Hashoter Hatov is a satirical portrayal of Israel that looks different against our global dialogue on police brutality.
There couldn’t be a better setting for Hashoter Hatov (The Good Cop) than Petakh Tikva, one of the earliest Jewish settlements in the center of Israel, just a short ride from Tel Aviv.
Petakh Tikva has become a symbol of peripherality; many Israelis joke about how insignificant the city is. If you want to see what’s living day-to-day in Israel is really like beyond the headlines, Hashoter Hatov will show you.
The cop comedy, whose first season is available to American viewers on Netflix, follows Israeli policeman Danny Konfino (Yuval Semo) and family and his friends and coworkers in the station. After Danny’s fiancée cheats on him and they break up, he’s forced to move back in with his parents.
Danny’s journey is one of learning to control his anger and open his heart, but also one of trying to live in a country that barely gives a damn about him.
Though the show occasionally crosses the thin line from satire to offensive humor, its goal is a novel one: to deconstruct toxic behaviors and show an unglamorized version of Israel.
Some notes before I recommend the show. First, the cast includes Moshe Ivgy, who was accused by several women of sexual harassment and indecent acts in 2016 and indicted in four cases in 2020 (Hashoter’s first season was filmed in 2015). Ivgy’s presence on my screen tells another Israeli story — one of a society that too often neglects its women.
That isn’t the only problem. As waves of protests against police brutality erupt in the U.S. and all over the world, I cannot turn a blind eye to how, as with any cop comedy, Hashoter Hatov essentially treats Danny’s violent behavior toward suspects and criminals as a joke.
Violence is a fact within an organization that forgives and encourages it, and the show does acknowledge that. What’s missing is a deeper acknowledgment of how unfunny police brutality actually is and who suffers from it the most.
Nevertheless, the ugliness that often appears in the show and surrounds parts of it adds to its authenticity, which is the show’s heart. That’s Israel, for better or worse.
WHERE TO WATCH
The first season of Hashoter Hatov (and its American remake) is now available on Netflix. Two more seasons have already aired in Israel.
Michael Elias is a young Jewish non-binary poet and writer, currently studying comparative literature and history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.