It's all about love on Israeli TV - here's what's coming

Beauty and the Baker is back for its anticipated third season.

(photo credit: SHAI YEHEZKEL)

The big news in Israeli television this week is the return of Beauty and the Baker for season three. It’s about a wealthy Tel Aviv model, Noa (Rotem Sela), and how she falls for regular-guy Amos (Aviv Alush, whose character description may call for him to be ordinary but who looks like a supermodel himself) who works in his family’s bakery in Bat Yam.

It has the classic rom-com format, where they meet by accident, fall for each other, and are pulled apart as life throws obstacle after obstacle in their path. Some of the obstacles come from his working-class Mizrahi family and jilted former fiancée, Vanessa (Hila Saada, consistently the funniest performer), while others who stand in their way include her annoying agent (Mark Evanir) and business tycoon father (Tzahi Grade).

it gets even more complicated in the second season, with a host of supporting characters parachuting in from left field to add to their woes, ending with a disastrous wedding (no spoilers here).

The third season picks up three years after the end of the second, with Noa and Amos divorced. She is living in Los Angeles and is a successful actress when she gets a call from Amos telling her – you guessed it – that he is about to marry someone else, and inviting her to the wedding.

There is a bit of back and forth about whether she will actually go, but anyone who has ever watched a sitcom knows how that will turn out, and soon she and her agent are on a plane; and anyone who has ever seen a rom-com will know before Noa and Amos that they are still in love with each other, but the two of them gamely pretend to be the best of friends.

Celebrity chef Eyal Shani makes an appearance in the latest episode. If you enjoyed the previous seasons, you will likely have fun with this one. It’s all about spending time with these very attractive characters and not so much about the plot. The US version of this series, set in the Latin-American community – which sounded like a great idea – lasted only one season, the same as with the US version of Traffic Light (Ramzor). Comedies from Israel don’t work abroad as well as the dramas, such as Betipul and Prisoners of War, adapted as In Treatment and Homeland, respectively. Beauty and the Baker airs on Tuesday nights after the news on Channel 12 (Keshet) and episodes can be seen on the Mako website.

If you have gotten hooked by Netflix’s The Squid Game – like much of the world, apparently – and need a break from watching the graphic killing of hundreds of ordinary debt-ridden people, you might want to try the new HBO series, The Pursuit of Love, set in England between the two world wars.

Adapted from the 1945 Nancy Mitford novel by actress Emily Mortimer (who has a small role), it is an odd mixture, as if Wes Anderson had remade Brideshead Revisited and cast young women in the leads. It is fey to the point of cutesiness at times, with the names of characters and their attributes emphasized by on-screen titles, a method Anderson has used.

But it is also a charming, escapist fantasy, about bookish Fanny (Emily Beechum), who has been raised by her aunt, after her mother (Mortimer), a serial monogamist – nicknamed the Bolter (which Princess Diana’s mother was also called) – leaves her again and again.

Fanny is mesmerized by her much wilder cousin, Linda (Lily James), who feels she is withering in the huge mansion where she lives with her ignorant, tyrannical father (Dominic West), who doesn’t want his children to have an independent existence, a character apparently based on Mitford’s father.

Andrew Scott, who played the priest on Fleabag, is on hand as their bohemian, artistically inclined and judgmental neighbor. It’s one of those intense, female-friendship sagas, enlivened by James’s sensual performance and a pulsing, often anachronistic soundtrack. While it’s not perfect, you will feel much better after watching it than you do looking at piles of bloodstained tracksuits in Squid Game. The Pursuit of Love starts on Hot HBO on October 19 at 10 p.m., and on Next TV and Hot VOD.