Netflix started to broadcast second season of its series ‘Touch’. The series has already been broadcast in the United States (where it ended in 2015). In the UK, the first season of the series was broadcast last year (just that I did not see it until this year), and yesterday we were able to start watching the second season.
For those who missed the first season, the series is about an autistic boy called Jake and his father Martin, a former journalist. Martin gave up his career to take care of Jake and follows him on his path to discover the ‘God sequence’. Jake understands everything but does not speak, however, he is a person with special abilities who sees patterns and communicates through numbers, which helps him to see the future. Therefore, when he wants to tell something to his father, he writes a number and sometimes also simply walks off towards the right direction, and his father then follows him. Martin always investigates what Jake points him to, and while sometimes they help random people they also deal with major corporations. The main case in the first season that gains more relevance towards the end is the case of Amelia, a girl declared as dead so that her ability to predict future and see all patterns could be exploited by a major corporation. However, Jake seems to be on the similar path as Martin keeps losing battles for custody despite efforts of the devoted social worker who grows attached to Jake.
This series is again having a typical Netflix touch with supra natural abilities and special people who are helping the world. However, the second season is more dynamic than the first one. Firstly, at the beginning the second season focuses on Amelia and search for her together with her mother Lucy that Jake and Martin randomly meet at the beach in L.A. In addition, this season brings a murderer who is killing people with abilities like Amelia and Jake one by one. This very much resembles similarity with Netflix’s series Heroes, which I mentioned in some of my other blogs (e.g. see here).
In the same way as Syler kills people with special abilities to gain abilities for himself, in this series Guillermo is killing people with special abilities who refuse to do anything about it, because he sees it as blasphemy. The similarity is not surprising if we know that the creator of both series is Tim Kring.
What is also interesting about this series and what frankly makes it stand out and worth watching for us who also followed Heroes, is that it presents a combination of Heroes and a movie Crash along with its new storyline. Just like in Crash, in this series people’s destinies are not interconnected but showed as relevant and we follow different people and their problems in different episodes. In the same vein, some people will never meet whereas some will under unforeseen circumstances.
Finally, what is very refreshing in this series is the representation of Jews, or Orthodox Jews in particular. In the first season Martin and Jake had help from Avram, an Orthodox Jew who is portrayed as a person willing to help and with very progressive views on the world despite his traditional Orthodox Jewish outfit and religiousness. Avram thus, in season one, helps Jake and Martin and in one of the episodes we see his relative who falls in love with an Arab girl in Israel. He asks help from Avram and for his opinion where Avram replies he has a negative opinion on that relationship but is not there to judge and agrees to help him. In the same way, in season two when Jake and Martin run to L.A. after Martin loses custody, Avram agrees to help them to find accommodation in the Orthodox Jewish house. In majority of series and movies, Jews suffer from stereotypical representation of restrictive religion that drives people away (Abrams, 2011) and communal exclusiveness portrayed in a very negative light (see Topić, 2016), whereas this series represents inclusive character of some Orthodox Jews and shows clearly that we cannot generalise, and that while some Orthodox Jews may be restrictive the other may not be like that even if they do adhere to the same level of religious observance.
In a nutshell, Touch has a typical Netflix story line of people with abilities, i.e. all because of which we love Netflix.
Thank you for reading.
Abrams, N. (2011). My religion is American: A Midrash on Judaism in American Films, 1990 to the Present. In – Cortiel, J.; Freitag, K.; Gerhardt, C., & Wala, M. (eds.) Religion in the United States, pp. 209-225. Heidelberg: Winter Verlag.
Topić, M. (2016, under review). “Do you even understand what off the rack means?”- Americanization and Jewish Identities in the Television series ‘Friends’.