People looking for partners have no need to despair if they're chosen to appear on Bubbies Know Best -- these sweet, sage, and sassy Jewish grandmothers will help them find a great first date!
"I think of it as an America's Got Talent panel with three bubbies as judges," said the show's host and moderator, professional wingwoman Erin Davis. Each episode, she and the bubbies gather on a synagogue bimah to meet the lucky suitor who will have a date selected by the bubbies after an interview. The bubbies have three candidates to choose from, based on the suitor's personal, religious, and sexual preferences, and after speaking to each one, they debate who will make the best match for the suitor. The suitor and selected date go out while the bubbies watch and comment on the date footage, and then they return to the studio to debrief and discuss a potential second date.
For Davis, the show is "such a good fit for me and what I believe in," and she draws inspiration from her own bubbie, who is 95 years old. Even with the gap in knowledge between dating in older times and now, her bubbie always has "some good kernel of advice" to contribute -- and with Davis bridging this gap on the show for a millennial audience, she believes that "listening to the wisdom of our elders" can help greatly with dating and more.
Executive Producer Brad Pomerance, who also serves as Senior Vice President of Programming at Jewish Life Television/JLTV, co-created the show for that reason. "Whether you're Jewish or not Jewish, everyone knows what a bubbie is, it's part of the vernacular, and there's a sense in culture that bubbies have wisdom," he said. While most episodes so far have featured Jewish suitors, some episodes have featured non-Jews as well as gay and lesbian participants.
As for the bubbies themselves, finding the right three didn't take long. "The three of them have developed their own style in a way that's exactly what we wanted -- we have Bubbie S.J., the sassy one; Bubbie Linda comes off as more sage and filled with wisdom; and Bubbie Bunny is just so full of love and sweet," Pomerance said.
Their dynamic has taken them to Access Hollywood, TMZ, Steve Harvey, and a recent interview with Zach Galifianakis, where the bubbies "tried to set him up with Bubbie Bunny, who is single, and grilled him about circumcision," Pomerance said. "It was side-splitting hilarity!"
"We had so much fun meeting Zach and putting him through the ringer -- the conversation took on a life on its own!" enthused Linda Rich, known on the show as the sage Bubbie Linda, and the first female cantor ever ordained by the Conservative movement.
After retiring from her cantor job, Rich looked to fulfill a longtime dream of being an actress and knew her experience as a bubbie of 7 would help her dispense good advice. "I've always had an eye for matchmaking. If I had a single friend, my mind goes okay, who do I hook them up with?" continued Rich, who has been married for 31 years.
"It's really fun just meeting new and interesting people and trying to match people up and finding chemistry," she continued, adding that one of her favorite parts of the show is the "very special" dynamic between the three bubbies. Rich has settled into her role as the wise bubbie, giving advice from the Torah and other Jewish sources.
Another bubbie on the show, Sandra J. Mendelson, known as the sassy Bubbie S.J., also draws inspiration from her Jewish past. "My grandmother was a matchmaker in Brooklyn," said Mendelson, who was a recent fan favorite on America's Got Talent. "I basically got it from her, I have the matchmaking gene in me. It's because she would tell stories when she came home from the market."
Inspired by her own bubbie's legacy, Mendelson applied for a place on the show and quickly found her place as the one who "tells it like it is."
"If somebody is mean, I'm going to say something, and I'll say something if they don't iron their shirt or polish their shoes," she said. Frequently clashing with Rich, Bubbie S.J. uses her Brooklyn upbringing to dispense plenty of advice for those looking for love.
"It's been a hoot being on the show!" she enthused. "I know my grandmother would be very proud of me."
The show's third bubbie, Bunny Gibson, also known as the sweet one, grew up Catholic, and didn't know she was 50% Jewish until she took a DNA test. Gibson, who once performed as one of the original dancers on American Bandstand, is thrilled to learn about her newfound Judaism.
"When the audition came up, I wanted to honor this new discovery of who I was," she said. As for her friendship with the other bubbies, "they see I'm trying to learn, and it's very wonderful with Linda being a cantor. She's a wonderful guide for me; I now have two Jewish sisters."
Gibson is thrilled with her role on the show, where she helps people "find more love out there."
"The world needs more love, and if I can be a part of making that happen, I feel that that is one of the best things I can do with my life," she said. "You see that sparkle, that energy when two people see each other and embrace each other and want to continue with their relationship, it's beautiful."
Dating Tips From The Bubbies & More!
Erin Davis, Host:
- Look at dating as an incredible adventure and experience -- it's an incredible opportunity to learn something new about yourself and others!
- Dating isn't a chore! Stop filtering with checkboxes like age and height.
- If your first date is a blind date or setup, keep it short. Even just one hour, one drink, or one coffee is enough.
Bubbie Linda, The Sage:
- Stop before you schtup! Get to know a person before you get physically involved with them.
- Get to know your date's friends and family. You can tell a lot about a person from who they hang out with.
Bubbie S.J., The Sassy:
- Look at a man's shoes before you go out with him. Are they polished? Is his shirt ironed? We were on Steve Harvey last year and I saw this guy had unpolished shoes -- forget about it!
- Meeting in person is the best. If there's someone you think is attractive or interesting, just go up to them, what's the worst they're going to say? I met my husband in the bank!
- Look at a date as a job interview. Ask them questions, and if they're not interested in a relationship in 6 weeks, kick them to the curb because it ain't gonna go any further.
Bubbie Bunny, The Sweet:
- First, you have to love yourself! Work on yourself that you are 100% of what you could be, so then you can meet someone who's 100%. It's not an easy love, but two whole people getting together. They will have the biggest chance of being successful.
- You have to have positive thinking, believe you can find love, and fall in love with the right guy, not the wrong guy.
- If a man really wants you for who you are, he'll hang around for three months before you [start a physical relationship], and in that three months you'll get to know each other, form an emotional attachment, and have a better chance of finding true love.
Watch Bubbies Know Best at 7:00PM and 10:00PM on Mondays on Comcast Channel 686 and DirecTV Channel 325-1. For more information, visit jltv.tv/shows.php?id=111.