The most recent addition to the list of my favorite shows of the year is the brilliant Israeli crime comedy-drama series Queens, which is set for its premiere in the US and Canada.
The Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin had it spot on when they sang “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves,” which could be the unofficial theme song of the Israeli crime comedy-drama series Queens.
The show follows the women of the Malka family, one of Israel’s most prominent crime families, following the massacre of their men aboard a family yacht during a bachelor party. With their men gone and the criminal underworld dismissive of and refusing to do business with women, the remaining Malkas must take on rival families to get what belongs to them and avenge the deaths of their loves ones.
Led by the high-strung and overbearing matriarch, Dori (Rita, A Thousand and One Wives), the widow of mobster Yaakov, the sisterhood of the Malkas includes her daughter, Lizi (Dana Ivgy, Autonomies), a tomboy-ish young woman eager to get back the family assets; Naama (Mali Levi, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem), Dori’s psychologist ex-daughter-in-law and mother to teen daughter Nina (Nofar Salman, Spell Keepers) and 9-year-old son Ido (Benjamin Schwabe, Zaguri); and Sapir (Lihi Kornowski, False Flag), aka Nastia, the fiancée of Dori’s late son, Eyali. There’s also Dori’s wacky, racist sister, Tzipi (Orly Silbersatz, Shtisel), and Janet, their dementia-afflicted mother.
While they have lost their men, the Malka women have others in their midst, including fishmonger Albert (Igal Naor, Riviera), Dori’s close friend and confidant and a non-player amongst Yaakov’s associates; Guy Fransis (Roi Miller, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem), a skeevy guy in Yaakov’s crew, who was fortunate not to have been at the ill-fated yacht party; and Hamudi Jubran (Adiv Sfadi, Fauda), a rabbi with his own connections to Israel’s crime world. Then there’s Hillel Kadosh (Gil Frank, The Girl from Oslo), the man Dori is convinced ordered the assassinations of her husband, son, and the others.
While Dori is hellbent on avenging their deaths by personally killing Kadosh, Lizi tries to get the family’s gas station and property development back from rivals who took them as repayment for the money they say Yaakov owed them. Without Eyali, Sapir does what needs must and gets involved with Guy Fransis, especially after her brother, Alex (Michael Givati, Commandments), shows up unannounced… and in trouble. And Naama is forced to do something that no mother should have to do: send her son away. But she has good reason; it’s either this or Ido becomes the next victim.
Clearly, the Malka men were more adept at running their criminal enterprise and dealing with their enemies than the Malka women, because Dori gets too emotional and Lizi gets beat up. Still, they persist, Dori with help from Albert, Lizi with help from Jubran. Still, things don’t turn out the way they want. As Lizi says:
“A woman’s way to hell is paved with her man’s good intentions.”
Isn’t it, though?
But Dori, Lizi, Sapir, Naama, and their female comrades in arms are made of more than the men give them credit for, as we shall see…
Having watched the screeners for the first four of eleven episodes of Queens, the show has already made it to my list of favorites for this year. Unless the story falls off a cliff (which I doubt), I expect the rest of the first season to be equally as entertaining, with its well-balanced mix of drama, suspense, and laugh-out-loud moments. And the acting by the lead cast is terrific, with Rita, better known internationally as a singer, offering up a top-notch comedic performance.
A 2018 Best Comedy Series award nominee by the Israeli Television Academy, Queens premieres in the US and Canada with three episodes tomorrow, Tuesday, September 19, exclusively on MHz Choice and its digital channels, including MHz Choice on Amazon. New episodes will drop in pairs on Tuesdays through October 17. (You can add the show to your watchlist now.)
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