The Television Project: Some of My Best Friends

March 18 - August 14, 2016

As the second installment in The Television Project series, Some of My Best Friends examines anti-Semitism through the lens of television and pop culture. Culled from the over 4,000 holdings of the Jewish Museum’s National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting, the exhibition features clips from programs spanning the last 60 years, works of art, and ephemera and reveals anti-Semitism as a persistent issue in American society of the past and present. 

Superman’s Code for Buddies, 1950. Print advertisement. Collection National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting / The Jewish Museum, New York. On view as part of The Television Project: Some Of My Best Friends.

The Television Project: Some of My Best Friends considers prejudicial depictions of Jewish identity across a range of historic and contemporary television media — from the satire and humor of situation comedy, to the gravity of dramas that dissect the origins, motivations, and consequences of anti-Semitism. The curatorial investigation highlights how television and pop culture have explored the subject of anti-Semitism with considerable artistry and sophistication.

“Television has served as a powerful artistic venue for exploring prejudice in its myriad forms,” observes curator Maurice Berger. “The medium’s handling of anti-Semitism been surprisingly broad and diverse. While television’s interest in the subject swelled in the decades following World War II and the Holocaust, the medium continues to tackle the question of prejudice against Jews.”

At the centerpiece of The Television Project: Some of My Best Friends is a compilation video comprised of television clips from programs such as All in the Family, Downton Abbey, Gunsmoke, LA Law, Little House on the Prairie, Mad Men, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Skokie. The exhibition also includes objects or works of art that reject or are infused with the history of anti-Semitism in the United States.

About the Curator

Maurice Berger is Research Professor and Chief Curator at the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Curator of the National Jewish Archive of Broadcasting at the Jewish Museum in New York.

The Television Project is made possible by The Knapp Family Foundation, the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, and the Alfred J. Grunebaum Memorial Fund.