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‘Our Boys’ Limited Drama Series Gets Premiere Date On HBO

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Created by Hagai Levi, Joseph Cedar and Tawfik Abu-Wael, Our Boys is set in the summer of 2014, when three Jewish teenagers are kidnapped and murdered by Hamas militants. Israel is shocked, shaken and furious. Two days later, the burned body of a Palestinian teenager from eastern Jerusalem is found in a forest on the western outskirts of the city. In the ensuing days, an agent from the internal terror division of the Shin Bet investigates the murder, while the parents of the slain teenager begin their long and anguished journey toward justice and consolation.

Filmed in Israel, the series is based on the true events which led to the outbreak of war in Gaza. It follows the investigation of Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s murder, and tells the story of all those involved, Jews and Arabs alike, whose lives were forever changed by these events.

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THR review tag line:

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Your finest tapestry of abject misery porn.

Review also says it may require more than a passing knowledge of the minutiae of Israeli culture.

Then this summary:

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Our Boys is rife with a distinct Israeli machismo that passes mere tonal brooding and brutality. While the show is an open critique of animalistic violence and performative masculinity, it also has almost no room for female characters beyond a few crying mothers and snippy background investigators. The one notable exception is steely Dvora (Noa Koler, The Wedding Plan), a therapist who works closely with Avishai to push through his OCD, and later, a vow of silence that impedes Khdeir's murder case. Dvora is a welcome break from the sea of bearded men who make up the majority of the cast, her tough-as-nails charisma and incongruous woolen beret a beacon that pulls you out of the show's bleak literalism. All hail the life-giving beret.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/boys-review-1230465

Sounds like lighthearted summer entertainment, though I guess it’s heading into the fall, when people are going back to work, turning serious again.

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Simon is the only rational, calm character, who's trying to prevent riots all over the city.  Looks like even his own mother and brother are getting caught up in the fervor, especially some stirred up by religious leaders.

Hussein was calm for the most part but then they started interrogating him about his son's abduction and killing.  Meanwhile they lead him on and he finally had had enough, demanding his phone back, being allowed to call his wife.

Meanwhile, Simon can't even get his colleagues to approach the case rationally or honestly.  But for all the police efforts to be methodic, all hell breaks loose in the rest of the city.

It's pretty engrossing to see news archival footage of the rioting and Netanyahu's divisive rhetoric being weaved in around the scenes.

For some reason, the teasers made it seem like it would be drawn out over all the episodes about the missing boys but it seems now the suspense is finding out who perpetrated the abduction and killing.

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This is an extremely well done series but it has a definite political preference. It is going to be hard to discuss the episodes without going off on tangents and creating political controversies.

The first two episodes hardly spent any time on the murders of the three Israeli Jewish boys by Hamas. Maybe that will come later. But a great deal of time was spent on the missing Palestinian boy who was later found murdered. 

I hope there is a balanced presentation because all of the murders were horrible and heartbreaking.  

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This show aired in Israel from the looks of it so I'm sure it was controversial.

They used different storytelling devices.  First they tell the story of the 3 Israeli boys and the search for them well after they went missing it seems.

In contrast, they show Mohammed before he's taken, and his abduction seems to be a direct result of the abduction and killing of the Israeli boys.

But I can see how some might think they humanized Mohammed a bit which they didn't really get to do with the Israeli boys.

What struck me was how religious both Israelis and Jews were.  In the US, people are not allowed to pray in places tied to the govt. like schools, because of the separation of Church and State.

But also, I'm not aware of too many public prayer events like those depicted in the first episode.  In small towns in the bible belt you might have something like that but this was in Jerusalem, a large metropolitan city with I assume a big foreigner population.

Especially the younger kids seem preoccupied with religion.  That one guy who was being encouraged to become a rabbi seemed to be questioning that future.  But all these young people going to the big prayers was a striking thing to see.

Mohammed was fasting for Ramadan and he would go to prayers at the mosque regularly it seems.  And maybe he wanted to go to Istanbul for religious reasons as well.

I also wonder if those young Orthodox men, who were defiant of the police -- though the one didn't like being in prison -- is representative of a significant segment of the Israeli populace.

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Ep 3.

When they first showed inside the police office, I wasn't sure if it wasn't a TV station with that big wall of screens and everyone working there looking at them.

What they refer to as Shabak is not just some ordinary police dept:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shin_Bet

It's interesting how they process all the different security camera footage to track the suspects on the night of the abduction.  One of the characters said there's a camera on every pole in Jerusalem.

Then they send undercover agents to take pictures of suspects, the possible car and are streaming video back to Shabak headquarters in real time with their phones.  At least one would hope they're not using something like FaceBook Live or something.

Simon's boss doesn't seem too happy that they identified the suspects as Jews.

When Hussein, the father gets that call at the end, his silence afterwards tells you everything.

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Ep 4:  Dawn Martyr

Don’t know how they are using the main suspect’s own phone to spy on him and his family.

Seems like they’re using a drone too when they’re swimming and they have that overhead shot.

 But the prime ministers office is telling them not to arrest anyone unless they’re absolutely sure.

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E5 Shabbat Shalom

Really interesting the lengths they’ll go to before arresting the suspects.  Besides all the electronic surveillance — how do they get all those cameras in that home? — Simon goes deep undercover.

He’s not religious but borrows the skull cap from his brother and is talking to some of these zealot rabbis and eventually the suspects, after being invited to dinner there.

Then when they arrest they go all stealth like special forces and breaks into the home in the middle of the night.

I wonder if it’s more accurate depiction of how police and intelligence agencies operate there vs. American procedurals shows and movies.

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On 8/13/2019 at 1:34 AM, DakotaLavender said:

This is an extremely well done series but it has a definite political preference. It is going to be hard to discuss the episodes without going off on tangents and creating political controversies.

The first two episodes hardly spent any time on the murders of the three Israeli Jewish boys by Hamas. Maybe that will come later. But a great deal of time was spent on the missing Palestinian boy who was later found murdered. 

I think this was a very valid choice. Think about the fact that this was made by Israelis primarily for the Israeli market. Israelis already know and are outraged by the murder of the three Jewish boys. They don't need a show to get them there. What the show has to bring to an Israeli audience that's fresh is that many Palestinians want to live peaceful, orderly lives and are human and suffer too, just like Jews.

I know this is the way the show has affected me. As an American Jew, I have kind of a knee-jerk bias in favor of Israel. So I'm appreciating the compassion the show is creating in me for the Palestinian family at its center.

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9 hours ago, Milburn Stone said:

I think this was a very valid choice. Think about the fact that this was made by Israelis primarily for the Israeli market. Israelis already know and are outraged by the murder of the three Jewish boys. They don't need a show to get them there. What the show has to bring to an Israeli audience that's fresh is that many Palestinians want to live peaceful, orderly lives and are human and suffer too, just like Jews.

I know this is the way the show has affected me. As an American Jew, I have kind of a knee-jerk bias in favor of Israel. So I'm appreciating the compassion the show is creating in me for the Palestinian family at its center.

I agree with you but I am also a Jew, a Jewish woman, and I also love the Palestinian family of the murdered Palestinian boy. But having said that... this series may have been made for an Israeli market but it is being shown now in America and there is no balance because many Americans are unaware of the Jewish boys who were killed first. 

In order to continue this conversation it HAS to get political and this is not the forum for that. So I respectfully will now end this post. 

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I appreciate your take on it, @DakotaLavender, and I too will stay unpolitical in my response. I will simply offer a "data point," if you will, consisting of this viewer's experience of the show. I was completely unaware of the precipitating real-life event the show is based on until I started watching the show--and as someone who lacked that knowledge, I felt the show did an excellent job of bringing me up to speed on it. I fully understood, from the show, the rage in Israel as a result of the killing of the three Jewish boys. Even though that killing takes place just before the timeline of the show, the pain and loss felt by the affected Jewish families occurs well within the show's timeline, and is thoroughly depicted. As is the rage and fear throughout the Jewish population as a result of the killing. Shabak's focus is on containing that rage and fear by solving the case as quickly as possible, so that is another element that relentlessly focuses us on the original atrocity, not just the revenge killing that followed it. Others may well respond to the show differently; I can only tell you my feeling that the criticism of the show for being biased doesn't match my experience of the show's contents.

Edited by Milburn Stone

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5 hours ago, Milburn Stone said:

I appreciate your take on it, @DakotaLavender, and I too will stay unpolitical in my response. I will simply offer a "data point," if you will, consisting of this viewer's experience of the show. I was completely unaware of the precipitating real-life event the show is based on until I started watching the show--and as someone who lacked that knowledge, I felt the show did an excellent job of bringing me up to speed on it. I fully understood, from the show, the rage in Israel as a result of the killing of the three Jewish boys. Even though that killing takes place just before the timeline of the show, the pain and loss felt by the affected Jewish families occurs well within the show's timeline, and is thoroughly depicted. As is the rage and fear throughout the Jewish population as a result of the killing. Shabak's focus is on containing that rage and fear by solving the case as quickly as possible, so that is another element that relentlessly focuses us on the original atrocity, not just the revenge killing that followed it. Others may well respond to the show differently; I can only tell you my feeling that the criticism of the show for being biased doesn't match my experience of the show's contents.

Do we see the families of the murdered Jewish boys? I cannot recall. I have some difficulty reading the subtitles and they are distracting because I cannot focus on the actors when I am reading the entire episode. I feel the show depicts the Jews in a somewhat stereotypical manner. 

Anyway, I feel the show is definitely pro Palestinian and there ARE many Jews who (and here we go with the politics) who are still pushing the two state solution when the Palestinians feel Israel is an occupation and will never recognize Israel as a state. 

I feel this show was created by no member of the Likud party. I could be wrong....

ETA: I may delete the above. I think I have to watch these episodes again. Honestly, the subtitles has me a little lost. I think, after reading again your post, that I could be very wrong. 

Edited by DakotaLavender

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They showed at least one of the mothers of the Jewish boys.

I don't know much about the Likud party but my guess is that they're not generally working in TV/Film or other types of creative industry, just as Republicans generally don't work in Hollywood.

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So for all that electronic surveillance, they need to get confessions out of them.

But the confessions are not enough, they have to do a re-enactment.

But the re-enactment is derived from the confession.

I don’t think this series is anti Israeli.  It shows the great lengths they go to, these Shabak and prosecutor, to get at the truth, to get justice.  The Palestinians are skeptical and think the Israelis are doing it for PR.

But you can see that they hold themselves to high standards in the pursuit of justice.

Though it is interesting that many are repulsed by religious zealotry of some of the orthodox.  But I think it was Shimon who said many of the settlers were just looking for nicer places to live, implying that they weren’t all zealots looking to take over disputed lands.

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This week's episode was truly harrowing. 

Whether or not IRL they needed a re-enactment in order to convict, it was an excellent device for taking us through the events of that night while simultaneously taking us inside the tortured conscience of Avishai. 

There is no doubt one feels sympathy for Avishai despite his participation in the horrible act. This has been so since the beginning. And that leaves me feeling that the show's subtext is that conscience matters. Conscience isn't everything--our actions matter--but those with a conscience are more worthwhile as human beings than those without one.

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No my DVR is set to record next week.

So Yosef’s Lawyer is going for insanity defense.  Yosef didn’t talk to the lawyer but he shows up in court saying he’s the Messiah?

But if he does that, then the other two young boys could even be more culpable, even though Yosef was the ringleader.

How does Yochi end up in prison with them?  They tell him their identities and now they go accost Shimon’s brother.

It’s interesting how emboldened some Israelis became in publicly expressing racist thoughts on social media.

Also how Israeli media was reporting how the IDF operations in Gaza were drawing condemnations from abroad.

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Does anyone know if Avishai’s vow of silence actually happened, or is dramatic embellishment?

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On 9/24/2019 at 7:33 AM, Lemons said:

Was last night the end?  How can they leave us like that?  

There are 10 episodes. The final one airs Monday of next week.

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I guess Simon's undercover career is over.

Are those ultra orthodox people prone to attacking "traitors" in the Shabak?

What a POS Yosef is, he's going to throw his nephews under the bus by pretending to be insane.

The American shrink should have been dubious when Yosef wouldn't answer but as soon as he threatened to leave, he dropped his act and started squawking.

But it's ridiculous that they shop for a shrink who'd say he's crazy, especially when it puts the nephews in greater jeopardy.  Josef's rabbi father is after all their grandfather too.

Then they tried to pressure Dr. Segal to back up their insanity defense.

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3 hours ago, scrb said:

The American shrink should have been dubious when Yosef wouldn't answer but as soon as he threatened to leave, he dropped his act and started squawking.

I can't imagine that bringing him in would help at all.  It just highlights that Yosef's real psychiatrist doesn't think he's incompetent or they would have her testify.  Plus I would guess the prosecutor would bring her in to testify and her testimony would have a lot more weight.

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On 10/2/2019 at 8:15 PM, Lemons said:

I can't imagine that bringing him in would help at all.  It just highlights that Yosef's real psychiatrist doesn't think he's incompetent or they would have her testify.  Plus I would guess the prosecutor would bring her in to testify and her testimony would have a lot more weight.

Unless she caves because of the imminent loss of her livelihood if she doesn't. I hope she stays strong.

I found this episode really interesting for the way it made us reconsider Avishai's complicity. Our empathy has been with him because we've basically bought into his self-concept that he's a good person who would never do a terrible thing. And we know he's a bit psychologically damaged in a way that engenders our sympathy. And this makes Simon's testimony feel like a terrible betrayal. But then the show does a change-up on us, because it seems like Yinon really doesn't remember Avishai saying "don't kill him." (Yinon's recollection seemed authentic; he could be wrong, but he believes he's correct). And it makes you consider that even if Avishai did walk away from the actual murdering part, he is every bit as complicit as the others because the murder couldn't have happened without him, and he deserves every bit as much punishment as they do. And that's the hard truth.

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So good series, tried to be sympathetic to the Arab family.  I wonder how that was received in Israel.

I suspect that the characters in this series are more noble than their real-life counterparts.

For instance, the Khdeirs tried to avoid getting pulled into politics but in the final episode, Hussein said compared the Israeli occupation to Apartheid.

I wonder if the real-life parents managed to rise above the fray.

I liked the scene with Rabbi Ben-David, imploring to Yosef to take greater responsiblity so that Yinon and Avishai would get lighter sentences but then Yosef started spewing nonsense about being tortured and the Rabbi immediately hung up and left the prison.

But in the epilogue, the real-life rabbi is hiding his face from cameras and accuses the Israeli court of imprisoning his son and grandsons to appease the "Gentiles and the world."

Certainly was illuminating to people outside of Israel about some of the internal cultural conflicts there.

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