A Farewell to Boychiks: Red Oaks’s Country Club Disapora
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The third and final season of the 1980s comedy is a reflection of Jewish diasporas throughout history.

It is often said that all good things must come to an end and that the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long. I believe both platitudes are applicable to Amazon Prime’s Red Oaks, a gem of a TV show about a predominantly Jewish country club in the mid to late 1980s. With the Reagan-era renaissance explosion of the last few years in the form of The Goldbergs, Stranger Things, The Americans, Wicked City, GLOW, and IT, it was easy for such a low-key series to get lost in a whirlwind of other ozone-destroying hairdos, leotard workouts, and New Wave jams. But in the famous words of the ‘80s cinematic hero Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I’ve gone on the record before as calling Red Oaks a suitable replacement for Stranger Things as they are both coming of age tales, albeit with different methods of callback to the decade in which they are set with the latter being a love letter to early Spielberg and King and the former being an homage to the teenage hijinks of John Hughes. In any case, Red Oaks said farewell this past week with a third (and shorter) and final season that mirrors the Jewish diasporas of history.

Courtesy of Amazon

This season finds all the usual faces in transitional phases of their lives: David Myers (Craig Roberts) is hustling as a low-level PA at a production company in Manhattan with the hopes of becoming a director; Wheeler (Oliver Cooper) and Misty (Alexandra Turshen) finishing their respective educations; Sam Myers (Richard Kind) is moving on from his divorce and preparing to open a sandwich shop; Judy Myers (Jennifer Grey) flourishes in real estate and explores her love life; and Doug Getty (Paul Reiser) has acclimated to prison life as an influential inmate after being convicted of insider trading. Even Nash (Ennis Esmer), the club’s foreign tennis instructor who calls everyone “boychik” has hired a new assistant pro. Everyone seems to have a grip on the world…until a cabal of Japanese business men offer to buy the financially failing Red Oaks.

Suddenly, this focal point of brises and bar/bat mitzvahs will be sold off and destroyed for its land. While its members and employees have moved on to different places in their lives, Red Oaks was still a place where they could all return once a year for fun and camaraderie the same way Jerusalem was the central city where Jews from all over would visit three times a year for the Shalosh Regalim (the three pilgrimage holidays) of Sukkot, Passover, and Shavuot.

Courtesy of Amazon

Working together, Getty (still in jail) and Nash attempt to sway the members on voting against selling the club as if they were a group of Jewish rebels attempting to repel the Greek and Roman armies. Alas, it isn’t enough and the club is condemned to be turned over to the invading force and everyone goes on their separate ways: David to Manhattan, Getty to the Caymans, and Nash to Mar-a-Largo, whose current political context is exploited for one of the funniest moments this season. Just like the Jews of yore, they must leave their shared homeland and spread out to settle lands yet unknown to them. Who knew an ‘80s comedy could also be an allegory for Jewish exile?

Only six episodes long, Red Oaks’s swan song of a third season is still able to send off its characters in a fitting and poignant way that will make you smile the whole way through. While we won’t be returning to the North Jersey country club ever again, perhaps we can keep it in mind at our next Passover seder.




Red Oaks




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