Everyone knows “The Prince of Egypt” and the two “Shalom Sesame” episodes (Moishe Oofnik is an icon and no one can tell me otherwise), but apparently, there have been other Passover movies and TV episodes that we’ve been missing out on. But fear not, I’ve compiled a full list of what you should be watching to keep your mind off all the carbs you’re missing out on during the eight days of Passover.
“The Prince of Egypt”
This animated Dreamworks film tells the Passover story and is one of the most famous screen adaptations.
It’s a pretty straight-down-the-line retelling of slavery in Egypt, Moses’ ascent, his splitting of the sea and the 40-year trek. Val Kilmer kills it as Moses and the music rivals the best Broadway show (we needed a Hans Zimmer-led soundtrack with a Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey duet).
The all-star cast of “The Prince of Egypt” makes it a must-watch year after year.
See viewing options here for “The Prince of Egypt.”
“The Ten Commandments”
This is the first real Passover movie and while it’s almost 70 years old, it does hold up pretty well. The music and special effects don’t land the same way they would have when the movie was released, but it still is very well made and well acted.
Director Cecil B. DeMille shot a version of this film 40 years earlier in 1923, but it lacked the special effects and had no sound, so he chose to remake it starring Charleton Heston as Moses.
What’s cool about “The Ten Commandments” is that it was shot on location in Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula and at Mount Sinai — at the time, it was the most expensive film ever made. It sheds light into Moses’ childhood, his realization that he is Jewish and his eventual receiving of the 10 Commandments.
See viewing options here for “The Ten Commandments.”
“Exodus: Gods and Kings”
This movie takes some creative liberty when detailing the Passover story, but it still is a fun watch for Passover.
Out of the films listed, it is the most dramatic and is the best at playing up the intensity of the Exodus.
Moses, played by Christian Bale, and Ramses, portrayed by Joel Edgerton, struggle with one another and we witness them both experiencing the 10 plagues. While the acting and effects are phenomenal, it is a very gory film, so it isn’t for all viewers.
See viewing options here for “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
Although it’s not really a Passover movie, “Uncut Gems” takes place during Passover time and has a wild seder scene.
Adam Sandler stars as Howard Ratner, a Jewish jeweler and gambling addict who gets into a pickle when his loan shark brother-in-law begins to push back when his debt reaches $100,000.
Howard and his wife Dinah (Idina Menzel) make the decision to divorce after Passover, and they have a seder in which they sing “Dayenu” and recite the 10 plagues with family. The seder is shockingly the only part of the movie that seems calm in comparison to the tenseness and suspense of the rest of the film.
Howard’s life is a series of “plagues” while he tries to get the money he needs to pay off his brother-in-law, tracks down a black opal NBA star Kevin Garnett borrows, and deals with his disintegrating marriage and his ongoing addiction.
See viewing options here for “Uncut Gems.”
“Seder Anything,” season 2, episode 21
“Gossip Girl” is my favorite show, so I might be biased, but “Seder Anything” is arguably the best Passover TV episode. Cyrus Rose, Blair Waldorf’s Jewish stepdad, brings Judaism to the show and hosts a seder for chaos to ensue.
Clad in a “schmutz happens” apron, Cyrus leads the characters in a seder complete with a homemade brisket “that is going to blow your socks off,” with Dan Humphrey as a cater-waiter for his friends and their family. Sometimes I forget how awkward this show is.
The best part of the show is when Cyrus describes urchatz during the seder. “That was washing of the hands,” he says. “Also called the Title 88 of the New York City health code.”
Gossip Girl sums up the episode perfectly when she says, “On Passover we ask, Why is it that this night is different than any night? But who are we kidding? Tonight’s no different from the rest. These things always happen around here. Shalom.”
See viewing options here for “Gossip Girl.”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“The Seder,” Season 5, episode 7
It wouldn’t be a Jewish listicle without “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” This episode is probably the closest thing to my own family’s seder because it is a mess.
Larry David’s seder is attended by his friends, a local sex offender, a neighborhood newspaper stealer and the neighbor who accused said stealer at the seder table.
The episode begins with Rick, a sex offender who happens to be bald, moving into Larry’s Los Angeles neighborhood. Larry initially is offended that Rick is “bad for the bald community.” However, the two neighbors soon become friends and Larry invites him to the seder because “what would Jesus do?”
No one at the seder is happy that Rick is invited when they learn that he’s a sex offender. The chaos continues when Larry accuses Dr. Mark, his neighbor, of stealing his newspaper and a child of stealing the afikomen — because of course he does.
See viewing options here for “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
“A Rugrats Passover” season 3, episode 26
This one is an oldie but a goodie. In the season finale of the beloved ‘90s cartoon, the baby gang descends onto Grandpa Boris and Grandma Minka’s house. The grandparents argue over which wine glasses to use, causing Boris to go to the attic and seemingly disappear.
Cousin Angelica frees the babies from the playpen because “Passover’s all about freedom,” and she’s feeling nice for once. The group decides to search for toys in the attic where they find a trapped Grandpa Boris. Accidentally closing the door, they too are trapped in the attic.
While locked in, Grandpa Boris tells the children the story of Passover with Tommy Pickles starring as Moses and Angelica portraying Pharoah (because women can be genocidal maniacs too). The hour-long retelling includes the classic line, “Let my babies go!”
After the episode was released, the Anti-Defamation League criticized the portrayal of Jewish people in “Rugrats.” The ADL ripped the show, saying it played into antisemitic stereotypes of older Jews, leading to Nickelodeon discontinuing Grandpa Boris’ role in subsequent episodes.
See viewing options here for “Rugrats.”
“Fish Story,” season 5 episode 18
This one goes out to my mom, who made me search every website to watch “Northern Exposure” with her (unfortunately, you cannot stream “Northern Exposure,” but the entire show is sold as a box set).
In “Fish Story,” Jewish doctor and protagonist Joel Fleischman and his not-Jewish girlfriend Maggie decide how to celebrate Passover in Cicely, Alaska. Maggie wants to host a seder for Joel, but he doesn’t want her to because she isn’t Jewish.
Unfortunately for the couple, Joel gets into a fishing accident and is rendered unconscious. He begins to dream about talking to his rabbi, who encourages him to let Maggie participate in Passover with him because she wants to celebrate to feel closer to him. At the end of the episode, Joel hosts a seder for everyone in Cicely.
“The Body in Question,” season 3, episode 6
In the first Passover episode of “Northern Exposure,” the holiday isn’t at the forefront. Joel begins to consider the way his Ashkenazi heritage has shaped him and dreams of his Polish relatives and their seder. He has a conversation with the prophet Elijah while watching his great-grandfather run the seder.
Elijah scolds Joel for not believing in him and Joel wakes up shivering in a freezer. He quickly says the Shema and when Maggie asks if he remembers his name after the freezer ordeal, he says his Hebrew name.
“The Passed-Over Story” Season 4, episode 21
Fran Fine is that girl and this Passover episode doesn’t fail.
Mr. Sheffield hires Fran’s high school friend Morgan Faulkner to star in his new production. Morgan quickly hires Mr. Sheffield’s oldest daughter Maggie as her assistant to kickstart her future. This new development sends Fran and Mr. Sheffield reeling.
When everyone goes to Fran’s mother’s house for a seder, Maggie reveals that she doesn’t want to be an assistant anymore and quits her job with Morgan, hoping to go to college instead. However, Maggie gives Fran a Passover miracle and allows her to pick up her hero, Barbara Streisand, and James Brolin from the airport.
See viewing options here for “The Nanny.”
“Exciting and New,” season 2, episode 10
If you’re looking for a dramatic Passover episode, “Transparent” gives you just that. The Pfefferman clan takes a cruise over Passover for some R&R, but of course, even the water can’t allow them to forget.
Each family member deals with their own problems, including oldest daughter Sarah’s struggle with her failed synagogue with brother Josh’s ex-fiancee Rabbi Raquel. While each deals with a struggle with either their identity or love interest, the family unit appears to fracture.
In an attempt to reunite, youngest child Ali and Sarah prepare a seder on the cruise. However, the seder quickly goes up in flames.
Josh walks away from the seder after everyone is asked to share what enslaves them, and matriarch Shelly confronts her other two children and ex-wife Maura for their mediocre behavior toward her.
The entire episode is about her understanding her worth: she explores “self-care,” she’s annoyed that her family ignores her in favor of their phones, and finally chooses to call them out for mocking her and leaving her out — to which her family rolls their eyes.
However, Shelly gets the last laugh when she performs her one-woman show, “To Shell and Back,” to her applauding family and crowd on the ship.
Originally Published Apr 4, 2023 04:28PM EDT