Television show creator Joey Soloway to visit | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Television show creator Joey Soloway to visit 

Television show creator, director and writer Joey Soloway, an alum of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will return to the school this month for two days to discuss their lifelong work and screen a pilot episode for an unreleased show.  

The two-time Emmy-award-winner known for creating and writing the Amazon hit “Transparent” and producing and writing HBO’s “Six Feet Under” was invited back to Wisconsin’s flagship campus by the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies. Their visit is co-sponsored by the school’s department of communications, of which they are an alum.  

“I can’t wait to come back there. I can’t wait to see it all, and I’m bringing my kid,” they said. “I have a 15-year-old who I’m trying to turn into a badger. I want him to fall in love with the red and white Bucky, and I want them just to see and hear all that.” 

Soloway’s visit from Tuesday, April 2 to Thursday, April 4, is made possible by the Conney Project on Jewish Arts, which supports programming and scholarship in the Jewish arts, including literature, music and performing arts. The Chicago native graduated from the university in 1987, receiving the school’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019.   

“Not since Norman Lear has a writer so audaciously spurred television audiences to laugh and think and ask, ‘Who are we?’” said Tony Michels, director of the UW–Madison Center for Jewish Studies, at the time.  

Soloway’s packed two-day visit includes a lunch with film students, speaking with Jewish studies and television comedy classes, and talks with the community. The visit will culminate on Thursday with a showing of a pilot of “The Godyssey,” a new Soloway creation.  

“I’m going to split up the two days between the Jewish Studies Department and the film department,” they said, adding that “The Godyssey” resembles the late Anthony Bourdain’s global search for interesting food. “Instead of looking for food, I’m looking for the divine feminine, which is the hidden goddess, the mother of Abraham.” 

Soloway said that they have not sold the show yet and those who attend the showing will be some of the first to view it. A discussion of the work through a Jewish feminist lens will be held after the viewing. 

“I can’t wait to talk about it with Jewish scholars. But it’s so foolish. Like I’m making up so much Jewish history,” they said of the comedic travel show. “It’s about Jewish witchery and the traditions of Judaism when we were the people of the tree before we were the people of the book. It’s a show about the roots of patriarchy, the roots of the Old Testament and the roots of monotheism.” 

Soloway’s TV career began with writing for shows like “The Steve Harvey Show,” “Dirty Sexy Monday,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Tell Me You Love Me.”  

During their visit, Soloway also hopes to discuss the transgender “gaze,” or perspective, and how it relates to the male and female gaze in film making.  

“So what happens when non-binary people, marginalized people, Black people, trans people, disabled people have the camera?” they said. “We’re emerging into the new world and trying to center marginalized people and dismantle white supremacy and patriarchy.” 

Soloway said they were not raised Jewish, but they got closer to their faith while directing and writing the 2013 film “Afternoon Delight,” which won the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award at that year’s Sundance Festival. They also founded the East Side Jews collective in Los Angeles at about that time. 

“I realized I really like writing Jewish people,” Soloway said, noting that they attended Reboot, a summit of Jewish creatives in Park City, Utah, about 15 years ago. They are now on the board of Nefesh, a Jewish community in Los Angeles.  “I realized that there was Jewishness in my writing voice.” 

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