Israeli series ‘Harem’ heading for Australia

Australian public broadcaster SBS purchased the 'Reshet' drama based on an imprisoned Israeli cult leader.

A promotional photo for the Reshet series 'Harem.' (photo credit: TAL GIVONI/RESHET)
A promotional photo for the Reshet series 'Harem.'
(photo credit: TAL GIVONI/RESHET)
Harem, the Reshet drama series based on a real-life Israeli cult, has been bought by the SBS Australian public broadcaster.
Reshet announced Monday that SBS had purchased the first season of the show, which includes eight episodes. The series, starring Alon Abutbul, is based on the real case of Goel Ratzon, a polygamist cult leader who was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2014.
Ratzon, a native of Tel Aviv who had more than 30 “wives” and close to 50 children, was eventually convicted of rape, incest, sex with a minor, fraud, slavery and other charges.
The series Harem, which premiered on Reshet 13 last year, is based on the autobiographical work Women of the Harem, by Maayan Smadar, who was one of Ratzon’s victims. The show also stars Chen Amsalem Zaguri (Shadow Government), Asi Levi (BeTipul) and Shira Haas (Foxtrot, Shtisel). In the series, lead character Shabtai, who imagines himself a spiritual leader, lives on a commune with more than a dozen women he has lured with grand promises of healing and understanding.
The series won critical acclaim in Israel, and Abutbul was nominated for a best actor award by the Israeli Academy of Television. The series was created by Anat Barzilai, Hadar Galron and Gadi Taub and produced by Endemol Shine.
Last year, Reshet announced it was commissioning a second series of the show.
“It’s a modern, compelling story which left audiences in Israel gripped,” said Endemol Shine Israel CEO Amir Ganor at the time. “We’re thrilled Reshet have given us the opportunity to explore the characters and ideas even further.”