Did USA De-Jew Its Newest Show Lead?
So there's a new show that premiered on USA last night called Royal Pains, and no, it's not simply a fake sitcom about unruly princes that was created as viral marketing for Funny People. In fact, it's a doctor show that stars Mark Feuerstein, an actor who Hollywood has tried to make happen in Good Morning Miami, Fired Up, and countless other short-lived series. How does USA plan to make Feuerstein a star when so many network executives have tried and failed? Hitfix columnist Daniel Fienberg has a provocative theory:
Feuerstein has...been stripped of his most pervasive/reliable character traits, his unimpeachable and most excellent Jewishness. Not only is he playing a "Dr. Lawson," (in anglicized contrast to other shows in which he's played Blooms, Silvers and Fishers) but if you check out USA's official press images for the show, his face has been notable de-Semiticized, in an unnerving piece of airbrushing. Even his quotation of the Yiddish proverb "Mensch tracht, un Gott lacht" is Fortune Cookied into "Man Plans, God Laughs." It's not like it's bad or unbelievable for Feuerstein to play a Gentile or even a secular Jew, but the elements that might otherwise make this character culturally specific are absent. Or perhaps the show's creative team is making a point about "Royal Pains" as an assimilationist narrative? I'm skeptical.
Us too, though we did go to the USA website (Funny thing: Enter "USA" into Google and the network trumps the country in search results. Good job, NBC/Universal marketing!) to pluck an image for side-by-side comparison (above). Did USA's airbrush tool attack Feuerstein's nose too heavily, smoothing it of its character? We'll defer to your opinion in the comments.
· TV Review: 'Royal Pains' [Hitfix]