Jewish TV character alert: Jason Biggs on ‘Orange Is the New Black’

Jason Biggs, as Larry Bloom, stars as the boyfriend of Piper, the show's main character.

By JTA
July 31, 2013 14:28
2 minute read.
Jason Biggs

Jason Biggs 370. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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One day, years from now, when your grandkids are streaming content directly to their brains, you’ll be able to share with them tales of an era when most TV series could only be seen on something called network television.

“I remember,” you’ll say wistfully, leaning on your cane, “When it all started to change, when Netflix broke ground by releasing an entire season of ‘Arrested Development’—all at once! Next came ‘Orange Is the New Black.’ Now was that ever better than the garbage you kids are watching these days!”

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What, you say? You haven’t yet tuned into the show everyone’s talking about? The one about Piper Chapman, an artisinal soap-making yuppie spending 15 months in a federal women’s prison for carrying a suitcase of drug money her former drug-dealing lesbian lover (Laura Prepon)? Well then you really should—it’s pretty freaking engaging.

But we’re not here to tell you about how this show from “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan will likely help shape the future of TV. Instead, this being 6NoBacon and all, our job is to let you know that the series has a prominent Jewish character: Larry Bloom, played by Jason Biggs.

While others in the blogosphere have expressed concern that Larry is problematically painted in very broad strokes as a typical New York Jew, we disagree. Sure, his parents (yenta mom, lawyer dad) do sort of fit this description, but if you’re going to stuff this guy into a box, it would be less JAP and more gentrified Brooklyn type. A guy on “Girls” who has finally grown up, one might say.

Larry, a writer who doesn’t appear to ever write anything, shops at Whole Foods, watches “Mad Men,” and roasts a whole pig for Piper’s prison send-off party. Oh yeah, and he also helps Piper’s brother fix his trailer–like with tools and everything. Not exactly behavior you’d see from the male castmates on “Princesses: Long Island.”

Any doubt that he might not be Jewish is erased early on, in the scene in which he proposes to Piper.



“Why would I want a felonious former Lesbian WASP shiksa who is about to go to prison to marry me?” He asks, removing a ring from a Ziploc bag. “Why? Because this underachieving, underemployed Jewboy loves her.”

The truth is, despite a few awesome lines like this one, Larry is one of the least complex characters on the show. But we attribute this less to his cultural identity than to his gender. While the other men we see on “Orange Is the New Black”–most of whom work inside the prison–are more interesting than Piper’s husband-to-be, they are less layered and intelligent than the female inmates they are trying to keep in check.

Not exactly the kind of thing you see on most shows, but then again, this is Netflix. Here’s to the future of television.

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