A HALF-HOUR COMEDY BASED ON THE HIT WEB SERIES YIDLIFE CRISIS
Genre: Scripted Cultural Comedy
OK, WHAT IS THIS?
Mile-Enders is a half-hour cultural comedy about Jamie and Eli — two single-ish, employed-ish, developmentally-arrested-ish best friends/debating adversaries on the cusp of 36 who struggle to find their professional and romantic callings at the “Mile End” of the first half of their lives. The show details their proverbial “YidLife Crisis,” (deli-)sandwiched between the “wisdom” of their traditional Jewish families and their crew of multicultural friends and love interests in the hip and delicious Mile-End neighborhood of Montreal.
Mile-Enders draws on the success of the proof-of-concept web series YidLife Crisis, a passion project Yiddish comedy love letter to Montreal (2016 Canadian Screen Award nominee for Best Digital Series, Winner Best Comedy 2015 T.O. WebFest, 10K+ YouTube subscribers and 1.5M+ video views). The show builds off of the duo’s dialog-driven sketches and two-hander chemistry to create a brand new English series that captures multicultural modern life through the lens of classic Jewish comedy and debate.
The show revolves around Jamie and Eli, exaggerations of the creators, whose lifelong friendship involves arguing topics great (“Is there a god?”) and greater (“which of Fairmount or St. Viateur bagels would you take with you into the afterlife, should it exist?”), Jamie the polar left-wing anarchist to Eli’s right-wing accountant, devilishly advocating as necessary debating partners. The duo only come together on three general things: food, music and women (and even then… don’t get them started). And yet, they are inseparable life partners despite — or perhaps because of — their opposition.
Charming, but seriously, why are you doing this?
Mile-Enders is the story of our own lives growing up in a particular pocket of Montreal as a “Russian Doll” of minorities: rare artsy Jews in a conservative Jewish community, a minority in the Anglophone community, a minority in French-Canadian Québec, a minority in Canada, a minority in the world. So, we know a thing or two about the outsider experience, objectively analyzing the world around us with a Seinfeldian approach.
While Mile-Enders is a two-hander, Montreal serves as the loveable third wheel. The city is not only scenic and historic with multicultural heritage, but its story reflects the characters — on the verge of greatness, but in a state of arrested development. It’s slower, ruminating, brooding, built more on dreams, memories and nostalgia (je me souviens) than its industrious neighbors. So can be said of Jamie and Eli and the fellow shleppers of the Mile-End who just cannot be like their white-collared peers. The show is meant to be unabashedly Montréalais, telling its story and putting all its colors on display.
So tell me - how does this all begin?
Growing up in the traditional Jewish suburb of Côte-St-Luc, Jamie and Eli bond at an early age as artistically-inclined shleppers singing in the prestigious Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue choir (their klutzy version of varsity sports) and as students of Shalom Aleichem High, where they fought over everything from the bible to fantasy hockey, and still managed to have lunch together every single day. Now on the cusp of age 36, many asinine adventures and analytic arguments later, Jamie is a failed musician who scrounges for odd piano gigs around town from jazz bars to churches and unsatisfying stands with women of all creeds, races and colors — except Jews (he’s a self-hating Jew of biblical proportions, i.e. he knows the Old Testament off by heart, and hates every word of it). Eli, also on the cusp of 36, is finally at the precipice of finding steady work at a local accounting firm and dating a Jewish lawyer named Braha he believes will be the woman who finally forces him to propose. How romantic.
When we catch up with the story in the pilot, Eli is ready to propose… he thinks. Jamie is torn — he doesn’t want to be the last guy to marry off in the community, but also doesn’t believe as a friend this will make Eli happy. But as a friend he also wants to respect Eli’s wishes and tries to help him figure out how to propose, only for Eli to come to his senses at the 11th hour and realize he’s absolutely certain he’s not certain about marriage. Meanwhile, while Jamie can enjoy the agonies of commitment from a distance, he finds out he might have accidentally brought his own life into the world with Hélène, a French-Canadian jazz bar waitress. This sends him down a windy road to rock bottom where Eli as a friend must pick him up and provide him structure in the form of the only reliable paid gig he can take – teaching at the very Hebrew School he has been trying to escape from since age 18.
By the end of the first season, Jamie’s hatred of this community turns into a bizarre form of acceptance, coming to find a place for himself as a star "School of Rock" educator and turning his initially antagonistic relationship with Vice Principal and boss Miriam into an opposites attract situation. Meanwhile, Eli loosens up under Jamie’s influence and dates less traditional women, all the while sabotaging himself from steady work at the accounting firm to unemployment. Ultimately, Jamie will have re-established himself as a Jewish Day school educator and Eli as a tech entrepreneur building the interfaith dating app Semite Unite and dating the Haitian caretaker of his wise uncle Moishe.
Under the influence of each other and a cast of other characters as catalysts, these polar opposites have criss-crossed paths and are poised for a brand new adventure in Season 2 with new careers, new romantic interests, and brand spanking new problems.
YOU GOT CHARACTERS?
- Cristina, 35 – The 3rd-generation-Italian owner of Lester’s Deli and no-nonsense advisor during the boys’ post-mortems, she's perfectly quadrilingual (speaking English, French, Italian, and Montréalais), religiously devout…and a lesbian, in the midst of her own CathoLife Crisis.
- Ali, 35 - Eli’s 35 year old Muslim colleague, a scientist turned accountant while also being a devout follower of Islam, having his own EidLife Crisis.
- Braha, 35 – Eli’s almost fiance lawyer with a drive for marriage, a love of tradition, and a bizarre hatred of music.
- Hélène, 28 – Jamie’s long-term off and on again French-Canadian flame from the Upstairs Bar
- Miriam, 30 - The fresh new principal at Jamie and Eli’s Shalom Aleichem High School who, despite Jamie’s efforts, somehow is not going to fire him.
- Uncle Moishe, 75 – Eli’s Mordechai Richler-era uncle offering priceless deathbed advice from convalescence (and wherever he’s wheeled by caretaker Moesha, 32).
- Mr. and Mrs. Baum - Eli’s parents, never seen on screen, who scream at him from the above unit (where they live, as his landlords), often in Yiddish.
- Jamie’s brother Jeffrey – Jamie’s businessman brother, 2.5 years younger than he, with 2.5 kids in Westmount. The opposite path Jamie could have (should have?) taken.
- Jamie’s team of jamming hipsters - various bassists, guitarists and percussionists who partake in the Mary Jane around Marie-Anne Street.
- Teen Jamie and Teen Eli - When Jamie is teaching at Shalom Aleichem High, we see flashbacks to them to see how they grew up (and where they went astray…)
- Hasidic Jamie and Hasidic Eli - Jamie and Eli’s “black hat” döppelgangers, who represent what Jamie and Eli would have been had their parents not assimilated.
Inspirations, references and precedents:
- Broad City - a two-hander grown from a web series, existing as a narrative TV series with supporting web content
- Master of None - multi-ethnic two-hander comedy for digital series built from personal experience and anecdotal storytelling
- Transparent - a pop-cultural phenomenon that treats themes through dramedy, using a Jewish lens on a non-Jewish topic
- Letterkenny - a two-hander based on the real-life experiences of growing up in a specific corner of Canada, also built out of a web series
- Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm - sitcom steeped in a Jewish comedy tradition
YIDLIFE CRISIS NOTABLE AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS
Selected to 2015 LA Web Fest with 2 nominations
Selected to 2015 Liège Web Fes
Selected to Ashkenaz Festival (Toronto) 2014
Selected to San Francisco Jewish Film Festival 2015 (largest Jewish Film Festival in the world), DC Jewish Film Festival 2015, Toronto Jewish Film Festival 2015 and Houston Jewish Film Festival 2016
Presented at IdeaCity 2016, the CRTC Discoverability Summit 2016,Segal Centre for the Performing Arts (Montréal, 2014), Comedy for a Change (Jerusalem, 2014), El Cid (Los Angeles, 2015), JCC Manhattan (NYC, 2015), Koffler Centre of the Arts (Toronto, 2015), JCC Krakow (Krakow, Poland, 2015), Limmud UK (Birmingham, UK, 2015) and may more
Featured in dozens of publications globally, including local media sources (CBC, SRC- Radio Canada, The Gazette, MaTV
Nominated for a 2016 Canadian Screen Award for Best Digital Series
Mile-Enders Awarded the Digi Producer bursary for the 2016 Banff Media Festival
Winner of a Bronze Telly Award for Online Comedy
Winner of 2015 TO Web Fest Outstanding Comedy, four nominations for 2016 Fest
Selected to 2015 and 2016 ITV Fest (Independent Television Festival)
Winner of Best Narrative Short, 2016 Seattle Jewish Film Festival
Selected to 2015 MTL Web Fest with 3 nominations, 4 nominations for 2016 Fest