium bar mitzvah is a blast for the cheering fans (some even tossing a beach ball around) and leaves the bar mitzvah boy caught between the pull of family and tradition and his desire for spectacle. In the end, he opts for an intimate, traditional bar mitzvah with his rabbi father proudly standing at his side. So wholesome! 4/5

Bonus Points: If the puns in this episode (e.g. Mr. T declaring, “I pity the shul who won’t let Krusty in now”) caused you physical pain, you may be entitled to compensation. 1/5

Total Score: 15.5

Harold’s Bar Mitzvah

“Hey Arnold!”

Food: Is there anything more appetizing than a sumptuous, overflowing cartoon dessert and punch table? 4/5  

Music Selection: We love a jaunty klezmer band and a party that closes with a hora. 3.5/5  

Theme & Décor: Harold has a pretty traditional city-kid mitzvah and reception in what appears to be his synagogue social hall, with some dancing and refreshments and typical party decorations — paper chains, balloons, a “Happy Bar Mitzvah” banner. 1.5/5

Drama: Extra points for the edge-of-your-pew cliffhanger over whether or not the bar mitzvah boy would actually show up to the ceremony; points off for the rabbi admitting he may have lost faith in his young pupil. Rude. 3/5 

Bonus Points: When I was in Sunday school as a fourth grader, we had to do an assignment about what we were thankful for, and I aced the assignment by blatantly ripping off the rabbi’s lessons from this episode, so it gets bonus points for that alone. Also, Harold’s growth arc as he ascends into the role of an adult in his community is heartwarming and relatable, especially when he muses to Arnold, “I’m old enough to have all these responsibilities, but I can’t rent a canoe?” What, as the kids say, a #mood. 5/5 

Total Score: 16

Joseph’s Bar Mitzvah

“Gossip Girl”

Food: Sadly, we cannot score in this category as no food or beverages are shown.


Theme & Décor: There’s some nice florals around the room, and the electric guitar print motif on the décor is just the right amount of theme. 4/5

Drama: The vibes were carefree enough that not only did the hosts not care that Chuck and Blair crashed their bar mitzvah, but actively embraced the crashers, even hoisting them during the hora. 5/5

Bonus Points: Chuck and Blair present the bar mitzvah boy with a gift, reminding us all that if you’re going to crash a bar mitzvah, at least show some courtesy. 2/5

Total Score: 16

Skyler’s Bar Mitzvah

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”

Food: We don’t actually see any of the food being served, but we’re told by Rebecca’s mom the buffet is only on for an hour. But there are dumplings. 2/5  

Music: As the musical number declares, “the DJ is terrific (his grandma’s a survivor)!” On a show with a memorable original song in nearly every episode, “Remember That We Suffered” stands out as a relatable ode to existential dread and generational trauma, and even as a minor-key bummer, it still gets 5/5.

Theme & Décor: A bevy of blue, silver and white balloons, including giant balloons spelling out the bar mitzvah boy’s name. Josh and David do seem to have a lot of fun with the inflatable electric guitars though, and wouldn’t we all? 3/5  

Drama: There is a lot to unpack on the existential dread front — family stuff, generational trauma, crises of faith, confrontations with your rivals, that darkly familiar feeling of wanting everyone to be as miserable as you are right now. Is it fun? Absolutely not. Have we all been there? Hell yes. 1.5/5

Bonus Points: Mazel to Patti LuPone for joining the Kathryn Hahn League of Non-Jewish Actresses Who Can Convincingly Play Rabbis. Who wouldn’t want to get a pep talk from Rabbi Patti? 5/5

Total score: 16.5

Brad’s Bar Mitzvah 

“The Wonder Years” (2021)

Food: Among the items we see are classic buffet chafing dishes and an assortment of sweets, good enough that a guest stuffs some hors d’oeuvres into their pockets for later. 4/5

Music Selection: The upbeat jazz band is a definite upgrade from the band that performs at the reception in the original “Wonder Years.” 4/5

Theme & Décor: Simple, classic and unobtrusive, from a simpler time, before themes. 3/5

Drama: I got secondhand anxiety watching protagonist Dean trying to go between settling drama with his best friend and girlfriend and bailing on helping Brad with his speech (even though it all works out in the end). 1/5

Bonus Points: In addition to upping the fun factor of the original “Wonder Years” bar mitzvah, the reboot, which centers on a middle-class Black family in Montgomery, adds layered conversations about race, inclusion and community to the show, along with a portrayal of Southern Jewish life we still rarely see on TV. And how could you not love the conclusion of Brad’s d’var Torah: “I may not know what my third name is yet, but I do know who I am: a proud Jew from Alabama!” 5/5 

Total Score: 17

Lauren’s Hot Mitzvah


Food: No food, but a combo shot of Manischewitz and molly is a helluva way to jump-start a party. 4/5  

Music Selection: Sydney James Harcourt (“Hamilton”) plays the enthusiastic MC K-Ron, who kicks off the night with a cheesy original rap about the guest of honor. He and his backup dancers keep the party going all the way through the hora. 3.5/5 

Theme & Décor: Contemporary day-party vibes, with gorgeous tropical flowers, a Judaica-print step-and-repeat flanking the bimah and a giant neon Star of David. Oh, and there’s the video invitation, in which Lauren wears a bikini fashioned from two kippahs. 3.5/5

Drama: The night is fairly drama-free (for most guests, anyway), save for an awkward speech from Lauren’s parents (including Kathy Najimy as her mom!) during the ceremony. 4/5

Bonus Points: My Hot Mitzvah Hot Take is although Lauren’s party is excessive and played for laughs, more people should throw parties in adulthood for things that aren’t weddings or babies. Sometimes, you just have to celebrate your glow-up with the people you love. And kosher wine. And MDMA. 2.5/5  

Total Score: 17.5

Desus & Mero’s B’nai Mitzvah

“Desus and Mero” 

Food: The snack buffet looks enticing, most notably the Yankees cookies, but the real stars are the copious amounts of Manischewitz and Henny. 3/5 

Music: The dancing doesn’t even stop when Eric Andre breaks a bottle of booze on the floor. 5/5 

Theme & Décor: When the Bodega Boys become Bodega Men, they get a classic theme — the New York Yankees — and even a slogan (“I Had a Ball With Desus & Mero”). Points for accuracy. 4/5

Drama: Between straight-up yelling “this is a super-spreader event, y’all!” and the aforementioned broken bottle, I have, uh, some safety concerns. 1/5

Bonus Points: Even though this may not be a real bar mitzvah, Rabbi Fersko from The Village Temple does an excellent job putting Jewish culture and ritual into context, as does Eric Andre in the way only Eric Andre can (“A world of anxiety and genital mutilation”). And we find out that the Torah could be considered 420-friendly. Genesis 1:12. Look it up. 5/5

Total Score: 18

Becca’s Bat Mitzvah


Food: Nothing takes you back to the b’nai mitzvah circuit quite like chafing dishes full of fried appetizers, but the real draw is the Dippin’ Dots cart. Nothing in the year 2000 symbolized the glorious, idyllic future quite like those little freeze-dried ice cream orbs. 4.5/5

Music Selection: I was a late-’90s/early-aughts adolescent, and the shudder of recognition upon seeing the first footage of Becca’s bat mitzvah reverberated deep within my soul. The dancers wearing sparkly gold vests doing suburban-mom “hip-hop” moves! The glow sticks! But the real winner is the playlist, full of era-appropriate jams like “I Swear” and “Blue (Da Ba Dee).” I wish I could give this more than 5/5

Theme & Décor: The Broadway theme is a classic, right down to the foam-board centerpieces featuring the bat mitzvah guest of honor’s face photoshopped into Playbills. 3/5 

Drama: The bat mitzvah episode of “Pen15” is beautiful not only in its pitch-perfect depiction of the suburban bat mitzvah party experience but in its very real portrayals of typical adolescent struggles: class anxiety, divorcing parents, shattering of existing beliefs, choosing to drink creme de menthe straight from the bottle. 3/5

Bonus Points: The iridescent suits! The butterfly clips! I will never be over how good this show is at those little early-aughts details. 3/5  

Total Score: 18.5 

Tammy’s Bat Mitzvah

“Bob’s Burgers”

Food: You and I both know that stations are just a buffet with extra steps, but any party where a hungry guest can stock their plate with a Bob Belcher-made slider, gnocchi, house-made chips and guac, dumplings and made-to-order crepes from the crepe station is going to get 5/5.

Music Selection: Tammy’s bat mitzvah transcends the DJ/band binary, with a DJ spinning in the bathroom and the Klezbians commanding the room on the main stage. 5/5

Theme & Décor: To say the theme (spoiler: it’s “Tammy”) is A Bit Much is an understatement, complete with an original song, intro video and a giant replica head of the bat mitzvah girl hanging over the stage. As the playwright Anton Chekhov famously once said, if you’re going to introduce a giant head in Act One, someone had better get trapped inside it in Act Two. 3/5

Drama: For most guests, the evening just feels like an opulent party, but there’s red-hot tension behind the scenes. The bat mitzvah guest of honor treats the people working the event and her parents like garbage, and eventually gets her comeuppance by getting trapped in Chekhov’s giant head, leaving Tina to take over the party and become consumed by the allure of being the bat mitzvah girl. The drama is fun to watch, but it’s hard to not cringe at the excess and cartoon caterers being mistreated. Don’t be a jerk, kids. 2.5/5

Bonus Points: Bonus points for the appearance from queen Jenny Slate as Tammy and for Tina Belcher, who is not Jewish, somehow knowing the Hamotzi. 3/5

Total Score: 18.5

The Bar Mitzvah Depicted in the Song “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah”

“30 Rock”

Food: According to the song, the reception (at the Larchmont Country Club) features “a real nice brisket and an eight-foot party sub,” a solid if not meat-heavy menu to satisfy the needs of hard-partying lycanthropes. 3.5/5

Music Selection: We know there was dancing at the reception (at least before the Monster Fight), but little is said about the music or entertainment. But “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” itself has more staying power than an ‘80s slasher villain, and for that, it gets 5/5.

Theme & Décor: “Werewolves” as a bar mitzvah theme would definitely set a party apart. “Oh, your theme was Broadway? And each of the tables was a different musical? How original. My theme was Werewolves.” 5/5  

Drama: While nearly dropping the Torah when your hands turned into paws is about as awkward as it gets, the drama at Werewolf Bar Mitzvah has actual stakes. The Country Club employees turn into zombies! There’s a big Monster Fight! This would get full marks for exciting drama, but loses a point for the risk of getting your brain eaten. 4/5

Bonus Points: Honestly, stretching this whole (sweaty) premise into a full song that still gets stuck in your head like once a week is a sign of a memorable party. 1.5/5  

Total Score: 19

Lindsay Eanet

Lindsay Eanet is a Chicago-based writer whose work has appeared in Howler, Autostraddle, Block Club Chicago, and her friends' dating app bios. She is the host & producer of I’ll Be There for You, a podcast about pop culture and coping. But enough about her, let’s talk about you

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