Jewish Mum of the Year: Does motherhood really fall into cultural stereotypes?
All the clichés were out in force - there was Emma, the bitchy princess, and Ruth, the humourless religious one, Lesley, who can't cook but can shop, and Sandi, the glamorous granny who knows it all.
Within minutes of it airing, #Jewishmums was trending on Twitter, with debate raging. Many members of the Jewish community cringed and hoped viewers realised that we are not all like this.
Some were offended, feeling that programme-makers are picking on Jews as the latest minority culture to poke fun at, in the wake of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.
"How are we supposed to fight negative stereotypes of Jews when our own communal media encourages programmes like this?" one woman tweeted.
"Absolutely grippingly horrendous," commented mother Natasha. "We're Channel 4's new gypsies."
Others, like me, found it an affectionate self-portrait of the clichés of Jewish motherhood and enjoyed plenty of self-deprecating Jewish humour.
"I'm unsure why everyone has cringed at it," says mother Deborah. "That is how we are! Sorry but I've seen all those types of women before."
So is there any truth in national stereotypes of motherhood? And is it helpful to identify with those of our own culture? Are French mothers really all laid-back and alluring; are Italian mothers smothering feeders (much like Jewish mothers); are Chinese mothers really 'tiger' mothers who expect their children to play the violin and know how to do algebra by the age of five? What about the image of the Asian mother who just wants her children to marry into a good family, or the Nigerian mother whose child must become a doctor or a lawyer (again, another crossover with Jewish mothers)?
I'm a fairly new Jewish mother (my son is still a toddler) and I certainly don't identify with the families on the Channel 4 show. I had no idea I was supposed to have started saving up for my son's bar mitzvah already or that a bar mitzvah is considered by some Jews to be a bigger occasion than a wedding.
My bat mitzvah (the girls' version of the coming of age ceremony) was a simple family and friends party in our living room at home; there were no party bags, expensive gifts or foot-high fruit towers.
I would not mind at all if my son married outside 'the tribe' (I did myself) and while I wouldn't be averse to him turning out to be a doctor or a lawyer, it's definitely not expected. What's more, I don't like chopped liver, wear a wig, or shop in kosher supermarkets.
But I have to admit that watching the Mum of the Year, I was forced to acknowledge that I am in many ways a very typical Jewish mother, whether I want to be or not. Certain descriptions rang all too true: Jewish mums, so it goes, and as the show depicted, are 'full on', bolshy, bossy, shrewd, emotional, full of energy, love their children more than anything, think their children are the best things in the world and have correspondingly high expectations for their children.
Because we think we know best and have a strong sense of right and wrong, we speak our minds and can get a bit competitive and argumentative.
We also have a natural tendency towards hysteria, panic, shouting and fuss (the scene where Emma and Ruth were frantically throwing party bags and screaming at the crowd of teenagers could only have happened at a Jewish occasion). Oh, and we also like to feed people.
Of course these are huge generalisations, but I think it's fair to say my husband would agree that I have all these traits as a mother in spades. And I can see why sometimes he finds my bossy, hectic mothering style slightly perplexing - after all, my culture is pretty alien to his British Christian heritage, in which mothers are stereotypically reserved and calm.
Maybe it's time to start celebrating some of the clichés that make us typical mothers of our own cultures (even if we do reject many of the bits we may not like - in my case, the showiness of the archetypal Jewish mum).
After all, most of the various national and racial stereotypes of motherhood seem to be quite similar: an emphasis on love, nurturing and decent family values.
My friend Diana, a mum of one, can relate. She says: "I'm Jewish and married to an Italian Catholic and love every minute of it. I can fit into both stereotypes depending on which is more suitable for the occasion. Endless possibilities. Most of them around food!"
As Vanessa Feltz noted on the programme: "The Jewish umbilical cord is made of reinforced concrete and chopped liver. Why would anyone want to cut it?"
Are you watching Jewish Mum of the Year?
More on Parentdish: 50 things motherhood teaches you